Located on the coast of central California, Santa Cruz is a destination not to be missed. You’ll probably never run out of things to see while in Santa Cruz. From the legendary Beach Boardwalk to the gorgeous Big Basin Redwoods State Park. And if you don’t have much to spend, staying at a cheap hotel in Santa Cruz CA is always a good idea. Yes, they have plenty of excellent accommodations at affordable prices here!
Between June and August will be the best time to visit Surf City as the warmest temperature is only around 70, while the lowest is in the 50s. Outdoor enthusiasts should be able to find their sweet spot in Wilder Ranch State Park or the lush Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden. You can enjoy a Shakespeare performance at the famous Redwood Glen or visit the one and only Surfing Museum for cultural attractions. That being said, let’s check out some of our reviews on cheap hotels in Santa Cruz beach boardwalk.
Table of contents
- Hotel Solares
- Dream Inn Santa Cruz
- Budget Inn Santa Cruz
- Beach Street Inn and Suites
- Ocean Pacific Lodge
- Carousel Beach Inn
- Mission Inn
- Seaway Inn
- National 9 Motel
- Comfort Inn Boardwalk
- The Inn at Pasatiempo
- Top Affordable Bars in Santa Cruz, California
- Top Affordable Restaurants in Santa Cruz, California
- Free Things to Do in Santa Cruz, California
Only a 10-minute walk from the famous Beach Boardwalk, Hotel Solares is one of the best options for a stay in Santa Cruz when you’re not in the mood to spend a fortune. This cheap hotel in Santa Cruz CA has a large parking area available free of charge to all guests. You’re in for excellent service, as all the staff here are friendly and helpful. Some of them are even multilingual too.
Each room is equipped with free WiFi and cable TV. For your daily dose of caffeine, you can use the coffee maker provided. There’s an outdoor swimming pool and a Jacuzzi pool for leisure activities. In case you run into some problem or need extra service, the hotel’s 24-hour desk will always be ready to help. As soon as you’re done resting, you can start walking out of the lobby and see what Santa Cruz offers. We recommend visiting Cowell Beach, as it is only less than 1 mile away from the hotel.
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Dream Inn Santa Cruz
The Dream Inn Santa Cruz is probably one of the cheap hotels in Santa Cruz CA. Despite its affordable rate, this place is the only beachfront hotel in Surf City. In just a five-minute walk, you should be able to find lively restaurants and lots of interesting shops to visit. If you’re lucky, you might even see some seals swimming past!
When you’re in the mood to explore the city, the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is just half a mile away. Are you not planning to leave the hotel? No problem, as there are lots of interesting things to do. For example, you can enjoy a relaxing atmosphere with complimentary poolside yoga, available free of charge to all guests every Wednesday and Saturday. Are you interested in trying some blackened mahi-mahi or the local grilled hangar steak? Head straight to The Jack O’Neill Restaurant & Lounge. Oh, and don’t get us started talking about the breakfast. The Dungeness crab eggs Benedict here is simply fantastic!
Budget Inn Santa Cruz
The Budget Inn Santa Cruz is another value-for-money hotel worth considering when you want to spend the night in Surf City. It sits in a central location, where all kinds of stuff are within walking distance. In less than half an hour, you can visit interesting places such as downtown, beaches, boardwalk, and lighthouses. As for the rooms, they’re remarkably quiet. This is kind of surprising since this three-star hotel is conveniently located between a busy street. But once you close the door, it’s as if you’re being separated from the outside world!
We usually don’t talk much about service, but the staff and receptionists here are amazing. Despite being a cheap hotel in Santa Cruz CA, all of them were courteous and friendly. These guys don’t even hesitate to go the extra mile to make sure you get a comfortable room and excellent bedding. Last but not least, the hotel also allows early check-in. If you’re planning to visit Santa Cruz in the future, the Budget Inn should be on your watchlist.
Beach Street Inn and Suites
Beach Street Inn and Suites promise wonderful accommodation with an outdoor pool. It sits strategically between the legendary Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the popular Santa Cruz Wharf. If you’re in the mood for some swings, this cheap hotel in Santa Cruz CA also has a golf course. Meanwhile, concierge services and a 24-hour front desk are available to make your stay even more enjoyable.
Santa Cruz nightlife is one of the things you must try while in Surf City. Luckily, the Beach Street Inn and Suites is only a few minutes from some of the famous local clubs and bars. Want to explore even further? A 20-minute walk will take you to Santa Cruz Metro Bus Station, which provides easy access to and around the city. As for the rooms, you’ll get a fairly spacious resting room, complete with standards such as a refrigerator, microwave, and a tea/coffee maker.
