A summer soccer road trip took us through one of the most beautiful parts of California! Up the central coast at the northern edge of Monterey Bay is a friendly beach town called Santa Cruz, vibrant from the mountains to the beach! We were excited to explore!
Located about 70 miles south of San Francisco and 40 miles north of Monterey with the Santa Cruz Mountains bordering the coastal city. Santa Cruz has a population of over 64,000 and a comfortable climate, usually in the mid 70’s during the summer. Winters are cooler with temperatures reaching only in the mid 50’s .
We were here to tour the campus of UC Santa Cruz. We found ourselves loving the area, so my daughter was anxious to visit UCSC to see if she would love the school, too! Of course, we threw in some fun while we were in town. I’ll share a few things we did in vibrant Santa Cruz!
UC Santa Cruz
UC Santa Cruz is located above town, deep in the redwoods with many miles of hiking and jogging trails throughout the campus. Is that really the first thing I mention about this university? Well, it’s the first thing we noticed and we were in awe!! The campus was sprawling amongst the trees!
UC Santa Cruz has over 16,000 undergraduates and 1,700 graduate students, which makes it a medium sized school. The majors that UCSC is known for are Social Sciences, Physics, Marine Biology, literature and many more. There’s also bioengineering, which is the major that my daughter is interested in.
UC Santa Cruz isn’t really known for sports, but there are some sports here, including soccer and that’s good news for my daughter! Their school mascot is the Banana Slug. They can be found on the redwood forest floor here. We didn’t see any, but it makes sense that it’s their mascot. So hysterical! My daughter loved this campus! Located at 1156 High St. Santa Cruz. Phone 831-459-0111
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Off to the boardwalk for fun and not just a boardwalk, but a major amusement park! It’s the oldest amusement park in California and one of the last remaining amusement parks at the beach on the west coast.
This family owned boardwalk has been open since 1907. It’s located on a mile long public beach in Santa Cruz. It was walking distance from where we were staying, so we didn’t have to deal with parking. There are 2 parking lots next to the park and off-site lots with shuttle service, so parking isn’t an issue, anyway.
The most popular ride at The Boardwalk is The Giant Dipper. It took 47 days to build this historic wooden rollercoaster at the of cost $50,000. The Giant Dipper opened on May 12,1924 and it cost only 15 cents to ride it. Today it costs 7 bucks! Yes it’s expensive, but worth the experience!!
Today there are more than 40 rides and attractions. There’s an arcade, miniature golf, a laser tag arena, 31 eateries and gift shops, too. There’s something for everyone, but leave your pets behind, because they’re not allowed on The Boardwalk. Be sure to walk on The Santa Cruz Pier nearby. It’s the longest pier on the west coast!
Admission is free to enter. You’ll pay for individual rides or purchase an all-day wristband, which is what my daughter did. She felt it was well worth it! Open everyday from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, weekends and holidays during fall and spring. The Boardwalk is definitely a must visit! Located at 400 Beach St. Santa Cruz. 831-423-5590.
Time for some adult fun and Santa Cruz offers plenty! Unfortunately, we didn’t have tons of time, but we always try to do wine tasting while visiting Santa Cruz. There are beautiful wineries in this area with exceptional wines from the Central California Mountains.
We visited a well known winery called Bargetto Winery. It’s located just north in the town of Soquel, located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Their wine tasting room is intimate and friendly. You can purchase wine, accessories and yummy goodies. There’s a big outdoor patio overlooking Bates Creek for picnicking, as well.
Bargetto Winery has been producing handcrafted award winning wines since 1933, specializing in estate grown varietals from their Regan Estate Vineyard located in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Bargetto is known for many types of wines including Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pino Grigio. What I ended up loving was their Italian Varietals. Bargetto nailed it with a wine called La Vita, a unique red blend of Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Refosco. Absolutely amazing wine! I highly recommend Bargetto Winery! Located at 3535 N. Main Street, Soquel 95073. Phone 831-475-2258
Lodging, Lounging, Dining!
Santa Cruz offers plenty of lodging, dining and boutique shopping. We had our dog, so we rented an Airbnb cottage, which was centrally located to everything. We walked to the beach, the boardwalk and to dinner at Akira Sushi. The sushi was superb! We also barbecued at our place and snacked on local goodies. The weather was ideal for strolling, outdoor dining and lounging! Akira Sushi is located at 1222 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz 95062 831-600-7093
Over all, Santa Cruz is a perfect place for a beach vacation! It’s not too touristy and not too crowded. We’re hoping to come back soon, because my daughter is interested in attending UC Santa Cruz. Oh and she’s even more interested in heading back to The Boardwalk!