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.
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.