Happy Friday! I'm hoping everyone has had a great four day week. I know I have now that I am in between jobs and have been enjoying summer like I used to before corporate America scooped me up. On Wednesday, the boyfriend and I took a day trip to my favorite Northern California beach town, Santa Cruz. I fell totally in love with this quaint town the moment I first visited about 6 months ago.
Santa Cruz is home to an idealistic California Beach City lifestyle. Folks here pride themselves on local culture and progressive vibes while still sustaining a classic 1970's feel. One of the first things you'll notice at the oceanfront and the boardwalk is that there are virtually no chains (thank God). Each restaurant and shop is locally owned and you will see a plethora of individually owned motels for you to crash in for the night.
The amusement park on the water in Santa Cruz has been operating since the early 1900's. Today, it continuously brings kids and adults alike to Santa Cruz' shoreline to experience a classic retro amusement park. I can only imagine the view from the top of this roller coaster!
While you are walking along the beach here, be sure to stop by at least one of the local surf shops to pick up a one of a kind tee shirt or skateboard as a souvenir.
The pier at Santa Cruz beach is unlike most of the one's I've encountered in California because there is such a huge variety of places to dine on the boardwalk. Also, you can actually drive up and park right on the pier which is a game changer. Here are a few of my favorite places to eat on the Santa Cruz pier:
1. Fire Fish - Daily fresh fish specials and a gorgeous, friendly staff. You can sit on the rail by the window and feel as if you are floating over the ocean or at the bar to grab a happy hour drink and an app. We had the seafood sampler for around $14 that had giant fried scallops along samples of fresh grilled fish.
2. Riva Fish House - The fish house has a similar view to Fire Fish but with a more laid-back atmosphere. The bar is wooden and the presentation is more casual. The crabcakes here are a must-try item. They also have some killer local beers on tap that are worth a try.
3. Dolphin - All the way at the end of the pier and the most casual of all three of these places, Dolphin is a little gem. You can sit outside on the patio or inside where you'll feel like you're at a diner. They have a seafood-driven menu and happy hour prices as well.
If you are taking HWY 17 to get into Santa Cruz, stop by one of the roadside pit stops on the way. This one, the Summit House Beer Garden has some seriously epic views and some quick food to grab on your way to or from the beach. We had a glass of wine and watched as the sun fell over the pacific and the redwood trees of Santa Cruz in the distance.
I just skimmed the surface of Santa Cruz. There's so much to do here! Have you guys been? Where should I go next time?
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