Looking for a locale that offers fun for the whole family and won’t break your budget? Santa Cruz is the place to go! This charming little ocean-front city offers a wide array of things to do and see while visiting. My family and I vacationed there in August, but unfortunately only had 24 hours to spend in this fabulous city. Despite the time constraint, I was determined to see as much of Santa Cruz as possible.

Upon arriving in Santa Cruz we checked into our wonderful hotel, the Me in front of the Santa Cruz HiltonHilton Santa Cruz, and then set off on our adventure. The first place on our list, with my ten-year-old little brother in tow, was of course the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The air was filled with excitement-the screams and laughter of children rang in our ears, scents of popcorn and cotton candy wafted to our noses, and the glorious image of the Giant Dipper-a hallmark of the West Coast’s oldest beachside amusement park-danced in front of our eyes and beckoned us to join in the fun.

My family and I with the Boardwalk behind usWith the sparkle of childhood in his eyes, my brother rushed off towards the boardwalk and in the swirl of that beautiful California summer afternoon I let go of my adulthood and let the adventurous fun-loving girl of my youth lead the way. We spent the afternoon breathing in the sea air, and taking in the beauty of the beach as we rode the rides of the Boardwalk evocative of a time of good ole fashioned family fun. We frolicked about in the water, chased one another on the beach, ate our fill of salt-water taffy and cotton candy, and as dusk began to fall, felt that blissful exhaustion after a day of fun.

We were famished after our day of fun in the sun so it was time to head for My beautiful dinner at The Crow's Nestdinner. Having heard that The Crow’s Nest offered a fantastic dining selection of fresh seafood along with a fabulous view of the harbor, we were all eager to get  there. We were not disappointed–the view of the harbor at night was absolutely stunning. As we looked out the window of the waterfront restaurant the sails of the boats swayed in the wind and the lighthouse lamp burned bright. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day. It only got better when the food came–calamari so tender it seemed to melt in your mouth, Alaskan salmon fresh and flavorful, and decadent chocolate cake for desert.

Downtown Santa CruzWe got an early start the next day and after a continental breakfast at the Hilton, we headed out for a couple more hours of fun in Santa Cruz. We strolled around the quaint downtown area and browsed in all the fabulous shops, art galleries, and bistros. There was something so laid-back and inviting about downtown Santa Cruz, something that made you sad to have to leave.

We found the most wonderful bookstore there, Bookshop Santa Cruz, and being the book-loving family that we are, there was something there for my grandma, brother, and myself. The best moment was when I found the luggage tag–Fly Girl–my TangoDiva profile name. It was the last one and I smiled thinking that it was meant for me and California was once again reassuring me that I really was meant to be there and would return one day.

After our fabulous 24-hour sojourn in Santa Cruz it was time to bid adieu to the original “Surf City”, but our wonderful memories of our stay traveled with us.

Me in front of Lighthouse PointThough my family experience only shows the delights of a day in Santa Cruz, the city holds many more treasures to explore. Santa Cruz boasts many tourist attractions such as Lighthouse Point, the surf museum and most famous surfing spot in Santa Cruz County. This is a definite point of interest for outdoor adventurers and historians alike. The Santa Cruz Wharf boasts a variety of gift shops, restaurants, and interactive marine life activities. For those with a passion for marine life, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center offers the world’s largest blue whale skeleton, touch tanks, an ocean discovery shop, and unsurpassed vistas. If you’re looking to discover more about California’s rich Spanish and Native American heritage then the Mission Santa Cruz is just the spot.


For more information on Santa Cruz County visit their Santa Cruz.