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Old 01-02-2011, 11:41 AM   #1
CJMickeyMouse
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Santa Cruz, CA

DH and I will be attending a couple of college basketball games in Santa Cruz in late February. We will probably fly into San Jose, and hope to make it a vacation with a couple days before and after.

Neither of us has ever visited this area, so we are clueless as to our options for transportation, restaurants, activities, etc.

Can anyone help out a couple of tourists??
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:49 PM   #2
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In Santa Cruz, you can't miss the boardwalk. Also, in San Jose is The Winchester Mystery House. If you have time, it is not a far drive from Santa Cruz down to Monterey. The 17 Mile Drive is a not miss and the Aquarium is really nice. There are also some nice restaurants in the area.
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Old 01-02-2011, 12:54 PM   #3
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You will need to rent a car to get from San Jose to Santa Cruz and then to get around in general.
We really like the Best Western Sea Cliff Inn in Aptos which is a neighbor city just south of Santa Cruz. http://seacliffinn.com/ From San Jose with no traffic this hotel is approximatly an hour from the San Jose Airport.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the best in the world http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

Roaring Camp is great to see the RedWoods http://www.roaringcamp.com/
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:37 PM   #4
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Normaly, I would say head to the boardwalk, but your Feburary dates may make it a short half day trip. The attractions may not be running, check the boardwalk's web site will let you know if/when the rides are running. The adjasent warf would be a nice walk if weather permits.

The Montery Aquarium is very nice, but a bit on the pricey side IMO. Cannery row is a nice walk as well.

Roaring camp is fatastic if you're into trains, my DS(3) has a great time there and it's beautiful.
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Old 01-03-2011, 10:45 PM   #5
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Thank you to everyone who responded!

We were thinking maybe we could get by without a rental car, but from the posts it looks like we probably are better off with one.

I'll keep searching the internet for info!
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:29 PM   #6
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Besides the Boardwalk, you might enjoy a bit of shopping at Pacific Garden Mall. It's an open-air mall, along Pacific Ave. Be sure to hit Bookshop Santa Cruz while there. At the Boardwalk (or Pacific Garden Mall) pick up some salt water taffy at Marini's.

You might also enjoy a visit to the UCSC campus, on the hill above Santa Cruz. Great views up there.

Be sure to head up into the SC Mountains to both Henry Cowell Redwoods (about 9 miles from town) and Big Basin State Park (much deeper into the forest). Both will give you the chance to get amongst the CA Redwoods. Such beautiful, ancient trees. Henry Cowell also has a narrow gauge railroad you can ride in a loop through the forest. I prefer Big Basin, mostly because we used to camp there when I was a kid, but also because it's a true Redwood forest, deep in the mountains. You'll get a wonderful Redwood experience there.

For food in Santa Cruz, I always love eating at the Saturn Cafe. It's a vegetarian place, with really excellent food. I don't generally eat vegetarian, but this place is terrific. My favorite meal is the FLT (fakin' bacon, lettuce and tomato) with a cup of the soup of the day (no matter what it is) and a decaf Chai tea. Mmmmmm!

For dessert (or any time of day - I went for breakfast once) you MUST go to Marianne's Ice Cream on Ocean St, just after you come into town off Hwy 17. My favorite flavor is Alice B. Toklas Fudge Brownie. OMG!! Do not miss this place!!

I love, love, love Santa Cruz. Would live there, if I could just figure out a good way to make a living there. It's a terrific place and, in many ways, still very much a hippie town. If you enjoy the movie "Lost Boys", give it a watch before you go. It features the Boardwalk and you can see the locations while you're there. Always fun.
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:03 PM   #7
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Hello - I've lived in Santa Cruz for 30 years. Send me a message with any questions you have. There is a nice hotel on the beach called the Dream Inn (kind of pricey), definitely visit the Boardwalk (if you come on the weekend) and the wharf has great restaurants (Gilda's is our favorite - long time family seafood restaurant) and the Marini's candy shop. You will definitely need a rental car. Will you be visiting UCSC, Bethany, or Cabrillo College?
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magix View Post
Be sure to head up into the SC Mountains to both Henry Cowell Redwoods (about 9 miles from town) and Big Basin State Park (much deeper into the forest). Both will give you the chance to get amongst the CA Redwoods. Such beautiful, ancient trees. Henry Cowell also has a narrow gauge railroad you can ride in a loop through the forest. I prefer Big Basin, mostly because we used to camp there when I was a kid, but also because it's a true Redwood forest, deep in the mountains. You'll get a wonderful Redwood experience there.

