Issue 29Travel

Hanging Loose in Santa Cruz

By Ashley Stinson

The Valley heat can sometimes be overwhelming and leave you looking for somewhere to escape to.

For times like these, a beach getaway might be just the thing, and Santa Cruz could be the perfect coastal day trip to give you a break. Santa Cruz boasts scenic beaches, a boardwalk full of rides, and a unique atmosphere that sets it far apart from other cities.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk provides all the fun of a fair or carnival, all summer long, and is as great a date night destination as it is a family trip. Whether you like the calmness of the giant carousel, or you prefer thrills of the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster, there’s a ride at the boardwalk to suit anyone’s taste.

The Boardwalk also boasts a two-story arcade, a mini golf course, snack stands, and, throughout the summer, events held on the adjacent beach. You can hunker down in the sand for Wednesday movie nights, or Friday night concerts.

The Beaches

If you don’t like the hustle and bustle of the Boardwalk, Santa Cruz also boasts many other beaches where you can sunbathe, play in the water, or even catch a few waves. Seabright and Twin Lakes Beach are popular spots, located right in the city, with soft sand and convenient fire pits for beach bonfires with friends. For something a little more secluded, you can head to Panther Beach, just north of town, and take in the romantic view just beneath the ocean cliffs.

Downtown Santa Cruz

Back in the city, downtown Santa Cruz is just a short walk away from the beach, and offers a wide array of shops and restaurants. The downtown boutiques are a great way to pick up unique summer fashions. If you’re feeling peckish after shopping, you can stop in for a bite to eat at Saturn Cafe, which offers tasty vegetarian and vegan cuisine, or get a glass of wine and some uniquely Californian eats at Soif Restaurant.

Or, if you’re looking to indulge your sweet tooth a bit, you can get fresh, locally made ice cream at Mission Hill Creamery, or stop into Marini’s candy shop for some of their fudge, or their chocolate covered bacon.

The Woods

Every summer at DeLaveaga park, the Santa Cruz Shakespeare company puts on shows at the Grove, a breath-taking outdoor theatre venue nestled among the redwood trees. This summer, they’ll be putting on Measure by Measure and Two Gentlemen of Verona. You can take in more of the majesty of the redwoods with Roaring Camp Railroads, which offers scenic steam engine rides around the area, through Santa Cruz’s surrounding redwood forest.

For some non-native natural beauty, the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum is the place to go. The Arboretum contains endangered plants from all over the world on a vast, 145 acre site where they can be appreciated and protected from going entirely extinct. Admission to the Arboretum is free on the first Tuesday of every month.

The Mystery Spot

If you’re looking for something a little weird, or just looking to get a neat yellow bumper sticker, you can head to the famous Mystery Spot. This bizarre point in the mountains near Santa Cruz has been a busy tourist attraction for years, and the strange physics of the spot may amaze and confound you–and also make for some great photo ops.

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