Weekend Getaway: What to Do in Santa Cruz

We are taking advantage of the summer and bopping along the Bay Area, doing everything you can possibly do within a 150 mile radius of San Francisco. Check out this itinerary that Angie Picardo from NerdWallet put together as inspiration for this trip. Below is what we ended up conquering.

What to Do in Santa Cruz

Friday

Checked in to the Beach Street Inn, which happened to have a room open up when I called them. Not that expensive and centrally-located by the Boardwalk.

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Strolled along the pier on our way to Stagnaro Bros for dinner. Unremarkable. I wouldn’t recommend it, although a lot of locals said they loved it. Beware the tourist restaurant traps.

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We were like teenagers on a date, walking up and down the Boardwalk, riding roller coasters, and happened upon Cracker live in concert. We had an upper-level unobstructed view for free. What luck!

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Saturday

Hiking at Henry Cowell Redwood State Park. We were so happy to find this swimming hole! Swimming holes are the ultimate sign of summer!

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We topped off our day in the sun by wine tasting at Hallcrest Vineyards. So good! We finished the night having dinner at 515 Kitchen & Cocktails which was surprisingly good, but I didn’t get any pictures from dinner. I say surprisingly because living in SF, you get spoiled eating damn good food. So when you go anywhere else, you tend to be disappointed.

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Sunday

We went to mass for the first time since the miscarriage, so yeah, kind of a big deal for us. We went to Holy Cross, formerly Mission Santa Cruz. The pastor, hailing from Brooklyn, was excellent. Totally hilarious and had a good message about bringing God into our daily lives. At the end of the day, take 3 minutes to think of the following: 1) What happened during the day that you are grateful for? 2) What happened during the day that upset you that you can ask the Lord to help you heal? 3) What can you do and think about to make tomorrow your best day? Just 3 minutes!

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After church, we walked all along Natural Bridges State Beach.

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Santa Cruz – Away From the Boardwalk

This post was written by Angie Picardo who writes for NerdWallet. Thank you Angie for providing us with an outline for an amazing weekend getaway to Santa Cruz. I will follow-up with my own post very soon.

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When thinking of the perfect Bay Area ‘stay-cation’ many opt to visit Santa Cruz, not only is it nearby but it has many attractions that will please anyone. With summer upon us, the Boardwalk is the obvious choice for many visitors. Yet there are many more attractions to be seen in this idyllic beach town, if you want the beauty of the beach without the screams of roller coaster passengers or the scent of corn dogs lingering in your nostrils.

Natural Bridges State Beach – The beach is named for its naturally formed stone bridge and is the perfect place to see the California coastline as its best.

Surfer’s Museum – Located along West Cliff Drive, the Surfer’s Museum is located in an old lighthouse.  The Museum grounds have a nice walkway along the cliff edge where you can watch surfers practicing their art at Steamer Lane. This world famous surf spot also offers an amazing view of the Monterey Bay.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park – If you want to head inland a bit, you can head up Highway 9 and into the Santa Cruz mountains to lovely Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The park has 20 miles of hiking and riding trails that wind through centuries old redwood trees.  Some breeds of dogs are allowed but please check the park’s website for a complete list. There is also a campground in the park if you want to make a weekend of it.

Roaring Camp Railroad – A few miles from Henry Cowell Park is the popular Roaring Camp Railroad, which is highly recommended if you are traveling with kids. You can take the train up through the redwoods or all the way down to the Boardwalk.

Downtown Santa Cruz – While Santa Cruz isn’t lacking in natural beauty, taking a stroll down Pacific Avenue gives you a glimpse into what makes Santa Cruz so unique. Downtown boasts entertainment venues and many museums including the Museum of Art and History, theaters, shops, and wine tasting.

And after a long day, stopping in at Vino Cruz to enjoy their selection of wines is the perfect end to a summer day.  You can also unwind on the patio of 515 Kitchen and Cocktails and enjoy one of the many delicious specialty cocktails and appetizers.

Eats! – With all of this exploring around Santa Cruz you’re going to get hungry, there are plenty of excellent restaurants to choose from.

  • Stagnaro Bros – For some amazing fresh fish and beautiful ocean views head you won’t be disappointed with Stagnaro Bros which is located on the Santa Cruz municipal wharf.
  • Hula’s – This fun, Polynesian inspired cuisine in a fun Tiki atmosphere and it located in Downtown Santa Cruz.
  • The Greek – Eat where the local’s eat!  The Greek has the best Greek  food outside the Mediterranean.

Where to stay – After a long day of fun in the sun a long drive back to the Bay may be the last thing you want to do. So why not make an extended trip and stay in a hotel?

  • The Holiday Inn Express – on Ocean Street has clean, comfortable, and affordable rooms.
  • Sea and Sand Inn – Great views, clean rooms and its located walking distance to the beach.

Next time you want a fun and convenient get away Santa Cruz is your best bet for a great time.

Angie Picardo is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance and travel site dedicated to helping people save money, whether it’s planning an effective budget or finding the best online stock brokers.

That’s All Well and Good

Time for a lifestyle, fitness, health status update.

I started seeing a new acupuncturist today. I found her after doing some research; she was awarded best SF acupuncturist by the San Francisco A-List. I also gravitated toward her undergraduate background: BA in environmental studies from UCSC with an emphasis on biology and writing. Oh yeah! Great minds think alike. I’m excited. We established key metrics and have a plan in place.

She was was pretty impressed with what I’ve done so far to get on track:

  • Stopped taking medication: wellbutrin, ambien, no more botox.
  • Eliminated sugar from my diet.
  • Eliminated caffeine from my diet.
  • Curtailed alcohol consumption.

I feel like I’ve done so much, but I have more homework. Here were her recommendations:

  • Acupuncture 1-2x week.
  • Chinese herbs.
  • Try Juice Plus, PreNatal, PreNatal fish oil.
  • Avoid wheat, soy, dairy. Try almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk.
  • Eat cooked, warm food and drink.

I see a nutritionist on Monday and will share her recommendations as well.

Best Wine May Possibly Be in Santa Cruz

Went to the Thomas Fogerty Winery in Woodside today for a work event. Beats the office for sure!

I was so tempted to buy one of their $70 bottles of Pinot Noir which was one of the best pinots I’ve ever had. Even better than Papapietro which I love. Instead I decided I would have to return and do a full tasting. Their wines are top-notch. All the New York attendees were trying to figure out how many they could take on the plane.

This was my first foray into wine tasting in the Santa Cruz mountains. I was very impressed with both the winery and the high-quality wine. I also like Ridge wine which is made in Santa Cruz so we all must do a weekend wine trip to this appellation in 2013.

I have to make a comment about the horrid commute back into the city. First, it took me about 40 minutes to get to Woodside from San Francisco at 11am. But the return home took me a good 90 minutes. What a clusterF. It’s easy for me to whine since I’m not used to it. I understand that people have to do it, but holy crap. I’d have to pimp my ride with all the bells and whistles to keep me entertained (speaker phone, audio books, podcasts).

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