It’s officially the start of my birthday week which naturally calls for at least a 7 day-celebration. I kicked it off yesterday by taking a trip to the coast, somewhere I haven’t really had the chance to explore since we moved to Cali. In my opinion, there’s nothing better than walking along a sandy beach as the tide rolls over your toes, with a fresh breeze blowing and the smell of salt in the air–AKA, the best start to a birthday week! Here’s how to spend a day in Santa Cruz, California.
Visit the Historic Beach Boardwalk
A family-owned company since 1907, the Santa Cruz boardwalk and amusement park is the oldest in California, yes even older than Disneyland! The amusement park is nestled right on the sandy beach, where sun-bathers can grab a quick carnival-inspired snack or take a thrilling ride on a roller coaster. While the amusement park is only open on the weekends, the gates are always open for visitors to roam around. As I was strolling through it, I could only imagine what this place was like in the hustle and bustle days a century ago. The owners of the Beach Boardwalk make it a priority to bring entertainment to its visitors at a reasonable price, which is a breath of fresh air when you live in the most expensive state! The arcade that’s located next door to the amusement park was reasonable, at about 50 cents a game and parking for the entire day in the main Boardwalk parking lot was only $5. While visiting Santa Cruz, take a walk through the amusement park and down the main street, where the colorful buildings and palm trees create a paradise atmosphere.
Walk the Santa Cruz Wharf
North of the beach boardwalk is the Santa Cruz Wharf, originally built in 1914. After 6 additions to the pier, it now reigns as the longest in California, extending over a half mile out into the Pacific Ocean. The Wharf brings another piece of entertainment to the Santa Cruz area by allowing visitors to rent kayaks and surfing equipment or embark on boat tours out into the ocean. Along with shopping for souvenirs, you can watch sea lions sun-bathing on the pillars below the dock, enjoy a freshly-baked waffle cone of delicious ice cream at Marini’s Munchies, indulge in fresh clam chowder or crab at one of the 10 restaurants, or sit on a bench and gaze out at the Pacific, listening to the squeals of the seagulls flying by.
Dip Your Toes in the Pacific at the Cliff-Side Beach
While Santa Cruz’s Beach Boardwalk lines up to a stretch of sandy beach, on the opposite side of the Wharf is an even more stunning piece of paradise. Walk under the dock to cool off and hear the sounds of sea lions, feel the fresh sand under your toes along the shoreline and climb around on the rocks and the edge of the cliffs that hug the beach.
Santa Cruz is definitely a must-see on the west coast of California. Not only is it incredibly entertaining with stunning scenery, it holds so much history, hinting at what entertainment was like in America in the early 1900s. We had one of the best days exploring this seaside town and can’t wait to go back again!