Santa Cruz has the ocean, the city, the forest and the mountains, and no matter which one you choose, there are some gorgeous places to stay. We’ve included some hotel options in our things to do in Santa Cruz post, and here’s our pick of the best Santa Cruz AirBnBs. They’re an excellent way to get a little insight into local life. We went to Santa Cruz as part of our epic California road trip, and have also written a guide to all the best things to do in Santa Cruz.
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The Best of AirBnB: Santa Cruz
Escher tiny cabin
If I had to choose one favourite AirBnB from this list, this would be it. Just look at how beautiful it is – and that view, oh my! Handcrafted with love and honed to perfection, the Escher is a cabin with comfort, character and careful attention to detail, including organic skincare products, a portable speaker, book collection and luxury kind bed. There’s even a private hiking trail with spectacular views across the valley. It’s close to Big Basin State Park and Boulder Creek, about 30 mins from Santa Cruz
What the guests say: “This is paradise. If peace was a place it would be here, nestled into the top of a mountain with the bright stars lighting your way at night and the beautiful forest greeting you in the morning. I am already planning my next trip here. Do yourself a favor and do the same.”
AirBnB listing: Escher tiny cabin
Price: From $265 per night
Sleeps: Four people
This treehouse has ‘wow factor’ aplenty with a dramatic fir-tree perch on the edge of a vineyard, looking out across the forests to Monterey Bay. The 400-square-foot platform has a glamping tent with a cosy queen-size bed and a deck for enjoying the spectacular views. There’s electricity and wi-fi in the tent, and guests have access to their own private bathroom in the main house of the vineyard. It’s 30 minute’s drive from Santa Cruz.
What the guests say: “This Airbnb is simply one of a kind! If you are thinking of booking it – just do it, you definitely won’t regret it! Robin and Mark made us feel so welcome and have us a tour of their beautiful property. The treehouse itself is incredible and Robin has thought of everything to make your stay perfect. The view when you wake up will take your breath away.”
AirBnB listing: Vineyard Treehouse
Price: $220 per night
Sleeps: 2 people
Monterey Bay views and pool
My dream is to have an arts and crafts house with a porch, and this place takes that a step further with views out to Monterey Bay across an organic vineyard. Oh my! You can stay here in a private room, enjoying the estate Pinor Noir as you gaze out to the ocean. And to top that off, there’s even a shared indoor pool with a magnificent vaulted skylight roof. The owners are living my dream.
What the guests say: “This is a gem that overlooks Monterrey Bay With a small Pinot noir vineyard in the foreground.. Judy and Peter go out of their way to make guests feel welcome and the property and amenities are stunning. If you are seeking rejuvenation and relaxation – look no further. A “bucket list” type of destination. You have to see it to understand.”
AirBnB listing: Monterey Bay views and pool
Price: From $185 per night
Sleeps: 2 guests (private bedroom)
Mushroom Dome Cabin
The Mushroom Dome Cabin has been on AirBnB for over 10 years and has the most bookings for any of the listings on the site – making it one of the most popular in the world. There’s even a relica of it in the AirBnB offices! You can see why its popular, with its charming mushroom shape, formed by a geodesic dome as the loft roof, atop a pentagon-shaped cabin. The semi-rustic retreat is on 10 acres of land and is a perfect natural retreat for hanging out, watching the hummingbirds, star gazing and petting the owner’s goats. It’s next to Aptos town, just 20 minutes from the centre of Santa Cruz.
What the guests say: “We absolutely loved staying in Kitty and Michael’s mushroom dome! The dome itself is a really unique and cozy place to stay. Kitty met us there and was such a brilliant host – she welcomed us with lots of information about the dome and showed us the humming bird hangout! If you are staying in Santa Cruz we would definitely recommend a night or two here!”
AirBnB listing: Mushroom Dome Cabin
Price: From $130 per night
Sleeps: 3 people (1 bedroom, 1 sofa bed)
Peaceful treehouse with ocean view
If you want something a little less rustic and a lot more luxury from your treehouse experience, then this is the place to go. The Japanese-inspired retreat is styled to an exceptionally high standard with lots of use of natural woods and materials throughout, plus floor-to-ceiling windows that let the natural beauty in. The views are stunning, looking out across the forest out to the ocean.
What the guests say: “This is the perfect home for a relaxing stay. Nothing like laying in a hammock, surrounded by trees with stars up above, all while listening to the ocean! The inside of the house is gorgeous, and the decor really adds to the experience!”
AirBnB listing: Peaceful treehouse with ocean view
Price: $340 per night
Sleeps: 6 people (3 bedrooms)
Cosy pied-a-terre in downtown Santa Cruz
If you’d like to be in the centre of the action, then this little home in downtown Santa Cruz is ideal. It’s in an artsy neighbourhood, filled with students and artists, and just a 10-minute walk to the beach. The décor is stylish with wooden floors, white wood furniture and lots of fun pops of bright pastel colours. There’s also a small backyard area with a hammock.
What the guests say: “The apartment is very spacious, comfortable and beautifully decorated. It’s centrally located near shops and restaurants and a short walk from the beach but on a quiet residential street so ideal! I would highly recommend it.”
AirBnB listing: Cosy pied-a-terre in downtown Santa Cruz
Price: From $128 per night
Sleeps: 2 people
Modern zen retreat
Just a 10-minute drive from the iconic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in one direction and pretty Capitola in the other, this lovely guest suite is a peaceful retreat for your city break. It has its own entrance, a small patio with a foundtain, and private off-street parking. The suite itself feels like a plush boutique hotel, complete with luxury sheets, towels and an extra-special bathtub.
