Santa Cruz is a funky, laid-back beach town just over the mountains from the hectic Bay Area. The streets fill with day-trippers on the weekends, but the hippie roots remain strong here. Visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, open since 1907 and California’s oldest surviving amusement park. Try Marianne’s Ice Cream, watch the surfers from East Cliff Drive, and boggle your senses at the “Mystery Spot.” Stroll the sandy beaches, wander the lush old-growth redwood forests, and search for banana slugs on the forested University of California campus. Santa Cruz is a typically quirky California gem.