Guide to: Santa Cruz

Basically grew up coming to this quaint surf town and then I got engaged here so it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

So excited to spend a couple days with the family here before we head up north to Tahoe (NV side!)

S T A Y 

The Dream Inn is the main place to stay in Santa Cruz. It overlooks the boardwalk and the Pacific so it is a total dream. BUT the past few times we stayed here – we went Air Bnb and it was perfect. I recommend staying somewhere near East/West Cliff or even Capitola.


Verve Coffee is a must stop. If you love good coffee, you’ll love Verve. They do it right and then some. Pick up some of their merch while you’re at! Camp mugs are a favorite.

Walnut Avenue Cafe – cute little breakfast/diner with delicious home-cooked style food.

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing – what you’d think you’d find. An amazing local spot with delicious organic brews.

West End Tap & Kitchen – a great place to eat before diving in to SCMB or SCMW.

The Crow’s Nest – cool outdoor seating (right on the water) delicious food and on weekends they have live music. If artichokes are on the menu, get’em!

Pizza My Heart – a must! Multiple locations – doesn’t matter, just choose one!

Pleasure Pizza – surfers love pizza and you’ll love this spot too.

The Penny Ice Creamery – the best spot for ice cream. Hands down.

Oswald – nice date night spot. Great atmosphere, hand crafted drinks and fine dining cuisine.

S H O P 

Santa Cruz Boardroom – all things surf and skate. Their logo shirts are a staple. Free stickers!!

Downtown Capitola – galleries, boutiques and art galore! Plus some great restaurants on the beach. The colorful buildings make this little town a total GEM.

Downtown Santa Cruz – Gap, American Apparel, Oneil Surf to local shops. Everyone I’m sure will find something.

B E A C H E S 

Main Beach – right off the boardwalk, can’t miss it!

Seabright State Beach – view of the boardwalk, lighthouse and small craft harbor.

Capitola Beach – typically a busy beach, but centrally located to downtown Capitola which makes it a hot spot!

Seacliff State Beach – a little less busy and you can camp/hike.

Rio Del Mar State Beach – a quaint little beach with public parking, restrooms, picnic benches etc. This is where I spend most of my CA beach days.


Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – a classic! Do as little as you want there, or go BIG! Either way it’s a total spectacle.

Santa Cruz Wharf

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum – a nice little walk on W. Cliff you’ll make your way to the quaint Surfers Museum. Sweet little spot. Great for pictures!

Bike Rental – the day my husband proposed we rented a tandem bike and rode it all around Seacliff and Capitola.

Surf Lessons – surf city! But if you’re not from the West Coast, fair warning the water is collldddd.

Paddle Boarding – if you’re up for the challenge! Perfect spot in Santa Cruz harbor.

Drive up to Carmel! With world class shops, restaurants and coastal views, it won’t disappoint!


Sunny days and chilly nights. Layers are key. 

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