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The only way to reach the cozy beach town of Santa Cruz in Northern California is by driving through the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains. Head to this surfer town for beautiful beaches, brushes with nature and bountiful activities.
What to do
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is pretty famous. It boasts a quaint 1950s amusement park right next to the water, a beautiful large beach and plenty of other activities, like an arcade and movie theater. It’s a fun time for both kids and adults! Kayak Connection, not far from the Boardwalk on Lake Avenue, offers kayak rentals and tours, boogie board rentals and standup paddleboarding classes. Take a wine cruise with Chardonnay Sailing Charters or go whale watching or sport fishing on the Stagnaro Cruises.
For other activities away from the water, head to the kooky Mystery Spot in a rural area in the foothills. Things are not as they seem in this “gravitational anomaly.” See a show at the Nickelodeon Theatre movie house or the quaint Shakespeare Santa Cruz theatre at the local university.
What to see
Santa Cruz offers a panoply of scenic vistas and nature hikes. Visit the stunning Natural Bridges State Park to see (and walk under at low tide) the naturally arched rock formation. Take a bike ride or drive on West Cliff Drive - as the name implies, it’s on a cliff overlooking the Monterey Bay. It offers some impressive views. Drive around the expansive, bucolic University of Santa Cruz Campus to see deer and other wildlife and pay a visit to the farm.
Where to eat
One of the best places for shopping and dining is the Santa Cruz Wharf - not far from the boardwalk and lined with restaurants and shops selling local goods. head to Gilda’s, Riva Fish House or Stagnaro Bros. Restaurant on the wharf for the best locally caught seafood around. Extract: The only way to reach the cozy beach town of Santa Cruz in Northern California is by driving through the scenic Santa Cruz Mountains.