The route between Santa Cruz, CA and San Francisco, CA boasts beautiful views of the countryside, waterways, sunny skies, and breathtaking views. With California being famed for its beaches, you don’t want to miss out on taking this trip from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. What is the distance from Santa Cruz to San Francisco? About 80 miles. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1.Santa Cruz to San Francisco by Car

Santa Cruz to San Francisco by Car
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Santa Cruz is between about 75 miles from San Francisco (roughly 1 hr 15 min if you drive). So if time is of the essence, then it’s recommended that you drive there. The fastest route is to take the CA-1 South out of Santa Cruz, then drive through San José and take the CA-17 North to Palo Alto (Switching onto the US-101 North, via the 24B exit). After that, you are well on your way to San Francisco.

A more scenic route would be to turn off the CA-17 at Los Gatos, and drive on the I-280 (via the CA-85) for 50mi. This route will take you past the California Nature Preserves, all of which are full of green plants, animals, beautiful lakes, and magnificent hills and mountains.

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2.Santa Cruz to San Francisco by Train

Santa Cruz to San Francisco by Train
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Amtrak offers daily trips from Santa Cruz (via their transfer service stopping in San José) to San Francisco. The value seats start at $26, and have some restrictions (such as no refunds if cancelled 48 hours or less before departure), the flexible seats start at $43 (with free refunds allowed at any time), or the premium tickets starting at $54, which comes with a business class seat. Or, if you prefer to lie down, you can pay anywhere from $104 for a Superliner Roomette, which has two reclining seats, which convert into beds. Alternatively, for the family you can hire the Superliner Family Bedroom, starting at $295, which boasts four beds, electrical outlets, and personal service. All Superliner rooms come with Meals included (if applicable), fresh bed linens and towels, and climate control.

By Bus

There are many bus services that travel from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. Greyhound offers many trips daily, starting at $14, all the way to $16. The earliest bus leaves at 7:00am, and the last bus leaves at 10:20pm. If you needed to, you could catch the early-morning bus to San Francisco, spend the day there, and catch the bus back in the evening.

All greyhound busses offer free Wi-Fi, personal power outlets, reclining seats, onboard restrooms, air conditioning and leg room for those that need those extra few inches for their legs.

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3.By Private Transfer Service

By Private Transfer Service
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Private shuttle services (starting at $17.15) are always available to take you from Santa Cruz, to San José, where you can catch a flight or a train to San Francisco.

If you wish to take a taxi from Santa Cruz directly to San Francisco, the costs will start at $260, so it’s recommended that you avoid this method of transport.

By bike or on foot

Google Maps shows three different routes for cycling from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. The recommended route follows the coast, and it goes past the half-moon bay (one of the recommended stops along the route). The scenery is breathtaking, and the fresh air will do wonders for your lungs. Cycling will take 8-9 hours, but the memory of the trip will be worth it.

If you would like to walk, CaliforniaCoastalTrail.info shows information about hiking the California coastline, and provides tips and tricks about hiking, and lodgings for the night. Hiking will take you between 2-5 days, so bring something to eat and a sleeping bag.

Half-Moon Bay is a must-see if you’re cycling or walking the California Coast. You can stop off there and find lodging starting at $129, or find more comfortable accommodations in one of the beachfront hotels, starting at $245. The list of activities in the area is endless. You can listen to live music at one of the many local venues, buy fresh-caught fish daily, and go shopping in the small boutiques and shops, and many more. What is the distance from Santa Cruz to San Francisco? About 80 miles.

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4.Santa Cruz to San Francisco by Plane

Santa Cruz to San Francisco by Plane
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There are no flights that leave from Santa Cruz, CA. However, you can fly from San José (a quick 40min drive from Santa Cruz down the CA-17 N). Flights from San José International (SJC) to San Francisco International (SFO) start at $283, and will take around 3 1/2 hours (as there are no non-stop flights from SJC to SFO).

San Jose Airport in based right in the middle of Silicon Valley, which is home to Google, Apple, Intel, and many of the big names in the computer technology industry. Because of this, San José International is a modern airport, with scores of restaurants, pet relief, and lots of aid for the handicapped, with wheelchair services, Telecommunication to Text devices for the deaf, and security checkpoints to ease your mind about safety and security.

Once you land in San Francisco International Airport, you will be greeted by free Wi-Fi, stores to shop at, places to dine, or you can peruse the SFO museum, and improve your knowledge of art and culture. You can stock up on Sun Screen or Sun Tan Lotion before hitting the streets of San Francisco to explore.

Things to see and do
Before leaving Santa Cruz, there are some amazing attractions you can view, such as:
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk; Spend the day watching the sea, eating local delicacies, playing at the arcade, or for just $44.95, get yourself an all-day pass for the theme park, and have a blast riding the famed “Giant Dipper” rollercoaster, get dizzy from the spinning “Fireball” ride, or have some fun bashing your friends in some Bumper Cars. These are just SOME of the thrill rides that the Boardwalk has to offer.

Whilst travelling on the scenic route, you can visit one of the many Nature Preserves along the I-280, and if you bring a picnic basket (remember not to litter), you can have a relaxing day in beautiful nature, as well as get to experience the beauty of the Californian coastline.

