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Santa Cruz for 3 days

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Los Angeles...
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Santa Cruz for 3 days

Visiting Santa Cruz for 3 days in beginning of June. I tend to be pretty flexible with things. I'm more an outdoor type that would rather take in fewer things for longer periods of time than rush around to see everything i can. However, it is nice to know more than i need to in case extra time pops up or I'm just not into something. Just FYI, Santa Cruz will be at the tail end of my 10 day camping trip up the coast from Los Angeles.

With that being said, here are my thoughts on an itinerary:

DAY ONE- Start out at Natural Bridges State Beach. Check out the beach, butterfly grove (although i know they probably won't be around that time of year), tide pools. From there I'd like to rent a bike somewhere or walk along West Cliff Drive stopping to see Steamer Lane and the Surfing Museum. Afterwards, head over to the Boardwalk and Wharf.

DAY TWO- UCSC Arboretum, Checking out the "Dead Central" exhibit at UCSC's McHenry Library and seeing their beautiful campus. If there's time, squeeze in a short hike at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park or someplace else (or start the morning with a hike and do the UCSC stuff afterwards).

DAY THREE- Spend the day at either Wilder Ranch State park or Big Basin State Park

Any and all advice and direction is appreciated. I have no concept of how much time each place takes to see and when things close/shut down for the day.

Thanks

Pacifica, California
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1. Re: Santa Cruz for 3 days

Three days in Santa Cruz and you're not going to the Bigfoot Museum??

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32377-d55…

After a visit, you'll probably be too scared to ever go camping again.

Santa Clara...
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2. Re: Santa Cruz for 3 days

Big Basin is pretty deep in the mountains. Plan plenty of time to travel to and fro. Portola State Park is slightly closer. Both are wonderful with many beautiful trails. Check out some of these hikes. I haven't even scratched the surface.

http://www.bahiker.com/southbay.html

How about driving down to Eklhorn Slough to kayak? Surfing lessons? Zipline?

Los Angeles...
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3. Re: Santa Cruz for 3 days

Chinita415,

Thanks for the link to the hikes. I'll have to look more closely at them to see what level hike I'm up for at the end of my trip. Any you've done that you really enjoyed?

Santa Clara...
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4. Re: Santa Cruz for 3 days

I pretty much go off her list. The ones in the area I did the past year are Tip Toe Falls at Portola, the waterfalls loop at Big Basin, and up to the observation deck at Henry Cowell. All took maybe 4 hrs at the most at a leisurely pace.

Not in the Santa Cruz Mountains but one I did a few weekends ago that was fun was the PG&E trail and loop around Wildcat and Coyote Canyons at Rancho San Antonio. It's easy to get to along 280 freeway.

I did a trip report for Natural Bridges a few months ago with photos. Should be somewhere in the SC forum.

Have fun and happy trails.

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Santa Cruz for 3 days

Wow, you have really done your homework.

I assume you have read the traveler article on Santa Cruz on this forum or have done research on your own because of your knowledge. If not, here is a copy of the traveler article.

http://tinyurl.com/cy7nl3c

Comments on your plans....

DAY ONE. Rent your bicycle near the Boardwalk....here

yellowpages.com/santa-cruz-ca/…

There is a map. Then cycle on West Cliff Drive to Natural Bridges and back, stopping by Steamer Lane and then doing the Boardwalk afterwards. Even though it is not the season for Monarch Butterflies which over-winter here, stop by the Visitor Center at Natural Bridges and look at the information about the migration. It is fascinating. A tide table may help you decide when to hit Natural bridges for the tide pools, if they happen to be copascetic (sp?) for your visit.

DAY TWO. Parking on the UCSC campus is limited for the public. There are metered lots, but mostly permit lots. (the 2,000 acre campus does not like cars, much as it has to put up with them :~)

To visit the McHenry library I like to walk from the parking lot at the book store, which is near Cowell College, on the path through the trees, but I do not remember how much of the lot there is metered and how much is permit. (We are retired faculty and have permits, so I am almost clueless on that.)

For the library, the least hassle may be to take a bus from the Metro Center on lower Pacific Avenue, downtown, to the campus to the book store. Buses run frequently. You may also be able to get a city bus to the Arboretum, which is on Empire Grade Road on the west side of campus, but you would need to check on that.

Do not miss the views of the Monterrey Bay from up here.

Wilder Ranch is a great idea....it is under-rated. Besides the historical buildings it has trails to the bluffs and also in the other direction up into the hills. If you have not, I suggest you look at that website.

