Santa Cruz Inn

 

 

Sea Kelp

Strands of kelp on the beach.

 

 

 

 

West Cliff Drive Beach

The beach along West Cliff Drive.

 

 

 

 

Tall Redwood Grove

Henry Cowell Redwood State Park.

 

 

 

 

Santa Cruz Boardwalk Ride

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victorian barn door at wilder Ranch, Santa Cruz, CA

Victorian barn at Wilder Ranch.

 

 

 

 

Surfer at Steamer Lane

Surfing the Lane off West Cliff Drive.

 

 

 

 

Abbott Lighthouse

Abbott Lighthouse on West Cliff Drive.

 

 

 

 

Twin Lakes Beach in winter

Quiet beaches in the winter months.

 

 

 

 

Santa Cruz Harbor Jetty

The jetty at the Santa Cruz Harbor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Cruz Outdoor Activities.

Things to do When you Stay at the Adobe.

Take a Walk on West Cliff Drive. If you have just one day in Santa Cruz and you want to experience the Pacific Ocean and clear your head without getting sandy or wet this is the place for you. West Cliff starts on the hill just above the Santa Cruz Wharf and runs for 2 miles along the ocean to Natural Bridges State Park. This urban promenade is the most scenic and accessible coastline walk in the city. The paved path along West Cliff passes the Chuck Abbott lighthouse, Steamer Lane surf break, and miles of the best bluffs and beaches Santa Cruz can offer. There is also great people watching along this popular route. Whether you are walking, jogging, cycling, skating or just daydreaming, West Cliff Drive is not to be missed.

Santa Cruz Food Tour. Want to learn about local history, architecture, culture and the historic neighborhoods? Let these folks take you on a food tour. Visit five different tasting locations on this 3.5 hour guided walking tour.

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. If you've never stood below a 250 foot high redwood tree it's time you gave it a try. This fabulous grove of old-growth Coast Redwoods was saved by tourism in the late 1800's. It was simply more profitable to charge admission to see these giants than to cut them down. Today, the grove of ancient trees is a towering cathedral showing off nature's tallest creations. The one-mile loop through the grove is perhaps the most magical and inspiring short walk on the central coast. A must see. 101 North Big Trees Park Rd. (off highway 9) Felton. 831-335-7077

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the last seaside amusement park on the west coast of North America. For over a century the Boardwalk and former casino has been drawing crowds . The half-mile long amusement park features 35 rides including the 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and the 1911 Looff carousel, both on the National Register of Historic Places. The former casino is now an arcade with 300 coin-operated games and laser tag. Marini's Candy Company just outside the Casino Arcade has been making saltwater taffy in that location for over half a century. If you're fortunate you can see the taffy-pulling machine at work. In the early 1900's the Boardwalk featured a giant indoor saltwater swimming pool called The Plunge. Today the old Plunge building is Neptune's Kingdom, an indoor arcade with 18 hole miniature golf, fosse ball, pool tables, air-hockey, and pinball games. Free admission and a beautiful beach side setting make the Boardwalk the 10 th most visited attraction in the U.S. Open daily Memorial Day – Labor Day and on fair weather weekends in spring and fall. Neptune's Kingdom and Arcade open year round. 400 Beach St. 831-423-5590

Santa Cruz Wharf. Drive or walk out on the Santa Cruz Wharf for great views of West Cliff Drive and the Boardwalk. The Wharf is home to restaurants and shops that cater mostly to tourists. Locals tend to eat at Riva, a relaxed restaurant and bar with view tables featuring California cuisine and seafood. They also have great frozen gelato for dessert. Be advised, Riva's doesn't accept credit cards. At the end of the wharf you'll find two holes in the decking where you can look below to the pilings. If you're lucky, you'll see slumbering sea lions. These popular and noisy mammals flock to the wharf to feed and catch up on their rest.

Pasatiempo Golf Course. A Beautiful historic course designed by Alister MacKenzie. This challenging course is ranked one of the 100 top golf courses in the country. It's also only an hour from Pebble Beach. Just 3 miles from the Adobe off Hiway 17. 831-459-9155

Bamboo Giant Nursery. This 31 acre nursery specializes in common and exotic species of bamboo. Visitors walk along pathways and read signs describing the displays. Open Monday – Friday 9-5 and Saturday and Sunday 10-5. Take Hiway 1 south from Santa Cruz past Aptos and exit at Freedom Blvd. Turn left over the freeway to 5601 Freedom Blvd. Bamboo Giant is on the right side of the road. (831) 687-0100.

UC Santa Cruz. A college campus may not be everyone's idea of a vacation destination, but this campus is more like a Park in a redwood forest than a university. Built high on a hill overlooking the Monterey Bay, UCSC holds some of the best views in the area. A favorite spot of ours is the view from the athletic fields on the east side of campus. To reach the fields, head up the main campus entrance at Bay and High Streets. Turn left at the second stoplight (Hagar Dr.). Climb the hill and pull into the parking lot at the East Field House on the right. Find a metered parking space and head downhill at the left end of the parking lot. Walk past the pool and locker rooms on your right and out to the big grass field straight ahead. When you reach the field, strike out at a 45-degree angle to the right to the far end of the field. There you'll find a bench with terrific views over the city to the Monterey Bay. This is a great spot for a picnic lunch.


