After a few days of touring San Francisco (read about it in my last post), we took a short road trip to the California coast to stay in Santa Cruz with one of my college besties and her husband. They were the best hosts and showed us a wonderful weekend in the charming beach town. It was such a relaxing getaway and as a bonus, we found out that my friend was also pregnant! We spent much of the weekend chatting about our pregnancies and baby plans over delicious food or during coastal walks. If you’re looking for a weekend that consists of good food and time spent outside, here are some suggestions for how to do it!
Have brunch at Harbor Cafe. For over 50 years, Harbor Cafe has been a Santa Cruz favorite. It started out as a local hangout for sailors and fishermen and is now a social hot spot for people of all ages. Arrive early, as there is frequently a line to eat at the restaurant. Harbor Cafe is great for groups and is dog-friendly, so definitely sit outside if the weather permits. One of the star menu items is the Huevos Rancheros, though you can never go wrong with a breakfast burrito when in California!
Walk along West Cliff to Natural Bridges State Beach. Get outside and enjoy some sunshine as you hike along West Cliff Drive. You can walk from Bay Street to Natural Bridges State Beach, approximately 2.5 miles one-way. Along the way, you can admire the famous surfer statue, visit the Lighthouse Surf Museum, or stop for a picnic at one of the many park benches overlooking the ocean. There are public parking lots along the multi-use trail, so be sure to watch for dogs, cars, bikers, and skaters. There is a public restroom between the boardwalk and pier and the Surfing Museum. The trail is also wheelchair and stroller accessible.
Between 8 am and sunset, head to Natural Bridges State Beach for an excellent place to view shore birds, migrating whales, seals, and otters. Further along the beach, you can see tide pools, where low tides reveal sea stars, shore crabs, sea anemones, and other colorful ocean life. The park also includes an area of coastal scrub and grasslands where wildflowers bloom in the spring. You can find freshwater wetlands and a salt marsh where Moore Creek flows through the park. If you drive to the beach, there is a $10 vehicle day-use fee to park within the state beach lots.
Walk to surf central: Pleasure Point. For world-renowned surfing, or to watch the impressive surfers do their thing, walk around Pleasure Point. Famous surf icon Jack O’Neill lived here until he died and his home is a mecca for surfers. He historically let people use the property for surf access, gathering, and surf contests. If you’re not a surfer, start your day with breakfast burritos or an iced coffee at Point Market and Chill Out Cafe, then take a cliff walk or sit at the beach to enjoy the ocean views and surfers before having an afternoon beer at New Bohemia Brewing Company or a cone at Penny Ice Creamery.
Enjoy a draft beer at Humble Sea Brewery. The brewery, which is led by three best friends, has been serving craft beer in Santa Cruz since 2016. Not only is the beer selection delicious, but this brewery has some of the freshest branding – you’ll definitely want to go home with one of their tanks or tees. The inside and outdoor patio are equally cute and you’ll want to make a new friend from the hip Santa Cruz crowd. The brewery is open until 10 pm every night except Monday.
Eat wood fired pizza at Bantam. For a low-key, but still upscale dinner in Santa Cruz, visit Bantam, a great restaurant for groups in Santa Cruz’s Westside. The menu changes daily based on seasonal and regional availability, but dishes are always a contemporary twist on classic techniques. The wood-fired pizza can’t be beat and most of the other dishes are also great for sharing. Any of the pizzas can be made on farinata, a crust made out of chickpeas, rather than on typical dough.
Buy ingredients for a breakfast feast at the Live Oak Farmers’ Market in Eastside. As the website proclaims, “This is your Sunday destination.” The farmers’ market has been running weekly since 2000 and is in its eighth season as a year round market. We stocked up on goodies for an epic Sunday brunch including stone fruit, pastries, pasture-raised bacon, eggs, and more. The market also offers some made-to-order items if you don’t want to do the cooking yourself.
We hope to visit our friends in the adorable seaside town of Santa Cruz again one day. There is much more to explore, and next time, our babies can join the fun!