Santa Cruz’in: Why It’s A Classic San Franciscan’s Getaway

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Mementos from a great weekend down the coast.

Thank you – Sarah Herzer

The classic San Franciscan’s getaway; Saturday morning, hot cup of coffee in one hand, leather steering wheel in the other, and Highway 1 on the horizon. October 14th through the 15th, the quaint seaside farm town of Half Moon Bay becomes something more along the lines of Halloween Town. The local residents dawn costumes, artisans display their finest pumpkin collections, and coffee shops serve nothing other than pumpkin flavored bread and coffee.

At eight in the morning it’s hard not to be distracted by the bright orange pumpkin patches speckled against the sapphire horizon; yet this departure time is key in order to avoid the annual traffic to the festival. As we cruised into the city limits, our Young the Giant soundtrack was replaced by the local radio, sounding Halloween favorites, local weather, and info about the festival. As some of the first hundred people to reach the festival, we were able to snag some freshly baked pumpkin muffins from a local corner bakery. We walked and nibbled, admiring the countless booths of artisanal crafts, paintings, candles, and more.

Though I felt as if I could stay in Halloween Town forever, we were back in the car by eleven and on the way to Santa Cruz. Our first stop when we reached town was Taqueria Los Pericos, a MUST EAT. I opted for the veggie burrito, but would highly recommend anything on the menu, especially if accompanied by their legendary orange salsa and homemade tortilla chips.

Re-energized, we headed up to the breathtaking UC Santa Cruz campus. Placed atop a hill within a Redwood forest, the campus could easily be mistaken for a national park. After swapping our clothes for swimsuits and our baggage for towels and surfboards, we hit the beach. While Santa Cruz is known to many for its Beach Board walk, to the north there are a number of smaller beaches. The dog beach, formally known as Lighthouse Field State Beach, is a local favorite. Aside from the obvious plus, cute dogs everywhere, the beach also has fantastic cliffs. Perfect for watching the sunset or jumping, the cliffs are constantly vibrant with music and Santa Cruz natives.

Post sunset, the beach gets a little chilly, and we went in search warmth and good food. One quick trip to Safeway later, we were chopping vegetables, heating tortillas, and mashing avocado in preparation for taco night. Nine of us squeezed around a table, proved the perfect foundation for good humor, conversation, and laughter.

The next morning was an early one. Sipping on mocha’s topped with homemade whip cream from the Santa Cruz Coffee company, we browsed Bookshop Santa Cruz, Sock and Shoe company, and Moon Zooom. After a bit of a wait, we managed to sit down for breakfast at the Walnut Avenue Café. A HIGHLY recommended destination for an amazing brunch, especially the French Toast loaded with caramelized bananas, walnuts, and whipped cream.

Unfortunately, the fun had to end. After a tough goodbye we were back on the road, headed home to Berkeley. A bag of vintage finds, the iconic Santa Cruz bumper sticker, and a disposable camera full of memories, were tucked safely in the trunk, mementos from a great weekend down the coast.

Photos: Bella Braconi

Bella Braconi

Digital Marketing Intern, Contributor

Bella's love for traveling started with her mother who was a flight attendant for United Airlines. She loves music, art & is always in search of adventure!

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