Spending Summer Days In Santa Cruz? Some Tips & Favorite Places to Share

The Santa Cruz, CA, Lighthouse

Santa Cruz is just 30-60 minutes “over the hill” but in many ways is an entirely different world than Silicon Valley.  I spent a lot of time there while growing up in Santa Clara and Saratoga, mostly because my grandparents lived in Pasatiempo (a lovely neighborhood centered on a golf course) in Santa Cruz and later in retirement communities nearby.  Jim and I lived in Santa Cruz ourselves for three years when we were newly married.  [I taught first at Marello Prep in Santa Cruz (now closed) and later at Notre Dame High School in Salinas while living at the coast, in life before real estate.]

We have a lot of wonderful memories & experience with the Santa Cruz – Capitola – Aptos – Soquel area.  Today I wanted to share a few general tips and food tips for those who may be new to this part of California and spending some time by the coast.

Some general tips

  1. Weather: always, always have layers available as the shore is unpredictible.  It might be 100 in Willow Glen but cold and windy with the fog rolling in at the wharf.   The coastal communities have varying degrees of fog, sun and wind: microclimates are the norm.  If it’s sunny and toasty at the lighthouse, it may not be that way at Seacliff Beach. Don’t rely on webcams!
  2. Restrooms: know where the restrooms are before you visit.  The city of Santa Cruz has a list of public restrooms and a map online. It’s pretty awful if you spend a lot of time shopping on Pacific Avenue (downtown Santa Cruz), only to find no bathroom when you need one.  Your visit will be happier if you plan ahead!
  3. There’s more to do than just the beach: the coastal communities near Santa Cruz have loads going on with festivals, shows, musical productions and more.  Check out the online roster of events near the Monterey Bay.
  4. The Boardwalk has no admission fee and is a great place to people-watch and get tasty junk food, even if the rides don’t appeal to you.  In summer there are free music concerts on Friday nights (check the website for info) and on Monday & Tuesday evenings after 5pm they celelebrate 1907 nights: rides and hot dogs, cotton candy and most fountain drinks are just $1 each.   This is a bargain!
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