Big Basin. Is beautiful. There is no way I would substitute Portola State Park for Big Basin. Portola has redwoods, but not the ancient ones. Big Basin was the first State Park in California at the turn of the century.. Logistically, it is 13 miles up Hwy 9 from the intersection of Hwy 1 and Hwy 9 in Santa Cruz. then there is a very twisty 17 mile loop which puts you 8 miles north of the south entrance before you return to Santa Cruz..

You can also hike from up there all the way to the ocean.

Henry Cowell is only 8 miles up Hwy 9 and has a 1 miles interpretive trail.....But the park also includes non-redwood acreage, Fall Creek, which is challenging hiking. I suggest you look at that website, as well.

Are you camping in the area? Do you have reservations at one of the state park campgrounds?

I hope this has been helpful for you. Let me know if you want clarification or more information.

It sounds to me as if you have planned a winderful trip. (But I think you would be very happy with MORE than three days in the Santa Cruz area, given your interests.)

Cheers.....and have a great trip.

Edited: 12:58 am, April 01, 2014
Los Angeles...
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6. Re: Santa Cruz for 3 days

Puter,

Thank you so much for your advice and guidance. Unfortunately I am unsure when or if I will be able to take this trip up the coast (due to reasons that are unimportant to state here). Nonetheless, I am planning it as if it will come to fruition.

Due to time restriction I'm doing 3 days in Big Sur, 3 days in Monterey/Carmel and 3 days in Santa Cruz. The truth is that this is all a temporary plan. If one place doesn't really "turn me on", I'll move forward and spend more time in the next destination. I am currently "researching" Santa Cruz and will move on to the next destinations shortly. I like to use my time efficiently and, at the same time, take my time in each place.

As far as camping goes, I unfortunately cannot book anything at this time due to my situation. I understand this is not the optimal situation to be in, but it is my reality.

I'm really trying my best to avoid major crowds. So I was thinking either end of May or September. Do you have any insight on this?

Thanks so much

Santa Cruz...
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7. Re: Santa Cruz for 3 days

I understand. It is good to have a well-formed plan for when you are able to make the trip. May or September would work for avoiding crowds, but September is often our best weather of the year.

As you probably know, we have several State Parks in the area for camping, but reservations often need to be made quite far in advance. There is a nice hostel or two here, however. Look at Carmelita Cottages, for example.

Good luck and come back if and when you want more information.

Los Angeles...
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8. Re: Santa Cruz for 3 days

I can't believe my trip is upon me. Slightly nervous and excited as I go on my solo 9-day journey through Big Sur, Monterey and Santa Cruz. It seems my "must see" things are Natural Bridges State Beach, West Cliff Drive, Steamers Lane/Surfing Museum, UCSC Arboretum and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. I have many more things on my "penciled in" itinerary but will have to judge the time accordingly. All set for three nights at Henry Cowell Redwoods SP starting next Friday night (6/6).

Any last minute advice on places to eat (modest budget but willing to spend money on a good meal here and there), etc.?

Santa Cruz...
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9. Re: Santa Cruz for 3 days

Places to eat.

In Santa Cruz, the main Street, Pacific Avenue is full of restaurants, of all prices, most with sidewalk seating as well as inside. Menus are posted outside. There is everything from pizza to burgers to Indian to Japanese to comfort to fancy to Mexican to deli (not take out deli) For the latter, voted the best deli in Santa Cruz by a local paper is Zoccalli's at the head of Pacific Avenue near the town clock. You order at the counter. GREAT sandwiches...pastrami with sauercrout, BLT, combinations of meat and cheese, etc.etc. You order from the sign on the wall, they make it fresh. No indoor seating, but lots of sidewalk tables.

Across the street is Lulu's, which is really a coffee house, but they have a counter of great food...salads, soups, casserole-type things, etc. Down the street, near the other end, look at Pizza My Heart on the left. Watch for the side street, Walnut, on the right and look at the Walnut Cafe. Next door is "99 Bottles of Beer", which makes huge hamburgers.

Further down, on the left. Kianti's Pizza and Pasta.

OH. you might light Rosie McCann's Irish Pub. It is upstairs from the street. The pub is in the back, the restaurant in the front, both separated by the bar. This is the comfort food place. I have not experienced the pub in the back, but they seem to be having a great time.

Walk the street and decide.

Please report back about your Santa Cruz experience, would you? It helps me to advise other travelers. And have a great time.

10. Re: Santa Cruz for 3 days

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