UC Santa Cruz Arboretum is an easy and accessible opportunity to mingle with some of the world's botanical biodiversity. The UCSC Arboretum is a lovely place to walk through gardens and experience the flora of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and native California. Located on an ancient marine terrace, there are views here out to the Monterey Bay. Admission is free and they are open 9-5 year round (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas). Gift shop and plant outlet closed on Mondays. Take Mission Street north. Right on Bay Street. Left on High Street. The Arboretum is on the right. 1156 High Street. (831) 427-2998.


Wilder Ranch. Two miles north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1 is a Victorian-era dairy farm on the coast that once belonged to the Wilder Family. This was the first Rancho that supplied the Santa Cruz Mission. Today, Wilder Ranch State Park provides us with wonderful short hikes along the ocean, great mountain bike and hiking trails into the redwood forest, and historic farm tours. With over 6,000 acres of coastal terrace, meadows, and forests to explore, the park offers some of the best hiking and jogging trails on the central coast. If you're looking for a romantic little sandy cove to sit on and watch the waves, Wilder Ranch is the place. To reach Wilder Ranch head north on Mission St. Mission St. turns into Hiway 1. Wilder will be on the left a couple miles out of town. (831)426-0505.

Ano Nuevo State Reserve is 23 miles north of Santa Cruz on Hiway 1 and is the world's largest breeding colony of northern elephant seals. The male seals are a spectacle, weighing as much as 4,000 lbs. These unusual animals can be viewed year round with guided walk reservations required during breeding season (December to March). Open 8am to sunset daily. This is a remote part of the central coast so bring a picnic lunch with you or drive 11 miles north after your tour to the tiny town of Pescadero for a visit to Duarte's Tavern. Duarte's (recipient of a James Beard award) serves their house special cream of artichoke soup and other fine foods daily. Ano Nuevo State Reserve: Reservations: (800) 444-4445 General info: (650) 879-0227.
Duarte's Tavern: 202 Stage Rd. in Pescadero (650) 879-0464.

Gidzich Ranch Apples, Pies, and Berries. Twenty minutes south of Santa Cruz is the agricultural city of Watsonville. This region is known for its fine apples (Martinelli's Sparkling Cider is made here) and bush berries. Gidzich Ranch is a 4th generation family farm with U-pick orchards of berries (May – August) and apples (September – October). All year round they sell 12 varieties of apples and apple pies. The family presses apple juice every Saturday for sale during the week. The fresh-pressed juice is heavenly. 55 Peckham Rd. in Watsonville. (831) 722-1056.

Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab. This working marine laboratory is a division of U.C. Santa Cruz and features touch-tank exhibits, displays, and aquariums. You can look in on marine mammal research at an overlook above the dolphin and sea lion tanks. Guided tours at 1,2 & 3p.m. Discovery center and gift shop open Tuesday – Saturday: 10-5 and Sunday: 12–5. Don't miss the 87 foot long blue whale skeleton, the largest on display anywhere. Head north on Mission St. and go left on Swift Street. Right on Delaware to the end. The lab entrance is at the end of Delaware St. A nice detour when you're on Swift St. is to turn left into the Swift Street Commons, and old Brussels sprout packing plant that is now the home to Kelly's French Bakery, SFB Silks, wine tasting, organic beer tasting and a nice little courtyard with jazz on the weekends. Next door is the beautiful murals on the Bonny Doon Winery building. Can you find the escapee? 100 Shaffer Rd. (831) 459-3800.

Sea Kayaking. Year round ocean kayak rentals and tours are available in Santa Cruz. Both rentals and tours include all necessary equipment and instruction. Kayak off the Santa Cruz Wharf or out of the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. Two and three hour tours available. Yacht Harbor: Kayak Connection (831) 479-1121. Municipal Wharf: Venture Quest (831) 427-2267.

Bicycling. One of the best bike rides in Santa Cruz is West Cliff Drive. Fortunately, a few blocks from West Cliff sits Electric Sierra Cycles, a little shop that rents all kinds of bikes and electric scooters. You can find them at 302 Pacific Avenue near the beach and Wharf. Rent a bike and cruise the two miles down West Cliff drive to Natural Bridges State park or the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. (831) 425-1593.

Whale Watching. Abundant food sources in the Monterey Bay make the waters Santa Cruz a prime marine mammal watching area. Tour boats leave from the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, the Santa Cruz Wharf, and Moss Landing (35 minutes south of Santa Cruz). Whales migrate up or down the California coast virtually all year long. Tour operators also spot dolphins and porpoises as well as sea otters. The best whale spotting grounds are slightly north of Santa Cruz offshore from Davenport. The Chardonnay II is a 70' sailboat that offers whale watching sails January – March and July & August.

At the Wharf: Stagnaro's (831) 427-2334. Shamrock Charter (831) 476-2648.

