For nearly a century, Santa Cruz has been synonymous with “beach and boardwalk,” as if this seaside city of 50,000 exists solely to sustain what is now the only major beachside amusement park left on the Pacific Coast. Considering that the annual number of boardwalk visitors is 62 times greater than the city’s population, it’s no surprise that Santa Cruz’s other highlights are all but ignored by the hordes of thrill-seekers who head straight for the waterfront each year.

Yet even without its celebrated amusement park, Santa Cruz would still be one of California’s top coastal destinations. Where else can you find a vibrant, cross-cultural (remember, this used to be the LSD capital of the world) college town perched on the edge of an immense bay teeming with marine life, ringed by miles of golden beaches, and backed by dense redwood forests?

Remove those boardwalk blinders for a day and you’ll find out that there’s a whole lot more to Santa Cruz than boardwalk cotton candy and arcades.

~ Matthew Poole

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  • Submitted On : 28 Jan 2015