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Santa Cruz CA
santa cruzSanta Cruz CA embraces sculpted surfers, aging hippies, free thinking students, and same sex couples. The atmosphere here is a fun loving but far from hedonistic, intellectual but nowhere near stuffy, This small city exudes fun whether you find it gobbling cotton candy on the Boardwalk or sipping wheat grass at poetry readings. Santa Cruz is on the northern tip of Monterey Bay 65 miles south of San Francisco. Through west Santa Cruz highway 1 becomes Mission Street. The University of California of Santa Cruz (UCSC) blankets the hills inland from Mission St, Southeast of Mission St, lies the coastline, The many shops, restaurants and clubs of downtown straddle Pacific Avenue. Many lots around downtown offer 3 hour free parking and day long parking can be found west of town along W. Cliff Drive about 10 minutes walk from the beach. Santa Cruz gets jam-packed in summer especially on weekends; room rates sky rocket and vacancies plummet. Always make reservations. Some recommended accommodations include Carmelita Cootage Santa Cruz Hostel, The Harbor Inn as well as Big Basin Redwoods State Park which is just twenty five miles north west of Santa Cruz. It is also California's oldest state park and home to 18000 acres of old growth and recovering redwood forest. The park also features great sites and breezy tails. santa cruzA few eateries can be found along the beachfront but downtown is home to the most reasonably priced restaurants, pizza joints, and coffee shops. Santa Cruz has a great beach but the water is frigid. It requires courage and sometimes a wet suit to take full advantage of the waves. Many casual beach-goers catch their thrills on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. First opened in 1907, the Boardwalk is now a three block strip of rides, guess your weight booths, shooting galleries, arcade games, and corn dog vendors. It's gloriously tacky throwback to 50s era beach culture. The traditional favorite is the Giant Dipper, the 1924 wooden roller coaster where Dirty Harry met his enemy in 1983's Sudden impact. The Santa Cruz Wharf off Beach St is the longest car accessible pier on the West Coast. Seafood restaurants and souvenir shops will try to distract you from expansive views of the ocean. The Santa Cruz Beach (Cowell Beach) is broad and reasonably clean, and packed with volleyball players. Novice surfers and families may refer semi-sheltered Cowell Cove, just west of the wharf and the more secluded beaches that line Highway 1. For nightlife, there are comprehensive event listings in the free Metro Santa Cruz and in Spotlight in Friday's Sentinel. The Boardwalk bandstands offers free summertime Friday concerts around 6:30 and 8:30pm.

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