For someone who’s never been to California, the city of Santa Cruz is most likely what they imagine. Endless sunshine, miles of sandy coastline, surfers, hippies, old VW vans, legal weed, grungies and skateboard/street punks. More than any other Bay Area city or exurb, Santa Cruz embodies that classic California vibe – something like chilled-out surfer or stoned-out hippie – but mostly a contented attitude that comes when living within biking distance of the ocean is all that matters. It’s a beach town first, college town second, with blue-collar roots and hippie/yoga aspirations, the kind of place Cheech and Chong might retire to, or Jeff Spicoli would flunk out of if he ever got in.
Eventually you have to get out. As great as those Mission burritos, Philz coffeez, Giants games and Saturdays in Dolores Park are, too much concrete is bad for the soul. Fortunately this is the Bay Area, where you don’t have to drive two hours through suburban sprawl to get away. Continue reading The Bay Area’s best daytrips