Hike through coastal redwoods in Santa Cruz, California.
  • Hike through coastal redwoods in Santa Cruz, California.
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A hidden gem along the Californian coast, Santa Cruz offers lush natural parks, eateries with local charm and the traditional boardwalk. It has a relaxed feel like most beach towns, and the locals prize natural food and sustainable living. In the summer, the weather is mild; temperatures hover in the 70s during the day and the 50s at night.

We recently spent a few days in Santa Cruz – here’s a three-day itinerary for the redwood and coast lover:

Day One

Grab a coffee from The Verve and spend the morning downtown at bookstores, shops, the movies and thrift shops. Later, lunch on hot sandwiches from Zoccoli's Deli ($5.50-6.75), which was still buzzing with locals at 2 p.m. on a weekday.

Cave in Wilder Ranch State Park

Cave in Wilder Ranch State Park

Then head to Wilder Ranch, and walk past a field of fragrant rosemary until you reach the cliffs. Climbing down to the inlets, venture into caves (left) with hanging moss and wild plants, where cool seawater drips down into subterranean pools.

For dinner, consider Sabieng Thai Cusine ($8.95-13.95), which cooks up delicious barbeque chicken, yellow curry and rice noodles with veggies. This restaurant is popular with UC Santa Cruz students.

Day Two

Breakfast at Walnut Avenue Café, where you can start off the morning with a hearty omelette, scramble or eggs benedict ($7.85-10.50).

Traverse Pogonip's enormous redwoods and view the historic limestone kilns, where lime was heated to burn off toxic chemicals in order to be made into mortar. Eight miles of trails provide plenty of hiking with friends and leashed dogs.

Grab lunch at Las Palmas and order their crispy chicken or shredded beef tacos piled high with grated cheese. Walk a few blocks down to the boardwalk, and spend the afternoon at the arcade, on the beach or riding roller coasters. Once the sun sets, dine on crab cakes, prawn ravioli or chargrilled ahi at The Crow's Nest ($15.95–28.95).

Day Three

Load up on fresh fruit, vegan sandwiches, and healthy snacks at one of the two New Leaf stores or Food Bin.

Then head out to Henry Cowell Redwood State Park and take the 4.7-mile loop through redwoods and chaparral. And if you haven't had enough of the redwoods, consider the steam train, a 1.5-hour ride through the woods.

For dinner, enjoy excellent Italian food at Lillian's Kitchen, ($8.95-14.95). Grab dessert at Marianne's Ice Cream, which has been around for 50 years and boasts over 70 flavors.

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Comments

nan shartel June 23, 2012 @ 1:29 a.m.

Santa Cruz is nice,,,but Capitola is even nicer

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they tried to be Venice and nearly made it

...and up hill to Boulder Creek where so many of the Hippies settled is a kick

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nan shartel June 25, 2012 @ 10:11 a.m.

it's a little doll town...and what about those stairs up to the residential area from the beach yikes!!!

stay in shape tho

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TMay June 23, 2012 @ 3:01 p.m.

I live in Santa Cruz, CA. It is a nice write-up. I just wanted to point out that because you come from San Diego, that you took the fabulous ocean views in Santa Cruz for granted, like the views you see when you take a walk on West Cliff Drive. We who live here love the temperate climate of Santa Cruz, CA, and the relaxed small town atmosphere.

Also, the name of the bookshop close to Zoccoli's Deli is "Bookshop Santa Cruz", one of the more famous independent bookshops in the US, which business survived the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, and onslaught by chains, Crown, and Borders, due to customer loyalty. Santa Cruz rebuilt itself after the 1989 earthquake.

You can also see views of Santa Cruz at this website http://www.adobeongreen.com/downtown.santa.cruz.east.html

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nan shartel June 24, 2012 @ 10:24 a.m.

Thx TMay 4 the links to the gorgeous pics of Santa Cruz...i had friends there many years ago that i visited occasionally...are u related to Sophie May a Pomeranian breeder in Santa Cruz many years ago?

My cousin Bill Hewett was the director of Voc Ed at Capitola Community College in Capitola ....and my daughter and i visited him often

the whole area there it just lovely

u live in a wonderful...and because of the rebuild after the earthquake ...inspirational town

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Javajoe25 June 23, 2012 @ 5:47 p.m.

So, Nan; were you once a "Cruzer"? Or, perhaps one of those Capitolian Hippies?

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nan shartel June 24, 2012 @ 10:29 a.m.

i had peeps there Joe....and i was a watcher of the hippee phenomena in San Francisco that's where i lived

i'm from the beatnik era...very intellectual u know...hahahahahahahahaha

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