About a year and a half ago, my family packed up and left San Diego for the cool, coastal breezes of Santa Cruz. My husband and I stayed behind (because... jobs) so we visit every month or so. We try. I've lived in California for a decade now, but have never truly visited Santa Cruz and BOY am I telling you I have found my happy place.
If you love mountains, forests, cool weather, beautiful coastlines, marine life, and a laid-back, health-conscious culture... visit NOW. My parents moved into a treehouse (it might as well be, it's up against a canyon), and I look forward to my cozy mornings cuddled up with coffee and my jammies on the deck watching the fog roll out.
We recently visited in July and the weather was unseasonably HOT but that didn't stop us from doing our favorite things! Below are some of the best adventures you can have in Santa Cruz... Knight style.
Venture into a world of giant Redwoods at The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. An easy to get to, hard to leave place right off the 1 Freeway. Due to an intense amount of logging back in the early 20th century, the forest was nearly wiped out. What a freakin bummer! Once the loggers left, the forest began to rebound (yeeee Mother Nature!). It almost makes the height and density of these trees more impressive, knowing that they are only about 100 years old. Bring your hiking shoes, water, and maybe a neck brace since you'll be staring up at these beauties for hours!
A short drive into the mountains and you'll find yourself at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Another amazing place to find Redwoods, but these babies are old-growth trees which means H-U-G-E boys. Just look at the ones above! Those people are so tiny.
Take a leisurely stroll along East Cliff Dr. Start near Capitola, and make your way towards Pleasure Point. On the way, you'll see unparalleled views of the ocean and surfers, legendary Jack O'Neil's house, and maybe a shark or two (just kidding... or not. I'm terrified). Make sure to end your walk at The Point Market for the best breakfast burritos in town! Seriously though, they rival San Diego. You know how's picky we are about our Mexican food. Oh, and wear a hat on your walk. There's plenty o' sun.
Another one of my favorite outdoorsy adventures is hiking around Wilder Ranch State Park. The cliffs along the water are breathtaking. It's truly nothing like San Diego. The crop fields line the coast and tall pine trees are visible in the distance. Bring a picnic lunch in your backpack and pop a squat on the beach (might have to hike down to it).
I have a few more favorite spots, but I'll post those the next time we fly up there (which should be in the fall, I hope!). If you have any questions about visiting Santa Cruz, feel free to ask! I'm not an expert (yet) but I do have some good ol' recommendations about where to find the best food and booze and beach spots.
the best adventures are ahead,