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Santa Cruz California

Santa Cruz California, 2 June Days   More Pictures  |  Map  |  GPS  |  More Info

Santa Cruz is another quaint little coastal town that is experiencing more rapid growth and development. There are parks along the water along West Cliff Drive. You can park for free for the day bike path and jogging path along the ocean for many, many miles as well as a huge marina with all your typical expensive end fresh seafood restaurants. There are stores and conveniences but most of them are inland further so stock up before you come down here.

Most of the beach access is a good 50 to 70 feet off the water up and you are going down a large flight of stairs in most cases to get to the water. We are nearing the natural bridges now and we are going to check that out and probably hang out for a few hours.

Santa Cruz is a fun one-day stop. There is free parking until midnight but until 6:00 a.m. you are not allowed to park, so between midnight and 6 a.m. you are suppose to find a place to live. You can actually stay on the beach all night. You can park here most of the day and there is a huge dock with many restaurants on the pier, it is free if you are a pedestrian. There is plenty of parking but not really any parking for big motorhomes but small vehicles have no problem. There are about 20 volleyball courts and plenty of people to watch, live band playing outside, some free concerts. So this would be a good stopping point but it is not really some place that I would want to stay long term. There is some surfing here, a few surf spots, a few select waves that the locals use. A lot of farms grow right to the edge of the cliffs here, which is pretty scenic. Seals and sea lions play at the marina and along the beach.


Having been to so many great beach and pier scenes I was somewhat disappointed in Santa Cruz. It was big and well worth a day or two visit but I couldn't spend a week here happily unless I was surfing every day. Main points of interest here were the 5 mile round trip paved sidewalk running a good length of the beachside attractions, the huge pier called the Santa Cruz Wharf, running far out over the ocean, people watching at either the sizeable waterfront amusement park or in the cove adjacent to the pier where there were over a hundred people playing volleyball at 12 or more nets, and watching the free bands playing music throughout the area.

At the Santa Cruz Wharf we munched on cheap fried fresh calamari and sipped $3 daiquiris during happy hour with a decent view out the windows to the ocean down below and the mainland hundreds of yards away. Food specialties on the pier, which can be had at nearly 10 different restaurants, include: fresh fish, crab, squid, scallops, lobster, and hot breads. Kelly wanted to try the crab cocktail that everyone seemed to be ordering so we had a cup. It's freshly pulled lump crabmeat with a little lemon on the side. It's simple but real tasty. Later she wanted to try the salt water taffy which is extremely chewy sticky candy. She was chewing viscously on a piece when she felt something hard. She took it out of her mouth to see what it was and there sits one of her expensive crowns. Holy crown: $110 repair job caused by a $2 bag of candy. Admission on the wharf is free unless you want to drive out on it, then you pay.

Beauregard serves great estate grown wines you won't find hardly anywhere else in the world due to limited production. Beauregardhas a wine tasting room on the Santa Cruz Wharf above Marinis Candies. Great views and special events schedule make this a good place to taste wine and party. They open every day at 11 am but call 831-425-7777 to verify its not closed for a private party.

At the Santa Cruz Wharf you can rent a kayak, wetsuit and gear, includes a quick lesson for only $45 a day on the wharf as well. It is the best way to get real close to the wildlife in the water, snorkel around, and check out the variety of sea life on the ocean floor. You will be extremely tired after this so start early and plan accordingly.

the santa cruz cliffs fall right into the heavy surf. Seals abound and so do surfers.

We parked at the world famous Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and walked the 5-mile round trip sidewalk. There were thousands of people to see from all walks of life, some dressed in bikinis standing right next to someone in a parka, dogs and cats being walked, birds flying overhead, awesome beachfront views the entire way, bathrooms and cold outdoor showers where the Pier meets the sidewalk, surfing, huge sea lions and seals all over the shoreline, rocky cliffs, places to eat, and hotels. Once again lots of free no hassle fun for the day.

The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum was real cute, built into a lighthouse and listed as a historic monument. Inside it was very small but the history on those walls was fantastic. I learned that the first US surfers were basically Californians coming back from Hawaiian vacations having seen the Hawaiian natives surfing giant planks of wood. Once back in California they began to carve similar boards and used all types of things to create interesting rides. Worth seeing and free.

They seem to be strict about overnight parking along the ocean here so I wouldn't try it. Go inland and park roadside in a neighborhood and come back to the beach early each morning for good free day parking. We traveled north and spent the night and next few days at Half Moon Bay California near enough to Santa Cruz California.

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