Santa Cruz, CA Mountains, Beaches, Make For a Never-Dull City

The beauty of Santa Cruz is that when you're deciding how to spend your weekend, you don't have to choose between the mountains or the beach.

On Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 16:13
Santa Cruz

The beauty of Santa Cruz is that when you’re deciding how to spend your weekend, you don’t have to choose between the mountains or the beach.

You can have your cake and eat it, too. The coastal town offers everything you could want in a beach getaway. Miles of coastline invite swimming, surfing and sunning. The Santa Cruz Wharf is a unique way to pass an afternoon. The shops are classic, the views are outstanding, and the seafood is as fresh as you’ll find it anywhere. For a beach-meets-carnival outing, stroll the century-old Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where the mini-golf, arcade games, bowling and junk food will make you feel like a kid again.

The boardwalk’s famous Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and Looff Carousel are both National Historic Landmarks. Away from the ocean but still in the water, the Santa Cruz Lake Recreation Area offers camping, picnicking, wading, fishing and hiking. The area’s 6-plus miles of trail includes La Caja, Laguna Vista and the Debris Basin Trail.

For more extensive hiking, visit the Santa Cruz Mountains. Beautiful paths that overlook Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean weave through the recreation area, which is also prime for wildlife watching. Santa Cruz is also an ideal jumping point for venturing into wine country. Many wineries are set back into the rugged hillsides, and thus less frequented. The outstanding wine and the peaceful solitude are worth the effort, though. Shopping is also a significant element of a journey through Santa Cruz wine country.

Even many of the tasting rooms have merchandise for sale. Finally, for the younger, more physically coordinated crowd, the Ken Wormhoudt Skate Park offers a 15,000-square-foot opportunity to practice ollies and kickflips along pipes, bowls, ledges and rails.