Narrated by Keith Lewis (with input from Lynn)
Santa Cruz is the sleepy coastal cousin of the Bay Area, and is a popular escape from the busy city life. While many enjoy the wide variety of beaches in Santa Cruz, the city offers a plethora of relaxing, non-water related activities (and a few water-based ones too). So let's explore this scenic meeting place of the forest and the sea!
Things to Do
Eat + Drink
VERVE COFFEE ROASTERS
If you know me, you know I take coffee very seriously (and very black). While I left my heart in San Francisco (hello Ritual!), my household supply of coffee tells a different story. For almost a year now, we have been a Verve household. I use their Street Level blend to make cold brew, the Sermon blend for espresso, and a rotation of their seasonal single-origins for my morning pourover. The baristas taught me how to make Lynn's favorite drink - the missile, the only coffee I don't drink black. This cold drink is perfect for warm summer days and busy mornings before work - 3 parts cold brew concentrate, 1 part half half and half, and a teaspoon of simple syrup. For chilly days in this coastal town, Verve serves the best mocha around. Plus, you can't go wrong with their stunning aesthetic - each shop a little different, from Edison bulbs creating the perfect coffee shop atmosphere to macrame plants hanging from the ceiling.
UC SANTA CRUZ CAMPUS
Santa Cruz is full of redwoods, and you don't need to go to a state park to see them. UC Santa Cruz is one of the best underrated spots to find the redwoods - all around you'll find trails that loop through the Pogonip area. You might even stumble upon the hidden koi pond along the way! The campus itself is beautiful too, and if you aren't feeling redwoods, you can take a walk through the UCSC Arboretum.
SANTA CRUZ ROLLER PALLADIUM
Sometimes, you do things that are embarrassing for you. Sometimes, you do something cute because you know your wife will enjoy it. The Santa Cruz Roller Palladium is a fun escape to a different time (and its only $7 per person!) I took Lynn here because she is great at it and I am awful at it. After 30 minutes of skating around, I had almost sweat through an entire shirt from nervousness! But alas, these are the fun moments that make for memorable dates.
SANTA CRUZ WHARF
Admittedly, the wharf is not the most hidden/secret attraction in Santa Cruz, but just below all the tourist-y shops, at the end of the wharf is a truly unique sight. Hundreds of seals lay atop the rafter beams of the wharf, lounging, looking for food, and yelling at each other in short, adorable, yapping bursts. If you look just below them, you can see starfish sticking to the support beams of the wharf. So either drive to the end of the dock, or take a stroll through the misty shoreline and meet these amazing sea creatures and maybe even grab some clam chowder from one of the local spots while you are at it.
That will take you to the end of the day in Santa Cruz, but feel free to supplement it with any of the activities from the beginning of the post, some of our favorites are going berry picking at Gizdich Ranch (try the slushie apple juice too!) and picnicking at Lighthouse Field State Beach while cuddling friendly doggos.