What to do


Santa Cruz facing south toward Monterey Bay is considered coastal northern California’s banana belt with an annual average high of 68 degrees.  By contrast Monterey across the Bay is 63 and Half Moon Bay to the north is 62 degrees.  Within the borders of the City of Santa Cruz, the micro-climate of the Seabright enclave makes it the sunniest and warmest area.  And while there can be occasional fog during the summer months, the average high is 73-74 degrees.  When heat sets in other places, the fog often sits off the coast leaving Santa Cruz comfortable.  The same fog will often inundate San Francisco and Monterey for days.  For those wishing to escape the heat and humidity of summer, yet wishing to minimize coastal fog, wind and cold, Seabright is a perfect stay.  The winter high, on the other hand, averages 60 degrees, and of course with no risk of fog at all. 

There is a lot to do within walking distance of the house

Seabright Beach

 

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 Seabright Beach, sometimes called “Castle Beach” for the former “mansion” sitting at what is now the main entrance, is 100 steps from the our vacation rental house.  The beach stretches ˝ mile from Walton lighthouse, situated at the mouth of the breakwater entrance to the Yacht Harbor, to the San Lorenzo River mouth next to the Bordwalk.  During the winter months you can beachcomb driftwood.  During the summer months water wading, swimming and body surfing for the experienced, picnicking and volley ball are all possibilities.  During the peak summer months lifeguards in towers are stationed.  At night beach fire are permitted.  Bring the marshmallows.

 

Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor

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The Harbor is less than a ten minute stroll.  It berths over 800 sailboats and is flanked by 2 fine restaurants – Aldo’s on our side, and the Crow’s Nest by free water taxi during the high summer months.  Walton Lighthouse is accessible by a walkway along the harbor’s edge.  Bicycles and pedestrians can circle around the base of the harbor.  The harbor features kayak rentals, opportunities for deep sea fishing, sailing lessons and on Wednesday evenings sailboat races (viewable from our upper deck).

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

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A 15-20 minute walk finds you at the one the last great seaside amusement parks in the country.  The admission free Boardwalk is designed for thrill-seekers ages 5 to 95.  The 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster is considered one of the top 10 coasters in the U.S. The vintage Loof Carousel features a rare ring dispenser that riders can then toss into a clown’s gaping mouth.  The most current ride is the 125 foot tall Double Shot.  Every Friday night the Boardwalk features free summer concerts.  Check their website for concert schedule and other details.

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 Seabright Neighborhood
The Seabright neighborhood itself is an attraction.  Whether you’re gazing from the upper deck or strolling,  there are several points of interest.  This is a good and safe place to walk or ride a bycycle.  Go north along E. Cliff Dr., toward the San Lorenzo River to the “Point” where you can look across the river toward the Boardwalk, the Santa Cruz Wharf,  the Steamer Lane Museum Lighthouse, back toward Walton Lighthouse and Seabright beach.  Wander the neighborhood and you’ll see little late 19th and early 20th century summer cottages in various styles and unique contemporary bungalows.

The Museum of Natural History and Tyrell Park

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This small museum is just steps from the house, emphasizing exhibits of the native Ohlone natives, geology of the area – above and below the water, habitat dioramas, and touch pool. The museum is particularly oriented to children.  Click for further information about the Museum and Natural Things to Do in Santa Cruz. The museum is part of Tyrell Park, a long narrow park that is bordered by Pilkington St. to the west and Brook St. to the east. There are great peek views of the Walton Lighthouse, Seabright Beach and the Monterey Bay from many points in the park. In front of the Museum is a big as life replica of a gray whale. Children love clambering on and playing around the whale exhibit.

Lower Seabright Ave. Business District
Take a five minute stroll to the lower Seabright business district. There you will find a convenience grocrery store, bars, restaurants and a coffee shop.  Also have lunch or dinner at one of the local restaurants:
Aldos Harbor Restaurant 
Engfer Pizza Works 
Crow's Nest Restaurant 
Seabright Brewery
Linda’s Seabreeze Café 
La Posta 
Tramonti Pizza 
Betty Burgers 
Java Junction Coffee
Yacht Harbor Restaurants and businesses

Santa Cruz City Wharf 
The Santa Cruz Wharf is about a 1 mile walk from the house but the walk takes you through the Boardwalk on the way with the Santa Cruz Main Beach on your left.  It is lined with restaurants and shops. Built in 1914, the Wharf is a pretty place for a stroll and an up-close view of crabbers and bait fishermen. Enjoy shopping at the many stores and fresh fish markets and family owned restaurants. The Wharf is the place to go for seafood with a view.

