Boom Towns, Bear Attacks, and Religious Cults: The History of the Santa Cruz Mountains’ Ghost Towns

Patchen, Santa Cruz Ghost TownWhen people think about the Santa Cruz Mountains, ghost towns aren’t usually the first thing that pops in their minds.

However, in the last half of the nineteenth century, the mountains were home to a number of booming pioneer towns and mining camps that sprung up along the stagecoach and railroad lines between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz.

Similar to nowadays, Santa Cruz’s beaches brought tourists and day-trippers in from the valley, and a number of hotels and resorts were built in the mountains in the late 1800s to cater to the crowds.

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Turning Water into Milk: Wilder Ranch’s Innovative History

Wilder Ranch State Park

There are few places in California that make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time.

Wilder Ranch is one of them.

Situated on 7,000 acres just north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1, Wilder Ranch State Park features over 34 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.

The land remains largely untouched, reminding you of the Santa Cruz that once was, with trails and paths that wind through shady redwood forests and coastal terraces and valleys.

Breathtaking views of coastal bluffs, tidepools, and sea caves, as well as the preserved dairy ranch and living history demonstrations make Wilder Ranch a popular spot for the entire family.

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The Ultimate Guide to Santa Cruz Hotels

Planning a vacation in Santa Cruz?

From luxury hotels, bed and breakfasts, budget options, and pet-friendly accommodations, this Ultimate Guide to Santa Cruz Hotels features the best that Santa Cruz has to offer.

This guide is broken down into sections covering luxury hotels, boutique inns, bed & breakfasts, budget hotels, beachfront, motels, pet-friendly, and green hotels. You’ll also find vacation rentals, and hotels near the boardwalk.


Dream Inn

Dream Inn Santa CruzThe Santa Cruz Dream Inn is a retro-chic Joie de Vivre hotel located just adjacent to the Municipal Wharf and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Cowell’s Beach.

Each of the 165 light-flooded rooms in the 10-story hotel features ocean views from private balconies.

The Dream Inn was recently remodeled and its new on-site restaurant, Aquarius, offers a variety of sustainable seafood in a sleek modern setting.

Dream Inn
175 W. Cliff Drive
Santa Cruz, CA
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