By Theresa Christine
Santa Cruz is a sweet, scenic escape that absolutely stole my heart. This beach town has it all–jaw-dropping scenery, quirky shops, famous landmarks, and food that’ll have you drooling. Hope you’re ready to have your mind blown, folks, because though she be small, Santa Cruz packs a wallop!
You’ll want to start your day out with something delicious but not too filling, so make your way to Saturn Cafe for breakfast. The portions aren’t too big, and the food is super healthy, so you’ll leave feeling energized for sightseeing. Aside from some yummy pancakes, they also have a mandatory breakfast item in my books: mimosas. Absolutely the best way to get some vitamin C for the day, teehee!
The views at Shark Tooth Beach, also called Davenport Cove Beach, are absolutely stunning and you’ll get plenty of exercise frolicking around there. Take advantage of Santa Cruz’s location right on Highway 1 and ride about ten miles north to this little secluded beach (if you’ve hit the little beach-y shops of Davenport on your right, you’ve gone just a bit too far). Heading down to the water is fun, but also take some time to check out the upper part by the cliffs! I felt like an explorer wandering around and climbing around on some of the rocks, and the views literally left me without words.
Next up is the famed Santa Cruz Boardwalk, where you’ll find all the classics you’d expect and more, like mini golf, a carousel, laser tag, and arcade games. Also, though I was a little scared, I went ahead and hopped on the Giant Dipper roller coaster. It’s a historic landmark, and you’ll get a great view of the Boardwalk. That is, you’ll get a great view if, unlike me, you can stop screaming and open your eyes.
Neighboring Santa Cruz is Capitola, which is home to the original Pizza My Heart, a perfect mid-day meal. There’s no seating at this location, so grab a cheesy slice and eat it (or if you’re like me, devour it) as you make your way to Cava’s, a wine bar right around the corner. While the interior isn’t anything special, the service is excellent and the wine: delightful. I sampled a 2007 Burrell School Chardonnay: perfectly smooth and buttery, and got a cheese plate since one can never have too much cheese. They have a divine French triple crème cow’s milk: Brillat-Savarin you must try. I left feeling like one lucky lady.
Now’s the time to scope out some beachfront property and get some afternoon sun. This is the part of your day that’s kind of like “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” books. Because there are so many beaches to choose from, they’re all super close together, and they’re all awesome in their own way, this is your chance to improvise. You’re already in Capitola, and the beach there has fewer tourists to cramp yo’ style. Seabright State Beach has a lighthouse and beautiful views of the Boardwalk. I actually went to Twin Lakes State Beach and enjoyed watching sailboats off in the distance, so that’s my personal recommendation. Still, whether you’re interested in a barefoot beach walk or some lovely photo opps, you can’t go wrong no matter where you go. Just remember the SPF 30, of course.
After the nom, it’s time to park it downtown for the rest of the day. There’s plenty to see, and as you wander around, make sure to stop by Mission Hill Creamery for some delicious scoops. I decided on lime cardamom ice cream, and it was basically heaven in my mouth. Afterwards, walk up Pacific Avenue a few blocks to Serpent’s Kiss where you’ll find incense, oils, jewelry, and other ritual accessories. I enjoyed the tarot deck selection, and if you’ve got a little extra cash, you can also get a tarot reading! Also, the Del Mar Theater is blocks away, so this is a chance to watch an indie flick in a theater with a crapload of awesome history behind it. They also serve organic and GMO-free popcorn, which, let’s be honest, you’d only ever see in California.
Now, I’m a simple gal, and what could be simpler than burgers for dinner? Betty Burgers caught my eye because of the adorable pin-up model in their logo and the saucy catchphrase, “Juicy Patties, Hot Buns.” Lo and behold, the food is crazy-good. I snacked hard on some shoestring fries, and my only complaint is that it wasn’t all-you-can-eat. There’s also a plethora of burger choices, so chow down, my friends.
And for your last stop in Santa Cruz, you’ll grab a drink at the Poet & Patriot Irish Pub. Now, yes, I do enjoy fine mixed drinks and cocktails à la Sex in the City, but sometimes a gal just wants a beer at a cozy bar. Poet & Patriot hit the spot, and they had an impressive offering of local and domestic beer. The Santa Cruz Ale Works IPA did me good, and topped off an amazing day. Cheers to you, Santa Cruz, I’ll be back again soon!
Enjoy your beach getaway! I certainly did. Be on the lookout for next month’s Travel That, for a new day in a new location.