Information for participants

Information for participants to a UC Santa Cruz program



Travel information

Santa Cruz is close to the San Francisco Bay Area, about 45 minutes drive west of San Jose and 1.5 hour drive south of San Francisco.

Travel by car

Information on travel to the UCSC campus from any location in the Bay area by car can be found on this UCSC website.

Travel by train

Unfortunately, there is no train station in Santa Cruz.

Travel by bus

Travel to Santa Cruz by bus is not particularly recommended. However, if this is your only option, note that there are a few possibilities.

  • Greyhound: Santa Cruz has a greyhound terminal, with connections to San Jose and Salinas (as well as other cities in the Bay Area)
  • Santa Cruz Metro Buses: the local city buses connect to the San Jose Caltrain station. See the 17 express bus route for detail.


Travel by air

To get to Santa Cruz from any US or international destination, the easiest way is to fly to one of the Bay Area airport, and complete the journey by car rental or airporter (see below). There are 4 nearby airports. San Francisco is the largest international airport, and is located 1h20 minutes away from Santa Cruz. There are also smaller but well-connected airports, in Oakland (1h30 minutes away from SC), San Jose (45 minutes away from SC) and Monterey (45 minutes away from SC).

Travel to and from Santa Cruz from these airports is mostly done by airport shuttles (see for instance "The Santa Cruz Aiport Flyer" and the Santa Cruz Experience or Uber/Lyft.All airport shuttle rides should be booked in advance - there is no scheduled ride from any of the airports to Santa Cruz. 



Housing for students and postdocs: Students and postdocs who are interested will be provided with on-campus accomodation for the entire duration of the program. They will have their own bedroom in a 2-bedroom appartment, very close to the program venue. The campus rooms have wired internet access, and shared kitchen/bathroom facilities. The rooms will be furnished and bed linen is provided.

Housing for faculty: Faculty participants and postdocs who do not wish to stay on campus must find their own accomodation, although we will provide help with the process. Finding accomodation in the Summer months in Santa Cruz can be challenging, so please begin to search for accomodation as soon as you receive you program invitation. 


The Santa Cruz Campus

The Santa Cruz campus is located in an idyllic setting between the ocean and the Santa Cruz mountains, at the edge of the town of Santa Cruz. The campus is on a steep hill, with the central part of the campus (Science Hill) located about 1 mile from the campus main entrance.

Travel to and from Campus: The campus is served by a regular bus service from the town of Santa Cruz, as well as on-campus bus shuttles. The local bus routes can be found from the Metro Santa Cruz web-page. The bus shuttles run every 15-20 minutes from the base of campus to Science Hill. Biking to the base of campus is quite easy and safe, although the last mile up to campus can be more challenging. Most buses (shuttle and Metro) have bike racks, so a nice compromise is to bike to the base of campus and ride the last hill by bus.


Where to eat and find coffee on campus: Finding a place to eat during the summer can be challenging. Two trucks are often around with delicious food near Engineering and behind PBSci. Also, there are various coffee shops, restaurants and dining halls open throughout the summer. See here for a full list

Parking: Parking on campus for the program participants is unfortunately not free. Please contact our program organizers to request a parking permit. 

Zip Cars: A number of hourly rental cars (the Zip-Cars) are available on Campus, and can be very convenient for short-term needs. Visit the Zip Car website for more information.

Campus life: During the summer months, the campus hosts a reduced number of classes but will nonetheless be quite lively. The Campus is a beautiful natural environment, with interesting wildlife and stunning forests, and provides many opportunities for outdoor activities.The graduate division website offers more information on the Campus life and links to various activities.

The town of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a quaint little seaside town buzzing with life throughout the year. In the summer, it is one of the favorite vacation destination of Bay-Area residents. It has many wonderful eating venues, pubs, cafes, and is the home of many renowned artists... There are many cinemas with decent programmatic choices for the culturally-minded. 

Santa Cruz is particularly famous for its outdoor activities: surfing, beach volleyball, sea-kayaking, bird-watching, sailing, whale-watching, biking, hiking, rock-climbing and many, many more...

