I really enjoy visiting Santa Cruz. This past spring break I was able to see much more of the town and it continued to intrigue me. Max said he enjoyed the town as well, but said there was some “riff-raff” that he had not seen in Monterey.
It took us an hour to drive up the coast to Santa Cruz from Monterey, a very quick drive. Our first stop was downtown, Pacific Avenue. I loved the independent bookstore, Book Shop Santa Cruz, and walking the streets. I could not leave downtown without buying a Santa Cruz t-shirt from one of the surf shops. We stopped at 99 Bottles of Beer for lunch. Once you have drunk all 99 of the beers you receive a plaque on the wall. If you do this 10 times you receive an engraved brick on the wall, nice! I had a local brew, called Uncommon Brewers Casserly Pale Ale, with my excellent lunch. We wanted to return for lunch the following day, but weren’t in that area unfortunately.
Of note the bathroom in 99 Bottles of Beer had a chalk board wall. I had to write a quick note, as did Malina, and snap a few shots of what was already written on the walls.
Santa Cruz is a surfing haven. We made our way to the outside of the Surf Museum, which is located in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse at Lighthouse Point and took some time to watch the surfers tackle the waves. Wow, these are big waves compared to the ones in Los Angeles! And the beach where they paddle out has a very rocky shore. If you don’t know what you are doing you could easily be injured or killed. Speaking of losing lives, I saw memorials dedicated to surfers who have not made it out alive. One other interesting thing that I saw was two guys playing music outside of their van in this same area. The feeling here was one with lots of energy and a little erie!
We took a quick trip to the University of California, Santa Cruz. I love this campus. It is gigantic and chock–full of nature. We made our way to the bookstore after coasting the highway through campus. We managed to find a few people at the right time to take a few family photos too.
I finally had a chance to visit the Santa Cruz Wharf, which is the longest pier on the West Coast. (over 2,700 feet). There are a number of restaurants and shops lined along the pier as well as people fishing. In one store I noticed that Santa Cruz was called “Surfing City USA” and made a comment to the cashier that Hunnington Beach (in Southern California) has this title as well. Apparently the two towns had a little legal battle over this very issue.
What I loved the most about the wharf was the sea lions! Parking and looking out at the ocean it looked like there was trash or wood in the ocean (that would be the case at a Los Angeles beach!) In reality it was the tails of the sea lions in the ocean. They were just hanging out. I loved it!!
The kids could not wait to make it to the boardwalk where all the rides are. We made our way here on our second day in town. Since it was lunch time we ate a carnival style lunch on the boardwalk before tackling the rides. I have a friend who lives in the area, Caitlin, so late afternoon she met up with us with her husband and son. It was actually a funny moment because all the sudden I had a little one hugging my leg and I had to do a head count. I saw my two children in front of me, so who was this? It took a moment to register that it was Ryan! We road some rides with them and headed to the beach to catch up.
Of note Matteo and I rocked at carnival games. We tried one game, two turns, and won. Max (my husband) played four or five games and could not win anything!
On our next visit to Santa Cruz I will try to stay for two nights instead of one so we can explore even more. I know there are great hiking spots and a train that goes through the redwoods nearby.