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Guide: How to Spend the Perfect Day in Santa Cruz

natural bridges

Santa Cruz, the small beach town about 75 miles South of San Francisco, is best known for having one of the oldest seaside amusement parks in California, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Beyond that, it also has a number of beautiful beaches, redwood forests, delectable cuisine, a burgeoning beer and wine culture and so much more. It’s a sought after travel destination that has adventure for everyone and is worth taking a couple of days to explore. However, if you only have a short amount of time to venture, we have the top stops to make the most out of your day in Santa Cruz…

Start the day with a cup of coffee and a walk on West Cliff. Grab a cup from local coffee company Verve on the Westside and take it to go for your walk along the cliffs. Start at Natural Bridges, and make your down the cliff, pass by the Santa Cruz Lighthouse and continue on to the Santa Cruz Wharf. Catch glimpses of sea otters and surfers out for an early morning surf along the way.


//Courtesy of

surfers//Cowell’s Beach//

After all that walking you will surely have worked up an appetite. Without a doubt, the most fun place to get breakfast in Santa Cruz is Harbor Cafe. They have an amazing Polenta Benedict served with avocado and pesto, as well as a variety of  excellent breakfast cocktails. Be prepared to wait awhile for a table, but it’s worth it! You can sip on a Bloody Mary in the sunshine while you wait. It could be worse, right?

After breakfast it’s time for some shopping and exploring in Downtown Santa Cruz. Stroll along Pacific Avenue and check out the many great shops, coffee spots, bars and eateries. For great shopping and unique clothing, jewelry and home good finds, be sure to stop inside Stripe, Botanic and Luxe, and Wallflower Boutique. Check out MetaVinyl for some great old school records, and browse the shelves for a good book at Bookshop Santa Cruz , the locally owned independent bookstore that’s been around for 50 years! After all that shopping, it’s time for a treat! Pick up a cupcake at Buttercup Cakes or a coffee and scone at  Cafe Delmarette.

cafe delmar//Cafe Delmarette//

Next up, some beer and wine tasting at the many wine, beer and liquor tasting rooms on the West side. Start at MJA Vineyards for some great reds and continue on to Equinox for delicious sparkling wine, Sones Cellars for their signature white, Venus Spirits for gin and whiskey , and finally Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, for award winning organic beer. They have unique flavors like Lavender IPA and Horchata Pale Ale.

venus spirits

//Venus Spirits//

For dinner, walk over to nearby West End Tap Room and Kitchen for the confit chicken flatbread and cheese board. And to end the night, explore one of the many cultural events or live performances that always pop up throughout town.Moe’s Alley, the Crepe Place and Club Kuumbwa are known to have a lot of musical talent come through and are amazing venues to see live music.  Explore one of the creative collaborations and events at the Museum of Modern Art in town, or catch an independent film at the Nickelodeon Theater. What a day!

And what better way to end a day then by going back to your beach house by the sea. Stay at a professionally managed beach house in the area, complete with luxury living spaces and breathtaking views of the ocean.

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