By: Sandra Givens
When I long for the smell of the sea and the sound of the eternal waves breaking on the shore, I head to Santa Cruz. It’s a quick flight from Phoenix and a short drive over the hill from San Jose to immerse yourself in a totally different environment. You can go from our dry desert landscape to the Pacific Ocean in a matter of hours.
One of my favorite walks is along West Cliff, a paved walk on the bluffs above the ocean where you can view dolphins and surfers enjoying the day. Take time to visit the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum and Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse. In the sea below is the world-famous “Steamer Lane” surfing destination.
After a walk along the cliff, I head to the Santa Cruz Wharf, constructed in 1914, and currently home to many restaurants and shops. Near the end of the wharf you’ll hear seals barking and see them resting on the trusses below the wharf. Also near the end of the wharf is my favorite restaurant, Stagnaro Brothers. This is the only restaurant with an upper level for both indoor and outdoor dining and fabulous views out to sea where sail boats glide by. Start your meal with their signature “Marine Mary” which is served complete with shrimp, olive, pepper, lemon & lime. Enjoy a cup or bowl of their famous Boston Clam Chowder or other fresh seafood. If you want fresh seafood to take with you, visit their seafood market on the wharf level. Family travelers might enjoy the nearby Santa Cruz Boardwalk and Amusement Park home to rides and events.
A short drive south and you’ll find yourself in the little town of Capitola, also home to many shops and restaurants many of whom are adjacent to the beach and ocean views.
A little further south you’ll find the hamlet called Aptos where the main street has many antique shops. Aptos is also home to Seacliff State Beach Park and the famous sinking cement ship.
So whether you want to get away for a weekend or a week, I find the Northern California coastal area around Santa Cruz vacation gold!
Photos: Sandra Givens
Author Bio: Sandra Givens is a travel writer who has been published in newspapers, magazines and a poetry anthology. She began her writing career in the health care field where she wrote news releases, brochures and newsletters for which she received the IABC Award for Excellence. As a volunteer, she wrote news releases and articles for East Valley Hospice in Arizona. A native Californian, Givens has traveled extensively and now lives in Arizona.
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