Waves, Banana Slugs, and Redwoods: Santa Cruz, California
Collected by Madeline Horn, AFAR Local Expert
My hometown of Santa Cruz has beaches, farms, music, unique food, an amusement park, a university, a thriving downtown, surfing, redwoods, and lots of new agers. Unfortunately visitors sometimes have a hard time scratching the surface and settle for a day trip to the boardwalk. As a local I know the spots that make Santa Cruz so special, and I'm sharing some of them here!
700 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
I spent Sunday at the O’Neill Coldwater Classic surfing competition, happening this week at Steamer Lane, Santa Cruz’s most famous surf spot. I walked through the tan, mostly blonde, athletic, surf casual crowd I heard Australian accents and...
701 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is located in a historic lighthouse overlooking the sea on the city’s favorite strolling street with a view, West Cliff Drive. Museum exhibits interpret surfing culture through the decades with photos, surfboards,...
Twin Lakes, CA, USA
Santa Cruz farms produce an embarrassment of riches – on display at local farmers’ markets, happening nearly every day of the week around town. The Live Oak Farmers Market, held at East Cliff Village on Sundays 9am-1pm is a great way to spend your...
400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Old school pinball, beer, air hockey and museum: the perfect combination of amusements come together on the mezzanine overlooking Neptune’s Kingdom at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Neptune’s Kingdom is a pirate-themed miniature golf course in...
861 41st Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062, USA
The ocean is the heart of the Pleasure Point neighborhood in Santa Cruz, but surfers and sun worshippers need to shop and eat to. The shops, cafés and restaurants on 41st Avenue, near Portola Drive, two blocks from the ocean, cater to the unique...
175 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
The Dream Inn has towered over Cowell’s Beach, the Santa Cruz Wharf, and the Boardwalk since 1954. The hotel is retro swanky and recently renovated into a boutique hotel by new owners, joie de vivre. Guests can stroll down West Cliff Drive (a...
3600 CA-1, Davenport, CA 95017, USA
Rancho del Oso recently opened a nature and history center, part of Big Basin California State Park, located 17 miles north of Santa Cruz (past Davenport) at Wadell Creek. The ranch got its name from the Grizzly Bears that once frequented the...
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is an easy drive from Santa Cruz’s downtown and beaches. The accessible Redwood Grove Loop Trail brings you quickly into the world of the big trees and bright yellow banana slugs. If you have more time, you can...
125 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
The Picnic Basket, across the street from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, brings local, seasonal, farm fresh ingredients to arguably the most unhealthy area of Santa Cruz. The Boardwalk amusement park lures many visitors to Santa Cruz each year....
4415, 1124 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Built in 1936 and dripping with colorful deco style inside and out, the Del Mar Theatre, on Santa Cruz’s main drag, Pacific Avenue is the best place in town to see films. The beloved movie house was renovated in 2002, when programming switched...
Pleasure Point, Opal Cliffs, CA 95062, USA
East Cliff Drive in the Pleasure Point neighborhood of Santa Cruz overlooks the expansive Pacific Ocean and some of the best surfing in the country. Jack O’Neill lives here, along with many neighbors who live to surf. This is a side of Santa Cruz...
Davenport, CA 95017, USA
Steps south on Highway One from tiny Davenport, CA, sits a pirate's cove of a beach, perfect for picnics. Explore the sea cave, get your feet wet, or sit and admire the beautiful views. Be careful in the ocean, since two sets of waves converge...
1401 Coast Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
Butterflies led our way down the Old Cove Landing Trail out to the coastal bluffs. We rounded a bend to a view of pristine Wilder Beach - completely off-limits to humans as a nature preserve. The water sparkled shades of aquamarine, and the sand...
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