Santa Cruz weather

BEWARE: The summer weather in Santa Cruz will surprise you, however prepared you may think you are. The proximity of the cold ocean makes for very cold nights and mostly cool days. In July, expect morning fog, and cold temperatures. The afternoons will be beautiful and warm, occasionally very hot. Bottom line: be prepared. 

For Santa Cruz weather statistics (and other interesting Santa Cruz facts), please visit the Santa Cruz Wiki page


What to do in and near Santa Cruz


  • A must-see is the Santa Cruz Boardwalk .  It is a main attraction for tourists that visit Santa Cruz every summer. Enjoy theme park rides and food paired with the gorgeous view of the ocean in the background.
  • For the curious-minded and lover of illusions, the Mystery Spot is a one-of-a-kind place to spend a few hours in the middle of the Redwoods, surrounded by attractions that seem to defy the law of physics! 
  • Santa Cruz Beaches: 
    • Natural Bridges 
    • Mitchell's Cove Beach (Dog Beach)
    • Cowells (Local Surf Spot)
    • Twin Lakes State Beach (has firepits for night bonfires!)
    • Capitola Beach - 20 minute drive from the UCSC campus 

NOTE: if you do drive here, bring coins to pay for the parking meters.

  • Downtown: Pacific Drive - Walk along Pacific and see what Santa Cruz has to offer in terms of merchandise and great food! Pacific is a great place to set up shop at local coffee shops or have a nice drink with your new summer colleagues.


  • Woodstock's Pizza (Pacific): On Wednesdays, Woodstock's holds a "pint night" at 9 pm with inexpensive beers from the tap. Make sure to bring your ID, and to guarantee a spot to sit, arrive early!
  • Cafe Brasil (Mission): Get a dose of Brasil in an acai bowl or in a hearty lunch of steak and feijoada paired with a refreshing fruit juice made fresh from the kitchen. A popular brunch spot, it is a must-see for visitors and a favorite of the locals.
  • Los Pericos (Water Street): Great Mexican food, fast service, and bordering downtown.
  • Mobo Sushi (River Street, same parking lot as Woodstock's): Friday nights, Mobo holds a Sake Bomb night. It gets crowded, but it's worth peering in for! 
  • Betty's Burgers (Pacific): The best burgers in Santa Cruz! 
  • burger. (Mission): The best milkshakes and garlic fries in Santa Cruz!
  • Pono Hawaiian Grill (Union): Great environment for drinks with friends with a great island environment to lounge and relax at!
  • Ferrell's Donuts (Mission): For those days that only a donut will cure your sugar rush. Cash only.
  • Sabieng Thai (Mission): Great to go as a group to enjoy family style. Try the coconut soup and the pad thai! Everything on the menu will be guaranteed to appease your palate.

Grocery Shopping:

  • Safeway (Mission)
  • Trader Joe's (Front Street/Downtown)
  • New Leaf - organic produce and specialized nutrition (Pacific Ave, Fair St)

Santa Cruz Bus Pass

If you will be needing a bus pass to travel within the city of Santa Cruz, you may purchase a Santa Cruz Metro Pass.  The fares are listed on the website. As a suggestion, purchase the pass in person at the downtown metro station located at: 920 Pacific Avenue. You may pay with cash, credit, or check (bring ID for the last two forms of payment).  



Santa Cruz has the on-demand electric JUMP bikes availble almost everywhere. Setting up an account is relatively easy. See the JUMP website for detail. Note that these are not standard rentals, but more "by the minute" rental with pick-up and drop-off points everywhere in town. 

We are not certain whether there are any shops in town that provide normal bike rentals (where you keep the bike for a certain amount of time).  


Dining on the UCSC Campus

  • Raymond's Catering - Food truck by the Physical Sciences (M-F 12-1:00 pm)
  • Dining Halls of UCSC Note: College 9/10 does not open until June 26th
  • Cafe Iveta: M-F: 9 am- 6 pm/ Sat 10 am- 4pm
  • Global Village (McHenry Library): M-F: 9 am - 4 pm/ Sat: 12 pm-4 pm
  • Perk Coffee (Physical Sciences): M-F: 8 am-2:30 pm