Whether you want to try the many thrilling rides at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or spend an afternoon tanning by the ocean’s shore, one thing’s certain: there’s always going to be something to entertain you in Santa Cruz!

The stunning Californian beach town of Santa Cruz is mainly known for its lagoons and oceanfront rides. A lesser-known fact, however, is that the town also houses plenty of historic buildings, hidden surfing spots, and its bustling downtown area is packed with some of the best eateries in California. As such, Santa Cruz truly has something for everyone!

Now, while Santa Cruz is no doubt a super-fun destination, it’s still in California, so you can expect to pay a pretty penny if you’re not careful. To cut back on costs, it’s always a good idea to consider staying in a more affordable accommodation, but without cutting back on comforts.

That’s why motels in Santa Cruz are such a great idea. These properties aren’t just affordable, but several of them even provide extra perks like complimentary breakfast, so you can really save some money! Some also have free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and on-site swimming pools, so while it may be cheaper than a hotel, it’s no less luxurious.

If this sounds like a good idea to you and you’re not sure where to begin finding your motel in Santa Cruz, then I got you. I’ve listed the vert best motels in Santa Cruz so you can concentrate on planning your best vacation!

In a Hurry? Here’s Where to Stay in Santa Cruz for One Night

FIRST TIME IN SANTA CRUZ

National 9 Motel

Located just a few minutes from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, this motel comfortably sleeps two in its Queen Room. Some bedrooms also have two beds for groups of four. Guests can enjoy daily complimentary coffee in the lobby and a common outdoor pool.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS:
  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
  • Henry Cowell Redwood State Park
  • Cowell’s Beach

Is this amazing Santa Cruz Motel booked for your dates? We’ve got your back with our other favorite properties below!

Staying in a Motel in Santa Cruz

Staying in a Motel in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz draws thousands of visitors from all over the world, so it’s no surprise that it offers a wide variety of motels to choose from. Unlike hotels, these properties don’t usually come with a hefty price tag, and rest assured that you won’t need to sacrifice your comfort either!

Most motels in Santa Cruz are strategically placed near main road links to help you soak up the best attractions in the area, perfect for those on a Californian road trip!

It’s entirely possible to book an ocean-facing establishment without having to empty your pockets. Some rooms are even fitted with balconies so you can enjoy your very own private porch over the beach.

What to Look for in a Hotel in Santa Cruz

Unlike popular belief, budget traveling doesn’t mean that you should settle for any old dingy room that comes your way, or share a dorm in a smelly hostel in Santa Cruz. Given the abundance of motels in Santa Cruz, I would totally recommend that you take some time to browse through various options so you can find a place that matches both your budget and preferences.

A common misconception is that groups or families may need to pay for two separate rooms when booking a motel. Quite on the contrary, you’ll find plenty of motels that offer larger rooms with multiple beds that usually sleep three to four guests.

Other establishments may offer interconnecting rooms or even suites with two bedrooms for up to six persons. Some rooms also feature sofa beds for your extra guests. You just need to check with the property first before booking if this is something you’re looking for.

If you’re planning a weekend in Santa Cruz, you may wish to book a room with a basic kitchenette- or at the very least, a microwave and refrigerator – so you can cut back on expenses by preparing your own meals instead of eating out every day. Several motels provide either a full complimentary breakfast or free tea and coffee in the morning. Other establishments may offer on-site restaurants as well as vending machines.

When it comes to finding a motel, websites like Booking.com can be quite handy since they allow you to browse through multiple properties at once while checking out their amenities and availability. However, it does require quite a bit of searching to find the best ones. So if that sounds like too much work for you, don’t worry, because I have listed the best of the best below.

OVERALL BEST VALUE MOTEL IN SANTA CRUZ
National 9 Motel, Santa Cruz
OVERALL BEST VALUE MOTEL IN SANTA CRUZ

National 9 Motel

  • > $$
  • > 2 Guests
  • > On-site Common Pool
  • > Close to the Boardwalk
BEST MOTEL FOR FAMILIES VISITING SANTA CRUZ
Fireside Inn By The Beach, Santa Cruz
BEST MOTEL FOR FAMILIES VISITING SANTA CRUZ

Fireside Inn By The Beach

  • > $$
  • > 4-6 Guests
  • > Refrigerator and Microwave
  • > Mountain Views
BEST MOTEL FOR COUPLES IN SANTA CRUZ
The Islander Motel, Santa Cruz
BEST MOTEL FOR COUPLES IN SANTA CRUZ

The Islander Motel

  • > $$
  • > 2 Guests
  • > Seasonal Outdoor Pool
  • > Close to the Downtown Area
BEST MOTEL FOR GROUP OF FRIENDS
Salt Air Lodge, Santa Cruz
BEST MOTEL FOR GROUP OF FRIENDS