Within A Short drive from the house

On the north end of West Cliff Drive, a scenic, five mile drive, is Natural

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Bridges State Beach, named after archways carved into the rock formations by ocean waves. The beach is popular with surfers, wind surfers, tide-pool trekkers, sunbathers, and fans of the 100,000 migrating monarch butterflies that roost in the nearby eucalyptus grove from late October through February.

Monterey Bay
Santa Cruz is located on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, one of the largest protected marine areas in the world. Visit the new Sanctuary Exploration Center located at the mouth of the Wharf. The Bay is home to 26 species

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of marine mammals, 96 species of seabirds, 345 species of fish, and 4 species of turtle. Watch otters, harbor seals and other sea life play in the waves as you walk the shoreline, or venture onto the Bay for a closer look. Check out an 87-foot blue whale skeleton, decorator crabs, eels and sea stars at the newly constructed Seymore Marine Discovery Center. In addition to the center's exhibit galleries and aquariums, you'll enjoy superb views of the Bay. If you're visiting between December and April, don't forget to watch the coastline for migrating whales. West Cliff Drive is a good viewing point for spotting pods of whales en route between their winter calving grounds in Mexico and summer feeding grounds off Alaska.

Roaring Camp Railroad

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Hop aboard a Roaring Camp locomotive at the Beach Boardwalk. The ride through an 1875 tunnel, a 1909 steel truss bridge, down the scenic San Lorenzo River Gorge and through Henry Cowell Redwood State Park leads you to the Roaring Camp trains which are authentic narrow-guage steam powered trains dating back to the 1890s. Walk over to see the giant redwoods in the Big Basin State Park, California's oldest State Park, established in 1902. This park is home to the largest continuous stand of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco.

West Cliff Drive
Walk along West Cliff Drive, a paved path that winds for three miles connecting Natural Bridges State Beach to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It offers great ocean views, sunsets and glimpses of surfers, dolphins, sea lions and whales. See two surf monuments: the bronze surfer statue at the Pelton steps, and the remodeled brick lighthouse that's now the Santa Cruz

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Surfing Museum which presents over 100 years of surfing history in Santa Cruz, starting with the arrival of two Hawaiian princes in 1885. Just off Lighthouse Point, see Seal Rock, a tiny island strewn with sea lions and seals. See the natural wonders of Lighthouse Field State Beach, a 40 acre park with unpaved trails, numerous birds -- including the rare Black Swift -- and an increasing number of wintering Monarch butterflies.

Surfing
Santa Cruz has long been considered a world class surfing location. Famous breaks like Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point, plus countless

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lesser known spots, ensure a vibrant and thriving surf scene. See a live cam at Steamer’s Lane one of the greatest surfing spots in the world. Because it is sheltered from most prevailing winds yet exposed to virtually all swells, the Lane is great in everything from 2' to 15'.  Steamer’s Lane is a long point break set off by the sandstone cliffs of Lighthouse Point.

Downtown
Downtown Santa Cruz is a “must see”. The Pacific Garden Mall is the cultural

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center of Santa Cruz. Students, tourists, local people, stroll along, drink coffee, shop and just hang out. The atmosphere is extremely peaceful and relaxed with many sidewalk coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants. People play music and sing. As an example on weekends, at the Bell Tower end of Pacific Avenue, near Jamba Juice cafe, representatives of local Brazilian and Portuguese-speaking population have dance contests. Several book stores and independent movie theaters add to the sophisticated atmosphere. Down the avenue, closer to the ocean, weird hippie stores offer weird stuff (t-shirts, for tourists). During the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, many buildings along Pacific Avenue were destroyed; now new buildings have replaced the destroyed ones and some of the un-built sites are covered with tasteful murals. Maple trees and benches line the extra-wide sidewalks. Major retailers like The Gap and Starbucks have settled in alongside surf shops, upscale boutiques, vintage clothing shops, antique stores, independent bookstores and a farmers' market featuring organically grown produce. A walking tour will take you past public murals, sculptures, art-deco inspired buildings, and over a dozen galleries featuring work by local artists. For more art, visit the downtown Museum of Art and History.

Wine
Visit the many boutique wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains, consistently recognized as a premium wine producing region. There are 65 wineries in the area, producing some superb pinot noirs, zinfandels, cabernets and estate-grown chardonays.

 

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