Santa Cruz: Day One

The weather in California has been unbelievable lately, but with rain forecasted for the coming weeks, I knew it was time for a mini getaway. I thought the travel bug would slowly work its way out of my system after my time in Europe, but no such luck. It’s still here and now I’ve set my sights on the US! This is slightly biased, of course, but everyone knows that California is the best state in the US: beaches, mountains, natural parks, desert; there is really something for everyone. Since I wasn’t aiming to spend a great deal of money on airfare, hotels, car rentals, etc., I opted for some place a bit closer to home: Santa Cruz!

I had a teacher that once described Santa Cruz as a ‘freakshow’. That’s probably pretty true, but try and take that in the best possible way. It’s a pretty unique place where people are really, truly individuals and where beach bums and university students coexist. We headed out fairly early in the morning and made it to Santa Cruz in a little under two and half hours. The drive was easy and the scenery was awesome (as usual). Since my return to the US, I have come to appreciate how beautiful the state really is:

After we arrived, we checked in at the Knight’s Inn, our little place near the beach. Now, if you leave it to me to book a hotel, I will almost invariably pick the cheapest hotel available provided the location is good and the place doesn’t seem dodgy. This time was no exception. Since we were just using our place to sleep, shower and get ready, I scored a deal at under $70 per night and our place was roughly two minutes walking from the Boardwalk. Now, I must admit, this place was far from five star, but the staff was friendly and the location was just right! For as long as I’m a traveler on a budget, this is the kind of place I’ll probably snag for short getaways. After we checked in, we made our way to the Boardwalk.

I’ve been to Santa Cruz on many occasions but have never spent time at the Boardwalk. How is that possible? I’m not entirely sure, but I managed to make it 24 years without playing skee ball and eating grossly overpriced popcorn. This time, things changed. With my grandma in tow, we hit up the arcade and played for hours, racking up an insane amount of tickets. (Grand total at the end of our trip: 1800 tickets!!)

After our time at the Boardwalk, we headed to our hotel for a bit to clean up and then made our way downtown to peruse the shops and grab dinner. It took me about twenty minutes of being downtown to decide that Santa Cruz is the place for my sister to move. She’s going to be transferring colleges shortly and I’m rooting 100% for UCSC. The town is fun and eclectic, just like her! We hit up two of my most favorite places: the Om Gallery and the World Market Bazaar. I am beyond obsessed with places like this and I was tempted on more than one occasion to spend money that I don’t have!

After shopping, we grabbed sushi at Shogun on Pacific Street. My grandma’s experiences with sushi are pretty limited so I thought it a perfect time to indoctrinate her into the world of Japanese cuisine! While she’s a bit handicapped when it comes to using chopsticks, watching her use those bad boys was pure entertainment. Hilarious! It took her about five minutes of massacring the rolls to finally ask the waitress for a fork and kid’s training chopsticks!

After dinner, we hit up the Artisans Gallery and grabbed late night froyo at Swirl before heading home. Such a fun-filled day. Check back tomorrow for more on day two in Santa Cruz! I’ll be petitioning for T. to head to UCSC for her last two years of college!

Lots of love,