Santa Cruz

Things to Do/See

  • Beaches and Coastline

    • Seabright is less crowded than the beach right by the boardwalk

    • the area along West Cliff Drive has a nice, paved promenade overlooking the ocean

    • Natural Bridges Park - has some beautiful vistas and a nice beach...also has Monarch butterfly preserve?

    • Wilder Ranch State Park - has nice trails overlooking the ocean; don't miss the "fern grotto beach", which is pretty cool)

    • Henry Cowell Redwoods - not far from Roaring Camp / Felton

    • Pleasure Point - popular with surfers

  • Bonny Doon Vineyard -->?

  • Santa Cruz Boardwalk - a bit toursity but has some "old fashioned" games/rides/etc.

    • the Wharf is pretty touristy but has some nice views from the end (and an old-school candy shop that Adam loved)

  • Roaring Camp Steam Train - this company runs two different trains:

    • Beach train - runs on weekends, leaves Boardwalk at noon, arrives Roaring Camp (Felton logging camp) 1 PM, 2 PM departure, back at 3 PM

    • Redwood Forest train - ~every day, 75 min round trip up/down Bear Mountain

  • In Pescadero

    • Swanton Berry Farm U-Pick in Pescadero

    • Pie Ranch - nice farm with a pretty elaborate "farm stand" that also runs events

    • Harley Goat Farm - nice spot if you like goats

    • Slow Coast - a nice shop (also a bigger one in Davenport that has a garden, etc.)

  • North of Santa Cruz

    • Elephant Seals at Año Nuevo State Park

    • Pigeon Point Lighthouse (also a hostel)

Places to Eat

  • Laili - great, California-fresh, upscale Afghan food...don't miss the boranee (roasted butternut squash) and lamb kabobs. Mediterranean plate is so-so (we found the hummus a bit bland and the babaghanoush too roasted garlic-y).

  • Copal - great Oaxacan food in the "Westside"; our favorite was Molotes (corn wrapped around potatoes). Also good mole negro and tlayuda ("Mexican pizza")

  • Mutari Chocolate - bean-to-bar single-origin chocolate (similar to—and we like it better than— Dandelion in SF). Great drinking chocolate & truffles. Brownies are the rich, slightly gooey kind.

  • Steamer Lane Supply - a to-go (although they have picnic tables) spot with fusion-y casual food overlooking the ocean; we liked their pork (in carnitas tacos and kim chee rice) but it looks like everything is good

  • want to try:

    • Pretty Good Advice - vegetarian place in Soquel, ex-Michelin chefs make things like quinoa bowls

    • Trestles Restaurant - looks really nice, relatively new, in Capitola

    • Bantam - pizza and more, most non pizza dishes (including fried chicken) can be made GF

    • Companion Bakeshop - Eater SF rec's for sourdough, also other pastries?...one branch in Westside, one in Aptos

    • ?East End Gastropub in Capitola - nice looking eggplant, pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads, spaghetti with meatballs

    • ?Zameen at the Point - Mediterranean food

    • ?Cafe Brasil - looks like nice breakfast / açai bowls?

  • recommended with reservations:

    • Abbot Square Market - foot court, nice place to hang out, although none of the food was worth writing home about

    • Penny Ice Creamery - *great* ingredients but not the best texture (a bit icy)

Places to Stay

  • See notes from our wedding website

  • Our favorite place is Babbling Brook Inn, which is far from the water but super-romantic and cozy (and with a good breakfast)