is the county seat and largest city of Santa Cruz County, California in the United States of America. As of the 2000 census, Santa Cruz had a total population of 54,593. It is located on the northern edge of the Monterey Bay, about 72 mi (115 km) south of San Francisco.
The present-day site of Santa Cruz was the location of a Native American settlement since ancient times. It was also one of the earliest settlements of the Spanish during the exploration of Alta California in the later part of the 1700s. During the late 1800s, after California became part of the United States, Santa Cruz became widely popular for its idyllic beaches and Coastal Redwoods and became a popular resort community. Now known for its alternative community lifestyles and liberal political leanings, Santa Cruz is a haven for many sub-cultures and counter-cultures.
Santa Cruz has mild weather throughout the year, enjoying a Mediterranean climate characterized by cool, wet winters and warm, mostly dry summers. Due to its proximity to Monterey Bay, fog and low overcast is a common feature during the night and morning hours, especially in the summer.
January is the coolest month with an average maximum of and an average minimum of . September is the warmest month with an average maximum of and an average minimum of . There are an average of only 5.7 days with highs of 90°F (32°C) or higher and an average of 12.7 days with lows of 32°F (0°C) or lower. The highest temperature on record was on September 14, 1971. The lowest temperature on record was on December 23, 1990.
Average annual rainfall in Santa Cruz is , with most of the rain falling from November through April. There are an average of 65 days with measurable rain annually. The most rainfall in one year was in 1983 and the least rainfall in one year was in 1989. In December 1955, 21.07 inches fell in Santa Cruz and the San Lorenzo River had one of its greatest floods in history. Heavy rains and high winds in the spring of 1958 caused extensive damage along the coastline of Santa Cruz County. The greatest 24 hour rainfall in Santa Cruz was on January 5, 1982.