If you take the more straightforward route through San José, you can visit the “Happy Hollow Park & Zoo”, which is a conservation-centered centre for families to explore and enjoy, with tickets priced at $14.25 each. Alternatively, if you’re more interested in history and culture, you can visit the “Winchester Mystery House”, built by Sarah Winchester in the late 1800s, with staircases that lead to nowhere, no set construction plans, or mirrors on the walls, it’s an eery and fascinating place to visit. Guided tours are conducted daily, and they start at $36 for a tour of the mansion, or $44 for the entire estate.

Once you get to San Francisco, you have to make sure you visit the Golden Gate Bridge. These iconic landmark (first opened in 1937) transverses the Golden Gate straight, and is 1.7 Miles long! Stop at Fort Point to get some amazing photos of the structure, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can go on the “Golden Gate Bay Cruise”, and view both the San Francisco waterfront, sail under the bridge, and then around Alcatraz Island. Starting at $30, this tour would be something memorable that you would never forget.

Once in San Francisco, don’t forget to try out the iconic trams they have running through the city. For as little as $7 per trip, you can experience the city in a way that you’ve never experienced another before, by travelling through the heart of town, and up all the hills on the San Francisco Cable Car system, the world’s last manually operated system still running! It’s definitely something not to be missed out on!

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5.Which Method of Transportion

Which Method of Transportion
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If time is of the essence, and you don’t mind the effort, then taking a car would be the most efficient way to travel from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. Taking the car is also recommended if you feel like sight-seeing en-route to San Francisco, as you can stop if and when you wish.

If you are looking at the mode of transport that requires the least amount of effort, then taking the bus would be the way to go, as it’s a straight trip from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, with no interconnecting transfers needed.

If you have a family, then you can either take the car, or take the train, and hire the “Superliner Family Bedroom’, which can take a family of four.

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Santa Cruz to San Francisco Distance: Driving, By Plane, Train or Bus



More Ideas: San Francisco Neon

When we think of big cities, bright lights tend to be the first image in our minds. Bold neon signs have been a staple of urban environments all over the world for many years, lighting up the streets, advertising businesses like hotels and restaurants, adding color and life to the grey buildings and sidewalks, and generally helping to provide cities with their own identity and personality.

San Francisco is a prime example of this. The city was once lit up by countless neon signs in every direction, and while many still survive and are still illuminated each evening, there are countless others that no longer glow and have even fallen into a state of disrepair.

San Francisco Neon is an organization working to preserve and advocate for the importance and beauty of these signs, restoring damaged and dated signs, offering walking tours to introduce locals and travelers to the city's prettiest signs, and even authoring books on the subject.

The Work of San Francisco

Neon San Francisco Neon offers consultation, support, repair, and restoration services for neon lights and signs all over San Francisco. This organization was founded to honor and advocate for the neon signs of the city, and a big part of its work involves restoring signs and supporting neighborhoods, business owners, and communities to keep the city's streets illuminated.

One example of a restoration project undertaken by San Francisco Neon is the Tenderloin: Neon A-Z. Tenderloin is home to over a hundred different neon signs in total. Some of them still glow as bright as ever, while others are fading away into obscurity. San Francisco Neon undertakes a full survey of the area to chart the signs and track their conditions, aiming to restore and repair several signs each year.

San Francisco Neon Sign Tours

Millions of people visit San Francisco each year, while so many more live and work in the city each and every day, but whether you're a long term resident or a casual visitor, few people ever stop to enjoy and appreciate the city's countless neon signs. We tend to see the lights and colors of these signs without fully appreciating, but San Francisco Neon can help you develop a whole new appreciation for neon signs on its tours.

Each evening walking tours is led by San Francisco Neon leaders Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, including local history stories, two miles of walking over a two hour period, and lots of stops along the way at some of the city's true neon gems. A range of different tours are available to choose from, including the Downtown Tour, the Alameda Tour, and the ever popular Chinatown Tour.

San Francisco Neon Talks and Events

The leading neon experts of San Francisco, Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, offer their services for talks, tours, exhibitions, and other events related to the neon world throughout the year. Neon talks can have a wide variety of associations and themes, linking together with a broad range of industries and subjects from art and design to history and science.

San Francisco Neon's experts have already given talks at such prestigious institutions as the San Francisco History Association, the Noir City Film Festival, and the Art Deco Society of California. Visit the official calendar page of the San Francisco Neon site to find out about upcoming events near you.

The Books of San Francisco Neon

If you're interested in learning more about the neon signs and lights of San Francisco and the significance of neon signs in general, you may be interested in reading through one or more of the San Francisco Neon books.

- Saving Neon: A Best Practices Guide - Released in late 2018 and authored by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, this 40-page, vivid, colorful book gives you a full guide to the care and maintenance of neon signs. If a neon sign in your local area has stopped lighting up or fallen into disrepair, the Saving Neon book will take you through the steps needed to bring it back to life, coming complete with links and numbers of organizations you can contact to protect neon signs near you.

- San Francisco Neon: Survivors and Lost Icons - Published in 2014 and also put together by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan, San Francisco Neon: Survivors And Lost Icons is a beautiful catalog of the many stunning neon signs found all over the Golden Gate City. It features more than 200 photographs, all encased in a gorgeous, cloth hardcover book. Local travel expert Tom Downs supplies a fascinating essay on San Francisco photography, while neon sign leading light, Eric Lynxwiler, also provides an essay on the importance of preserving neon signs. Various stories, histories, and oral accounts of San Francisco's neon past and present are also featured throughout, along with an index guide to help readers find signs around the city.

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