I love, love, love Santa Cruz. Would live there, if I could just figure out a good way to make a living there. It's a terrific place and, in many ways, still very much a hippie town. If you enjoy the movie "Lost Boys", give it a watch before you go. It features the Boardwalk and you can see the locations while you're there. Always fun.
Same here, we camped there several times - I remember banana slugs!
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Old 01-06-2011, 09:30 PM   #9
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Thanks so much for all of the information! I need to get my notes together and PM some of you with further questions!

The team will be playing two games at UCSC. The one must do on our list is ziplining. We love the idea of the Redwoods, and the train, and the Boardwalk. I am not a seafood fan, but maybe DH can find one of the other parents who is!

Again, THANK YOU. Once I have a chance to review all of this I am sure I will have more questions for the experts!!
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:03 PM   #10
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Check out Mount Hermon Conference Center for ziplining - they have Canopy Tours and you're in the trees for about 2 hours! Mount Hermon is in the redwoods right across the road from the Roaring Camp train. Gilda's also has old time spaghetti/ravioli and burgers and steaks. What kind of food do you like - there's lots of great restaurants here.
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:31 PM   #11
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I like pretty much anything BUT seafood.... Pasta is great, Mexican, Italian, Burgers, Chicken..... Yep just no seafood.
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:51 PM   #12
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I can't imagine how you could get by without a vehicle.
My favorite restaurant is in Capitola (right next to Santa Cruz) it's called Shadowbrook, and has been around since 1947, the grounds are beautiful, the prime rib always good and I love the little fununcular ride.
http://www.shadowbrook-capitola.com/
I also suggest you consider driving North about 20 minutes on SR1 and taking a tour of the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo - it will be mating/end of birthing season in late Feb. and the tours are quite an experience - reserve ahead of time as there is huge demand.
http://www.parks.ca.gov/?_id=1111/
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Old 01-07-2011, 08:19 PM   #13
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Lots of taquerias here in Santa Cruz - if you're looking for something to eat after the game, Taqueria Vallarta is on Mission Street with great burritos, tacos, etc. Downtown has El Palomar Restaurant (mexican) and Cafe Mare (italian), and for breakfast Hoffman's or Walnut St Cafe. Even if you don't like seafood, Gilda's makes a good hamburger and other hot sandwichs/entrees and has yummy spaghetti/ravioli with old fashioned italian sauce. Okay, I guess you see I really love Gilda's! Not fancy, but good food and you can see the ocean and boardwalk as you dine. I'm getting hungry writing all this! Oh, Woodstock's Pizza downtown is great too! Shadowbrook is fancy, the place where kids go before prom type of place, but really nice; Crow's Nest at the harbor is fun too - with live music and great views. If you do go to Mount Hermon for ziplining, there is an italian restaurant right up the road in Felton called Mama Mia's. Both Mama Mia's and Gilda's have delicious Spumoni ice cream for dessert! Okay, I better get off now and figure which restaurant to visit this Friday evening - I'm hungry!
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Old 01-07-2011, 09:04 PM   #14
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WOW thanks again for all of the great info. I copied everything into a document and now I will organize it and try to ask some intelligent questions!

I believe the team is staying at the Hampton so that is probably where we will stay, at least for the nights they are in town.

I am beginning to think we need a couple of extra days to explore the area.
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Old 01-08-2011, 05:04 PM   #15
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Don't forget about the Mystery Spot, that's tons of fun and so weird and crazy.
Also, if you like pizza in downtown SC we ate at Pizza My Heart, OMG it was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good.
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