Salt Air Lodge

  • > $$
  • > 4 Guests
  • > Coffee Machine and Refrigerator
  • > Outdoor Swimming Pool
MOTEL WITH THE BEST LOCATION
Beachview Inn, Santa Cruz
MOTEL WITH THE BEST LOCATION

Beachview Inn

  • > $
  • > 2 Guests
  • > Complimentary Toiletries
  • > Near the Beach
BEST MOTEL FOR A WEEKEND IN SANTA CRUZ
Hitching Post Studios Inn, Santa Cruz
BEST MOTEL FOR A WEEKEND IN SANTA CRUZ

Hitching Post Studios Inn

  • > $$
  • > 2-4 Guests
  • > Private Kitchen in Select Rooms
  • > Minutes from Capitola Village
MOTEL WITH THE BEST POOL IN SANTA CRUZ
Ocean Pacific Lodge, Santa Cruz
MOTEL WITH THE BEST POOL IN SANTA CRUZ

Ocean Pacific Lodge

  • > $$
  • > 2 Guests
  • > Fridge and Microwave in Rooms
  • > Common Outdoor Pool

Looking for other types of accommodation? Check out our guide to Where to Stay in Santa Cruz!

The Top 10 Motels in Santa Cruz

Now you know what to expect from motels in Santa Cruz, it’s time to take a look at the best ones. These motels are suitable for anyone, from backpackers in California to families with children!

Overall Best Value Motel in Santa Cruz – Motel with Pool

National 9 Motel, Santa Cruz
Beautiful and clean rooms await at this establishment!
  • $$
  • 2 Guests
  • On-site Common Pool
  • Close to the Boardwalk

Enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi and daily coffee with a stay at the National 9 Motel! Boasting a common swimming pool, this motel in Santa Cruz offers air-conditioned Queen Rooms with a large double bed for two. If you’re traveling with friends or family, you can always opt for a room that offers two double beds for four people.  

Since the motel lies less than four kilometers from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, you can be sure that there’s always plenty to do nearby. You’ll also be close to the University of California and the popular Henry Cowell Redwood State Park.

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Best Motel in Santa Cruz for Families – Spacious Beachside Motel

Fireside Inn By The Beach, Santa Cruz
Plenty of space for adults and kids alike!
  • $$
  • 4-6 Guests
  • Refrigerator and Microwave
  • Mountain Views

Perfect for parents traveling with kids, this motel in Santa Cruz offers spacious family suites with two bedrooms that sleep four to six guests. With mountain views, the family suites boast complimentary toiletries as well as refrigerators and microwaves so you can easily enjoy a meal in the privacy of your own room.

When you do feel like eating out, you’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants within walking distance of the property. Nearby, families can also check out the iconic Santa Cruz Beach , Seabright State Beach, and the Pacific Garden Mall.

Best Motel in Santa Cruz for Groups – Motel 5-Minutes from Beach!

Capri Motel Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz
Two-bedroom suites can accommodate larger families
  • $$
  • 2-4 Guests
  • Complimentary Toiletries
  • 5 minutes from the beach

Do you want to book an affordable yet ultra-comfortable motel room near the beach? Of course, you do! Well, look no further: not only does the Capri Motel feature Queen Rooms with one or two beds to accommodate between two to four guests, but it also lies just five minutes from Santa Cruz Beach.

All rooms provide free toiletries, desks, refrigerators, and microwaves. Additionally, the property offers complimentary Wi-Fi and an on-site vending machine for when the kids are feeling peckish. With a stay at this motel, you’ll be close to the Nickelodeon Theatre and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Best Motel in Santa Cruz for Couples – Cosy Downtown Motel

The Islander Motel, Santa Cruz
Retreat to a clean and comfy room after spending hours at the nearby beach!
  • $$
  • 2 Guests
  • Seasonal Outdoor Pool
  • Close to the Downtown Area

Featuring a seasonal outdoor pool, the Islander Motel lies just a five minutes walk from downtown Santa Cruz and its many eateries. You’ll also be close to other sites of interest such as Santa Cruz Beach, Pacific Avenue, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center.

After exploring the many attractions in the area, couples can wind down in the motel’s King Room fitted with air-conditioning and an extra-large double bed. All rooms also feature a microwave and refrigerator, complimentary local calls, and a 40-inch flat-screen HDTV.

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Best Motel for Groups of Friends – Modern Motel with Large Rooms

Salt Air Lodge, Santa Cruz
Spacious rooms for groups!
  • $$
  • 4 Guests
  • Coffee Machine and Refrigerator
  • Outdoor Swimming Pool

Not only does this motel in Santa Cruz offer generously sized rooms for spending quality time with friends, but it also features a prime location near the beach! With complimentary toiletries and Wi-Fi, the property’s King Suite accommodates up to four guests in its two bedrooms.

