In 2009 I moved to the beach with $800. I shared a dingy room with a girl who only bathed with coconut oil and would have sex with foreign visitors while I was trying to sleep. BUT I LIVED AT THE BEACH. For three years I walked over train tracks in heels, brought my own beer to the boardwalk to play arcade games, and sang good music with good people in good places. In honor of my 30th birthday, I returned to my beloved beach trash city for a walkabout and more sober activities. While I refuse to give away all my spots, the following few should keep you busy for at least a whole weekend.
I don’t like to spend a lot of money, even if I have it. When planning a vacation, it’s always better to find a great place to walk around and see pretty things for free than to spend a lot of money on activities. We sprung for a room at the Chaminade Resort & Spa just a short jump away from beach-side Santa Cruz. Dinner & drinks at the hotel was our most expensive venture at eighty dollars but the hilltop ocean view made it all worthwhile. Since check-in on Saturday wasn’t until 4p, we drove in early and went adventuring before brunch at my favorite breakfast haunt, The Walnut Cafe. If you bring your dog to breakfast, ask for the doggie menu!
Natural Bridges State Beach is a great first stop in Santa Cruz. The beach is nestled at the end of West Cliff Drive, a slow winding road with cliff-side views good enough to welcome yourself to the Pacific Ocean in style. At the end of the road, the beach! You can pay to park up near picnic tables on the hill or park for free just before the entrance and give yourself some exercise. The only downside is that the beach doesn’t allow dogs but that’s what Mitchell’s Cove is for. Tidepools and a nice long beach full of dogs makes Mitchell’s Cove the best beach for everyone in my humble opinion.
Living a life of adventure isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, your battle to get a good picture of waves up close means there is sand and sea in your boots even though you were smart enough to wear rubber boots this time. Thankfully, I had $40 and thought ahead. We booked a tub at an excellent tea house that has saved my beach-cold life many times. A Well Within is nestled in downtown Santa Cruz, just a short walk from pizza-by-the-slice at The Catalyst and the rabbit-hole of book shopping that is Logos Books & Records. Each tub comes equipped with a shower, towels, hot tea, and ice water. I recommend the outdoor experience for that beachy breeze! An hour is more than enough time for R&R between activities.
In Santa Cruz, I always find myself taking a drive. When Seabright and West Cliff are too busy, California Highway 1 is arguably the best stretch of road for beach-view driving. The detour up Mission Boulevard from downtown Santa Cruz is worth the trek to Davenport. On Sunday we hiked around the cliff and GOT ENGAGED. Here’s to adventure & the future! Take my advice and stop for a second to enjoy the scenery. You won’t regret it.
Until next time!