Ocean Pacific Lodge
Ocean Pacific Lodge is a three-star hotel conveniently located in the heart of Santa Cruz. However, you might be a little confused about why they don’t charge more for accommodation as good as this. First of all, the rooms are fantastic. They were neat and clean. We recommend booking a suite with two king-size beds if you’re traveling with family. It’s divided into two different spaces, so you and your wife can still have some privacy. As for amenities, feel free to enjoy the swimming pool and the two hot tubs. There are bathrooms nearby, so you can quickly dry yourself and change as soon as you’re done.
Like we said earlier, Ocean Pacific Lodge is conveniently located. Just like most cheap hotels in Santa Cruz beach boardwalk, everything is within walking distance. From piers and restaurants to the famous boardwalk. Another great thing about this motel is the staff. A reviewer at Booking said that one of the vending machines in the hotel ate his coins. Immediately after filing a complaint, the staff paid him back. No questions asked.
While you’re in Santa Cruz, why don’t you visit some local beaches? See if you can find some of our best beaches in California!
Carousel Beach Inn
The excellent location is one of the biggest draws of the Carousel Beach Inn. This hotel was great for walking around Surf City. The famous boardwalk is just a few steps away, and you can see some cool piers and interesting restaurants along the way. Meanwhile, the breakfast was fantastic. You’ll get freshly made foods such as hard-boiled eggs, muffins, and bagels. Yeah, we know, they’re not fancy or anything, but they work. For a cheap hotel in Santa Cruz CA, there are more options than you should get.
You’ll be surprised at how all the staff here are welcoming and helpful. This makes the Carousel Beach Inn feel cozier and warmer than it should be. As for the rooms, they’re quite clean and comfortable. We wouldn’t complain if we had to stay here for 3-5 days. Guests with cars can use the complimentary parking area next to the hotel. And if you need anything, there’s a big supermarket close by.
The Mission Inn is marketed as a family-friendly hotel. It’s not far from the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. If you want to enjoy a bit of California’s southern coast summer atmosphere, the main beach is steps away. The scenery around here is spectacular. If you stay on the second floor, you’ll get a direct view of the boardwalk. Depending on which room you get, you might also catch a glimpse of the ocean!
Breakfast was served on time every morning. There are plenty of options to choose from, including regular ones like butter toast, egg benedict, and bagels. If you need anything else, the friendly staff at the hotel’s front desk will be ready to help you. They can also recommend some local restaurants, most of which you can easily reach within walking distance of the lobby. Being one of the cheap hotels in Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the rate is quite competitive. If you plan to stay near downtown but not in it, this three-star accommodation will make an excellent choice.
Located in a hilly area overlooking Monterey Bay, the Seaway Inn is an attractive inn that’s not to be missed. This two-star hotel is for you if you love the classic and vintage atmospheres. It has all the modern amenities you’d expect from one of Surf City’s most popular accommodations. In the mood for a stroll around? The legendary Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is just minutes away. For surfers, a visit to Steamer Lane is highly recommended. And in case the hotel’s impressive menus aren’t enough to satisfy your taste buds, you can walk down to Municipal Wharf and taste some locally grown steaks.
Most reviewers on Booking said that the Seaway Inn was much better than expected. The rooms don’t feel like a two-star hotel at all. The bed was super comfortable, while the decor was cute. Meanwhile, the staff here is very friendly. They won’t hesitate to go the extra mile if you encounter issues during your stay. Last but not least, the parking is easy, while the location is impressive. If you still don’t know where to stay, this cheap hotel in Santa Cruz CA won’t let you down.
National 9 Motel
Whenever you plan to visit Santa Cruz, the National 9 Motel will be the right choice. This affordable accommodation is situated in a welcoming environment and offers plenty of impressive amenities. Free WiFi and air conditioning are available in every room. The hotel’s outdoor pool would be great for relaxing after a long day. And in case you drive your car, there’s a free parking space available around the building.
As for breakfast, the hotel offers light pastries and coffee. If you’re craving more, there’s Denny’s right across the street. Apart from that, there are plenty of excellent Thai restaurants here. Some that you shouldn’t miss are the Sabieng Thai Cuisine, Pacific Thai Santa Cruz, and Sawasdee By The Sea. All three are less than half an hour’s drive from the lobby. So if you’re planning to enjoy your time in Surf City, this is one of the cheap hotels in Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to consider.