What the guests say: “This place is absolutely gorgeous. It met all our needs and terry goes above and beyond for her guests. She is extremely attentive to detail and provides a clean beautiful room. She provides literally everything right down to the gourmet coffee for the Keurig and ton of toiletries that you may have forgotten. The ambiance is very relaxing and the room is very private with its own entrance. Overall we couldn’t ask for more.”
AirBnB listing: Modern zen retreat
Price: From $105 per night
Sleeps: 2 people
Romantic historic home
Stay in walking distance of downtown Santa Cruz at this cosy apartment in a Spanish-style home built in 1929.The décor plays on the home’s past with old-world furnishings and an inviting atmosphere that makes you feel instantly at home. On cold days, you can watm yourself by the fireplace, or when it’s warm, spend some time outside on the private leafy patio. Two bikes are also available to guests.
What the guests say: “Jenna’s place was fabulous! It was super cute with a very comfortable bed, awesome fireplace, and cute little kitchen. Jenna and Gavin pay attention to detail. The shampoo and conditioner were top notch, wine and dark chocolate when we checked-in, delicious granola and yogurt, and super soft sheets. This place is rad and I’d highly suggest it if you’re looking for a place on the west side of Santa Cruz.”
AirBnB listing: Romantic historic home
Price: From $200 per night
Sleeps: 2 people
Left Coast Tiny
I love a tiny house and this one is extra special, set amid the redwoods of Scotts Valley and just a short drive from Santa Cruz centre. It’s decorated with a cosy, scandi style, and the outdoor area is magnificent, including a big deck area, jacuzzi, fire-pit, hammocks and picnic table. It’s an ideal forest hideaway.
What the guests say: “This was our first tiny house experience and it set the bar high! I wish they could come and decorate our house … the space is super stylish, clean, upscale, and thoughtful with all kinds of neat little touches. We saw deer and wild turkey during our down time relaxing on the deck and in the hot tub. The location is perfectly tucked away and serene but still close to the Redwoods and Santa Cruz.”
AirBnB listing: Left Coast Tiny
Price: From $150 per night
Sleeps: 4 people
Redwood treehouse, Santa Cruz
This magical treehouse of dreams is tucked into the Santa Cruz mountains and has two living trees running right through it. It’s a rustic place, but has lots of modern amenities, including a hot tub, full bathroom with shower, a TV, and a kitchen with a small stove and fridge. It’s also in a special microclimate, which means it’s often bathed in sun while the surrounding area is cloaked in fog.
What the guests say: “The tree house is amazing, a real fairy tale escape. My husband and I stayed here and really enjoyed the complete relaxation and seclusion. Check in was easy and once there we just relaxed and enjoyed the charms of the tree house – the hot tub was a great addition. We wished would could have stayed longer.”
AirBnB listing: Redwood treehouse, Santa Cruz
Price: From $149 per night
Sleeps: 2 people
The cute and colourful AirBnB near Aptos village, just south of Santa Cruz is a good, reasonably-priced place to base yourself outside of the city. Have a BBQ on the patio with the trees as your backdrop, or just snuggle up on the sofa after a long day at the beach.
What the guests say: “We had the best stay at El Nido! Very clean and stylish – we loved every aspect of the home. Chris had every little thing you could think of to make your stay more pleasant and was quick with her communication. The bed linen was SO soft and the bed far exceeded our expectations. Would definitely stay again if ever in the Santa Cruz area!”
AirBnB listing: El Nido
Price: From $120
Sleeps: 3 people
Slow Coast Lodge
This huge home in Davenport, just north of Santa Cruz, is a gorgeous natural retreat that can sleep up to 12 people. Built from reclaimed fir, the rustic home is filled with character, including the striking living room with floor-to-ceiling windows and views out to the forest. Other highlights include an outdoor hot tub, wood-fired pizza oven, fireplaces for getting cosy, and a creek that runs through the property. It’s ideal for groups.
What the guests say: “This place was magical. The best Airbnb I’ve stay at so far. Dana’s home had everything we needed from cooking supplies, to firewood, to bath utilities. Anything you could think of, this home had it. It’s the perfect place to get away from the world. Dana was also extremely helpful and flexible with me. Her and her husband were really easy to communicate with. They’re wonderful people! I can’t recommend this place enough. Truly a magical place.”
AirBnB listing: Slow Coast Lodge
Price: $850 per night
Sleeps: 12 people (7 beds)
Luxury home with ocean views
For the ultimate luxury Santa Cruz experience, choose this stylish and eclectic home with views of the ocean and boardwalk. All the rooms are decorated with individual flair and it comes stocked with everything you need for a relaxing oceanside break. It’s just a 10-minute walk to the boardwalk.
What the guests say: “This property is absolutely stunning. Pictures don’t do justice to this grand estate. It was a fantastic experinece spending time at this property. The house was meticulously rehabbed in way that keep much of the old charm and blended in beautiful modern touches. Each room in the house was very well curated with unique design touches. We spent much of the weekend on the massive rear deck soaking in the sun. The kitchen has every tool imaginable for cooking a massive feast. The owners were a pleasure to work with. We look forward to going back!”
AirBnB listing: Ocean and Boardwalk views
Price: From $1000 per night
Sleeps: 8 people (4 bedrooms, 7 beds)
All photos courtesy of AirBnB.
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