Take a dip in the on-site swimming pool, then fuel up with a quick snack in the comfort of your suite thanks to the in-room refrigerator and microwave. Nearby, you can explore historical sites like the Santa Cruz City Museum of Natural History or enjoy thrilling rides at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Motel in Santa Cruz with the Best Location – Beachview Inn

Beachview Inn, Santa Cruz
Beautiful Views Beckon!
  • $
  • 2 Guests
  • Complimentary Toiletries
  • Near the Beach

Okay, if you’re looking for a property that commands a spectacular location in Santa Cruz, this little gem right here certainly has you covered! True to its name, the Beachview Inn lies close to the beach, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Sky Glider, and Pacific Garden Mall.

As though this wasn’t enough, the motel also offers easy access to both Monterey Peninsula Airport and the University of California- Santa Cruz.

The brightly decorated rooms all come with flat-screen cable televisions, seating areas, and double beds for one to two guests. Select rooms even feature gorgeous views of the glistening ocean.  

Best Motel in Santa Cruz for a Weekend – Bright and Airy Motel

Hitching Post Studios Inn, Santa Cruz
Rooms are well-equipped for business and leisure travelers alike!
  • $$
  • 2-4 Guests
  • Private Kitchen in Select Rooms
  • Minutes from Capitola Village

The Hitching Post Studios Inn is an excellent choice for a weekend in Santa Cruz, namely because of its many in-room amenities. With one or two double beds to accommodate between two and four guests, the motel’s rooms feature air-conditioning, complimentary toiletries, coffee machines, and microwaves.

In select rooms, you’ll even find private kitchens that you can use to prepare your meals instead of spending a weekend traipsing about to find a place to eat. This property lies close to Capitola Village, Rio Theatre, and McPherson Center.

Motel in Santa Cruz with the Best Pool – Clean and Modern Motel

Ocean Pacific Lodge, Santa Cruz
There’s nothing like a cooling splash in the pool after a full day!
  • $$
  • 2 Guests
  • Fridge and Microwave in Rooms
  • Common Outdoor Pool

Located at the very heart of Santa Cruz, the Ocean Pacific Lodge has a seasonally heated outdoor pool, complete with a hot tub so you can soak your sore muscles after a full day of sightseeing. Rooms feature extra-large double beds for two, complimentary toiletries, and work desks. You’ll even find refrigerators and microwaves for those midnight snacks!

With a stay at this motel, you’ll be less than 500 meters from both Santa Cruz Beach and Cowell’s Beach. A little bit further away is found the Pacific Garden Mall, Sky Glider, and the bustling Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Motel in Santa Cruz with Breakfast – Contemporary & Spacious

Carousel Beach Inn, Santa Cruz
You can expect all the comforts of home in the motel’s light-flooded rooms
  • $$
  • 2-4 Guests
  • Spa Bath in Select Rooms
  • Daily Complimentary Breakfast

Wake up to a scrumptious complimentary breakfast every single day with a stay at this motel in Santa Cruz! All rooms feature private balconies, perfect for enjoying the views and the sun.

King Rooms can easily accommodate two guests while Queen Rooms are fitted with two large double beds for groups of four. Select rooms even come with spa baths.

Located just a quick walk from the beach and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, Carousel Beach Inn additionally boasts free Wi-Fi and a 24-hour front desk. There’s also an on-site vending machine for your snacks and drinks.

Best Motel in Santa Cruz near the Beach – Stylish Motel

Stylish Motel
  • $$
  • 2 Guests
  • Tea and Coffee Making Facilities
  • Easy Access to the Beach

Since this motel in Santa Cruz lies just a minute’s walk from Cowell’s Beach, you can easily enjoy delightful sunrises or sunsets every day! Perfect for two guests, the motel’s King Rooms feature balconies, air-conditioning, and coffee machines.

Groups may wish to book Queen Rooms with multiple bed options to accommodate four people. The motel even provides Deluxe Family Suites with two large double beds and a futon bed to sleep up to six guests. When you want to eat out, you can always check out Ideal Bar & Grill, located just a short stroll from the property.

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Final Thoughts on Motels in Santa Cruz

Beach adventures, surf culture, theatres, rides, and music all fuse into one memorable adventure in sun-kissed Santa Cruz!

By booking a motel in Santa Cruz, you won’t need to save up for ages to afford a well-deserved break since these properties are known for being exceptionally affordable despite their comfortable rooms and amenities.

The one thing you should keep in mind when planning your trip is that it’s always a good idea to get travel insurance, especially if you’re flying internationally. Proper coverage ensures that you’ll be taken care of if things should go wrong. With travel insurance, you’ll also be able to focus fully on your holiday- no matter what happens!


Thanks for reading – that was fun! 😀

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