Published: September, 2018
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Santa Cruz, CA

Everyone has their favorites, but we like Seabright or 26th Avenue and Main Beach and Harbor for watching volleyball.
— Sarah Hart
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Family, Beach
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: A weekend is great!

to & from

Fly into SFO or San Jose Airport and drive an hour south. You will want a car so if you are flying in, rent a car.

Where to Stay

VRBO’s are always a good idea in Santa Cruz, especially if you can get one on/near the beach. If hotels are more your thing here are some favorites

The Dream Inn – Retro and on the Beach and pricey!

Paradox-New and Noteworthy

Chaminade– Monastery turned resort; in the Hills but a short drive to town.

Ocean Echo is a small and sweet cottage inn- steps away from the beach and perfect for families! While it’s a tad pricey it’s a great set-up for families and close to beach.

Where to Eat and Drink

  • Verve Coffee- High-end, hipster coffee (multiple locations)
  • Lillian’s-Old School Italian, very popular, fun with kids (Midtown)
  • West End-Tap Room (West side)
  • Shadowbrook-Unique, nice restaurant with a funicular that kids love, right above Capitola Village
  • Oswald-Farm to Table (downtown Santa Cruz)
  • Bantam-Great pizza (Westside)
  • Bagelry for Bagels (multiple locations)
  • Laili-Greek/Med- Never been but people love this place
  • Mobo Sushi (fun rolls, strip mall location)
  • Gayle’s- Very popular breakfast/lunch/bakery/to go or eat in casual food in Capitola)
  • The Penny Creamery– Unique flavors of ice cream (Downtown)
  • The Buttery (Eastside)
  • Kelly’s- Good for breakfast or lunch-in West End complex, Amazing pastries
  • Seabreeze Cafe for breakfast or lunch

What to Do

  • Boardwalk (with kids)
  • Mystery Spot- A vision illusion attraction since 1939!
  • Rent bikes or stroll on West Cliff Drive
  • Paddle Board/Sail in Habor
  • Surf! Beginners at Cowell's and watch experts at Steamer's Lane or Pleasure Point
  • Hike Fall Creek (longer hike) in Henry Cowell Park
  • Santa Cruz Natural History Museum (near Seabright Beach)
  • Seymour Marine Discovery Center (great for little ones)

inside scoop

Beach time… Everyone has their favorites, but we like Seabright or 26th Avenue and Main Beach and Harbor for watching volleyball.

What to Pack

Casual and layers.

Santa Cruz, CA - Suggestions from the Oliver Community

  • Cynthia Pillsbury Says

    My son’s soccer team is heading to Santa Cruz for the annual Fall tournament and we having a big team dinner at Zelda’s (on the beach in Capitola Village). Apparently it’s great for big groups and nice because kids can play on beach.

  • Courtney Leary Says

    In Aptos, close by, The Sparrow and Persephone have been recommended as great restaurants and Nisene Marks park for beautiful hiking.

  • Cynthia Pillsbury Says

    If you love a book store like I do don’t miss the Book Shop Santa Cruz (1520 Pacific Ave).

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