Santa Cruz ★★☆☆
How Long: A few hours to a day
Santa Cruz is one of California's iconic beach towns, home to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a classic oceanside amusement park. It's also one of two California cities who squabble over the title of "Surf City," with legendary Steamer Lane just off the coast and plenty of nice, sandy beaches to wiggle your toes in. Besides all the oceanside ambiance, you'll find a thriving arts community and a walkable downtown.
Side Drive Through Santa CruzTraveling south: Exit CA Hwy 1 at Bay Street, turn left onto Beach St, past the pier and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Turn left on 3rd Street and left again onto W. Cliff Drive. Follow that along the cliff tops past Lighthouse Field State Beach and the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Turn right onto Swift St. to rejoin Hwy 1.
Traveling north: Turn right onto Swift St, shortly after you notice that you're entering town. Make a left on W. Cliff Dr., veering right onto Beach St near the pier and passing the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. A few blocks after crossing the river, turn left onto Seabright Avenue, then right on Soquel Ave and follow that until you rejoin Hwy 1.
Read More About Santa Cruz: What there is to do, where to eat, places to stay