Comfort Inn Boardwalk
Offering bright and tidy rooms, the Comfort Inn Boardwalk is perhaps one of the cleanest hotels in Santa Cruz. Their housekeeping is known as the best. You’ll be surprised to find how their beds are super soft and comfortable. Make your stay even more enjoyable with many complimentary amenities available, including a flat-screen TV, a fridge, and a kitchenette. An outdoor swimming pool and hot breakfast are also available to all guests. And no need to spend extra on parking fees as the parking lot is free.
A vacation in Surf City would be meaningless without visiting top local attractions. Luckily, you have plenty to look at around the hotel. The Ocean City Boardwalk and Oceanic Fishing Pier would be great places to spend some time. Both are less than a mile from the lobby. And if you’re interested in some culinary adventures, famous spots like Sunset Grille and The Shark on the Harbor are just minutes away. Marketed as family-friendly accommodation, this cheap hotel in Santa Cruz CA will be great for your next vacation trip.
The Inn at Pasatiempo
The Inn at Pasatiempo offers a natural setting to delight any outdoor enthusiast. It sits near busy Highway 17 and is steps away from the majestic Eucalyptus forest area. Apart from that, you can easily find some of Santa Cruz’s most beautiful beaches within a four-mile radius. Spending a whole day in this hotel isn’t a bad idea either. You can relax in the lounge while enjoying the surrounding gardens. Or if you fancy some golf, you can try the famous Pasatiempo golf course.
The hotel’s 24-hour front desk will be ready to help you with anything. That includes showing the way to your room, which is equipped with various impressive amenities such as WiFi, a microwave, a coffee maker, and a mini-fridge. Breakfast and dinner are served at the on-site restaurant. The hotel’s chef is at your service if you want anything special. When you’re ready, step out of the lobby as there are many interesting things to do around. A 10-minute drive will take you to the boardwalk, where you can find tons of food stalls and shopping arcades.
Top Affordable Bars in Santa Cruz, California
- Blue Lagoon Cocktail Lounge – Want to have some good laughs while enjoying a nice drink? Then this place is for you! Blue Lagoon Cocktail Lounge’s comedy nights are one of the best in Surf City. Enjoy some of the best local looks and have a blast with a nice beverage in your hand.
- The Redroom – Get an experience like no other at this double entry bar. Upstairs, you get a loud room with a dance floor in the middle. Downstairs, there’s a bar with a chill vibe. If you’re visiting the Santa Cruz area, this bar is a must-visit. They also have a cute fireplace, a traditional Victorian couch, and great food!
- Jury Room – Three words: This place rocks! If you’ve ever visited Santa Cruz, you shouldn’t miss the chance to come to the Jury Room. This cool bar has great drinks and live music. Right next door, there are cheap tacos available until 9 pm. Definitely worth a visit.
Top Affordable Restaurants in Santa Cruz, California
- Betty Burgers – Great burgers and delicious fries; what more could you ask for! If you’re still craving more, the milkshakes and cookies are just as fantastic. You might find it a little difficult to find the exact location of this local restaurant, but trust us, it will all be worth it!
- Zoccoli’s Delicatessen – This Italian deli serves some of the best sandwiches and processed meats in town. Make sure you don’t come during lunchtime because the lines here can be quite long. As soon as you get your order, enjoy it while sitting on one of the benches along Pacific Avenue. If you are lucky, you can eat while accompanied by the melodious strains of local musicians!
- Woodies Cafe – This is a great place with great views and great food. The clam chowder is a must-try, while the strawberry lemonade is fantastic. They also have excellent service. If you visit Santa Cruz, don’t forget to stop by here.
Free Things to Do in Santa Cruz, California
- West Cliff Drive – One of the prettiest drives in Santa Cruz. You can easily find many small beaches. If you want to know more about local history, head over to the legendary Light House Museum.
- Santa Cruz Surfing Museum – See how this beautiful city became the hottest point for surfers across the United States. Check out hundreds of gorgeous photos, dozens of surfboards, and other memorabilia. Once you’re done, grab some cool t-shirts and small accessories as souvenirs.
- Mission State Park – If you happen to be staying the night nearby, be sure to pay a visit. This historic building has amazing architecture and grounds. There’s a lovely park in the area where you can take a walk or sit and enjoy the surroundings.