At the Yacht Harbor: Chardonnay II (831) 423-1213. Santa Cruz Sportfishing (831) 426-4690.

Moss Landing Harbor: Sanctuary Cruises (831)643-0128. Park Place Excursions (831) 479-0273.


The Ocean. Santa Cruz sits at the edge of an enormous wilderness area, the Pacific Ocean. Actually, Santa Cruz is at the top of a large bay: the Monterey Bay. When you look out to sea in Santa Cruz, you are actually looking south, not west. There are literally hundreds of places in Santa Cruz County to access the ocean. The closest access is at the main beach and wharf. To get there on foot from the Adobe (1.2 miles) head down Green Street and right on Chestnut Street. Left on Union Street and at the end of Union go through Plaza Lane. Turn right on Pacific and follow it until crosses Laurel and merges with Front St. at a stop sign next to a car dealership. Stay to the right and at the Depot Park turn left and go two blocks to the wharf. The Main Beach is on the left of the wharf, Cowell's Beach is on the right. Turning right just before the wharf takes you up a hill and bearing left puts you onto West Cliff Drive, a two mile drive with several beaches and scenic bluffs to explore. On the left side of West Cliff Drive is Lighthouse Point. On the rocky point outside the lighthouse is Steamer Lane, a great place to watch local surfers. Inside the lighthouse building is the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum with over 100 years of surf history. The museum is open noon to 4, Thursday through Monday.

Surfing Lessons. Santa Cruz is called “Surf City.” If you want to try the local sport you don't have to fend for yourself. We have two surf schools that operate all summer and on fair-weathered weekends. Club Ed specializes in group and private lessons on Cowell's beach, next to the Santa Cruz Wharf. Richard Schmidt runs popular 5 day summer camps and private lessons the rest of the year. Both schools will outfit you with wetsuit and board and take through the process step-by-step so you can ride some waves before you head back home. Club Ed Surf School (831) 287-7873. Richard Schmidt Surf School (831) 423-0928.

Sailing on Monterey Bay. The Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor is home to several charter sailing fleets that will take you out for a cruise on the Monterey Bay. Sailing on the bay will afford you the opportunity to view seals, sea lions, otters, pelicans, and whales. Some of these charter companies will also let you take out a sailboat yourself if you have the necessary sailing experience. The Chardonnay II is a popular 70' sailing yacht that specializes in themed sailing excursions like sunset sails, winemaker cruises, brewmaster sails, astronomy nighttime sails, and reduced-fare Thursday sunset cruises where guests bring their own refreshments. Every Wednesday night the Chardonnay takes part in the Wednesday night regattas, a fast paced sail with pizza and soft drinks. Chardonnay II (831) 423-1213. Pacific Yachting (831) 423-7245. Lighthall Yacht Charters (831) 429-1970.

Monarch Butterflies. October – February thousands of beautiful Monarch butterflies winter at Natural bridges State Park in a grove of eucalyptus trees just off the beach. Their migration back to jungles in South America begins in February. Some years the trees are dripping with tens of thousands of the orange and black butterflies. To reach Natural Bridges State Park, travel to the north end of West Cliff Drive. For an adventure, rent a bike at Electric Sierra Cycles by the Wharf and ride along west Cliff two miles to Natural Bridges. Natural Bridges State Park 2531 West Cliff Dr. (831) 423-4609

The Mystery Spot roadside attraction claims to be located in a special spot where the laws of gravity are suspended. This is why a ball appears to roll uphill and a person appears to be leaning impossibly out into space. Could the crooked buildings and wacky angles have something to do with these unusual events? Judge for yourself every day. Located just off Branciforte Drive; the old highway between San Jose and Santa Cruz. We think the real mystery is how this “oddity of nature” just happens to be a few hundred yards off of the historic tourist route to the beach. 465 Mystery Spot Rd. (off Branciforte Dr.) 831-423-8897.

Capitola Village is four miles south of Santa Cruz. Built right on a sandy beach, this is the oldest planned vacation community on the Pacific coast. It was designed as a tent village getaway in 1870. Since that time it has grown into a charming and picturesque town that attracts visitors year round. The village is small and can be walked in less than an hour. In the winter months this town can be almost deserted and the sheer beauty of the quiet village on the sand can be very captivating. In the summer, you won't be alone and the allure is not as great. In the village you will find shops, galleries, clubs and restaurants that primarily cater to tourists. In the summer there are free concerts on the beach, an annual art and wine festival and a begonia festival. The best dining can be found at The Paradise Beach Café, right on the sandy beach and at Caruso's, an authentic Tuscan café. If you do head to Capitola stop in at Gayles Bakery, a treat for the palette and the eyes at 504 Bay Avenue. Take Hiway 1 south from Santa Cruz to the Bay Avenue/Porter Street exit. Right at the stop light onto Bay Avenue. At the second stop sign turn right and in a few blocks you'll reach the Village. Parking can be tricky in the summer. (831) 475-6522.

   

103 Green Street, Santa Cruz, California 95060 :: Phone: (831) 469-9866
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