Santa Cruz has always seemed like a different world to me. Although it is only a 40 minute drive away from home, I don't get to visit too often. But boy are there sights to see!
During our brief day trip, Joey and I realized just how amazing and popular Santa Cruz is as a destination. The traffic to get to our first stop alone made me so anxious, I had to switch with Joey and make him drive (I'm not a fan of driving in the first place, so any minor inconvenience causes some major anxiety for me)!
It was about noon when we finally made it to the first stop on our itinerary, Cat & Cloud. Cat & Cloud is a super cool coffee shop with a total of 3 locations in the Santa Cruz area. Part of their mission is "to leave people feeling happier than they were before."
Upon arriving, the place was already busy and packed with what appeared to be regulars and their fur babies. The staff was beyond helpful when we explained this was our first time here (I've had some not-so-great experiences at coffee shops where they make you feel dumb for not knowing the menu or what to order). We decided on both ordering the Creamy Beige, which is perfectly described on the menu as being "like a milkshake, but with espresso."
The Cat & Cloud location we visited is actually their original location. And the space is super cute and definitely Instagram worthy (but again, it was pretty busy so we didn't get all the content we'd hoped)! We sat for about an hour, taking pictures, drinking our milkshake espresso, and petting Duke, an adorable dog that looked like a black lab mix of some kind.
There were local vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry to kettle popcorn to Santa Cruz merchandise, among so much more. There was also a stage where there were, what appeared to be, local musicians, performing. We spotted a crowd just to the side of the stage where there was a huge skate ramp and several skateboarders. We joined the crowd and watched them go from one side to another, some fell, some were mildly injured. It was crazy, but in the coolest way. It felt like we were experience the authentic side of Santa Cruz. Pleasure Point is the East Side of Santa Cruz after all.
Unfortunately, the traffic was so backed up, it took us almost an hour and a half to get only sort of close to the wharf. It then took us another half hour to find parking. Needless to say, it's important to get to the hot spots early to ensure parking and avoid wasting time in the car.
Although we had to walk for about 45 minutes from the car to the wharf, it was a beautiful view. We could see crowds of surfers gathered just far enough from shore that I was terrified for them! They were actually surfing right in front of the Dream Inn where the Jack O'Neill Restaurant is located. Some were surfing, some were gathered in what almost looked like a meeting. It was super cool. It reminded me of the skaters we had seen earlier and how authentic it was to the Santa Cruz spirit.
We finally arrived to the Santa Cruz Wharf where the Woodies on the Wharf event had just wrapped up. It was windy but so sweet to see the families gathered on the beaches enjoying the water and the sunshine.
By this time, we were pretty hungry, so we decided it would only be fitting to have lunch at the Woodies Cafe. I had been to this restaurant before, and so I knew I wanted an order of the fish & chips.
It was nice to sit after walking such a long way in the sunshine and wind (yes, it was both hot and cold. If you live in this part of California, you probably have an idea of what I mean).
The walk to the boardwalk was totally pleasant and romantic, to be honest. However, once we got to the boardwalk, it was EXTREMELY crowded! Like, Disneyland level crowded! It was nice to see the people on the crazy rides we are too chicken to get on, but again, it was really busy and so it felt like wherever we went, we were trapped by the crowds or in the way.
All in all, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk brings a lot of nostalgia. I used to visit when I was younger and then a handful of times now that I'm older. And every time, I have a blast. And this time, even though I didn't go on any rides, or eat any of the boardwalk foods, I had a wonderful time with my bae.
Although brief, our day trip to Santa Cruz was great! Like many other places we've visited this year, there are so many places we wish we could've visited but didn't have the time to. We could do at least 5 more day trip videos on Santa Cruz alone!
Thanks for reading!
-The B of V