Road Trip to Santa Cruz
For my birthday weekend this year we took a road trip to Santa Cruz. Growing up in the Bay Area I spent many Summer afternoons wondering the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with my friends and family. Since we hadn't taken my oldest daughter in a few years we decided that would be a good destination for a family trip! Plus the beach is my happy place, and I promised myself that for my remaining years on this planet I would always go to the beach for my birthday.
So off we went! Lodging in Santa Cruz was tricky and pricey! It was almost the same amount to rent out a house as to stay in a not so luxurious hotel, so we opted for the first choice with more room, the ability to cook our own meals, and the option to bring more family members.
I always thought Santa Cruz was a few hours away, or maybe that's what it seemed like in my teenage mind when I wasn't the one driving. But in reality it took us only a little over an hour to get there. Granted we left around 8 in the evening but it was nice not to be stuck in traffic!
On Saturday we visited the Beach Boardwalk and had a so much fun! (Tip: Always opt for wristbands as opposed to tickets at places like this, the tickets do not get you far and you will probably find yourself reloading more than the wristband would have cost in the first place- trust me- I know.)
I'm still a big kid at heart so I jumped on as many rides with my older daughter and her auntie as I could. One roller coaster named "Undertow" was a spinning roller coaster with so many twists and turns. We literally looked like we were going to fall off of the tracks! It was really scary for me, but so fun! We were laughing and screaming the whole way! For little kids there is the merry-go-round, an airplane ride, boat ride, and the good old Dinosaur train. Me and my older daughter's favorite ride was a high flying hang glider ride that circled over the beach and the boardwalk- it really feels like you are flying as you lay on your stomach and glide through the air- it was soooo fun! We also had our fill of fatty foods- I love the pineapple whip (tasty vegan sweet treat). Of course we had to spend some time at the beach too. It is a joy to watch all the children running around having fun in the waves on the beach.
On Sunday we got up early and ventured off for a hike in the redwoods- neighboring Felton is home to giant redwoods. We hiked what is called the loop trail at Henry Cowell State park. (Tip: parking is $10 but you can use the pass at any state park for the rest of the day). The loop trail is less than a mile and perfect for little walkers. It is mainly flat and you are welcomed to bring a stroller with you if need be. The trees are gigantic, the atmosphere is serene and peaceful, and the trail is easy enough that even if your family isn't in love with hiking they won't mind the walk! My older daughter was climbing in and on every tree and stump she could. My youngest daughter just wanted to get out the stroller and run. And my husband who is not a fan of hiking didn't do one drop of complaining and told me he enjoyed it afterwards. There is a trail guide telling you what trees are which (they are numbered). Number 7 is the tallest tree in the park. We were also fortunate enough to run in to some deer eating off the path. We saw 7 in all, and they didn't mind us stopping to quietly watch them and take pictures (although my baby started barking at them, then it was time to move on).
For lunch we stopped by a sweet family owned restaurant called the Aloha Island Grill and had so very yummy Hawaiian food- I highly recommend this spot! I found plenty of vegan options and everyone else really enjoyed their chicken. It was also very inexpensive and had a very chill atmosphere.
Last stop on our trip was Pleasure Point Beach. Out of the way of the Boardwalk so way less crowded than that beach. The Beach was warm and welcoming (luckily the sun came out, sometimes it is very overcast). My oldest daughter immediately made friends with another little boy about her age and they were off searching the waves for drifting seaweed. We made sand castles with my youngest daughter. Our baby had no fear of the water and was trying to walk right in to the ocean. She giggled with excitement every time the surf caught her. To me there is no better feeling than being on the beach with your family, watching the sun glistening on the water, watching your children run in and out of the waves, all while feeling the sand between your toes, and smelling the fresh sea air. The beach is my happy place and I was so glad to end our weekend on this note =-)
**To see more detailed information about these places check the "Beyond The Bay" tab and scroll to Santa Cruz.