This post was most recently updated on January 11th, 2017
My current home base–Northern California–is one of geographic variety; within a short hour drive, you can view the grandeur of the redwoods, dip your toe into the Pacific ocean, or get caught up in the bustle of San Franciscan city life. So, with so much to see (and an 18-month toddler pleading to get out of the house), my little family and I have been hitting the road to explore the natural wonders that surround us. The best part of it all has been finding outdoor adventures that can be done by foot, making them nearly FREE! Read on to learn more about where we went strolling in Santa Cruz…and a giveaway!
Our most recent trip took us to the coast of Santa Cruz on a windy, winter day. We hit the road by 9:30 am (which, by no means, is a personal record), but were pleased that the Saturday beach traffic was minimal. After a quick thirty minute drive along the winding roads of highway 17 through picturesque mountains and forests, we made our way to Lighthouse Field State Beach . There is ample free parking near the lighthouse or in the residential areas behind the field, which made this the perfect spot for a hassle-free coastal stroll!
We enjoyed watching the powerful winter waves crash up against the rocky cliffs and sandy shores; most of the beach was inaccessible due to the strong waves, so we walked along the paved pathway up above. Overlooking the beach, we enjoyed seeing the waves roll in, white with foam; it almost looked like snow!
As we continued south along the coast, we stopped to see the surfers who were braving the huge swells! A bit of a crowd was congregating at the fence overlooking the surfers, but we edged our way in to watch the action. Although the surfers looked a bit like ants from way up on the bluff, we enjoyed observing many surfers catch a sweet wave, or even an epic wipeout!
Immediately behind the surfing lookout, we saw the lighthouse! While we didn’t get to go inside (it wasn’t open by the time we arrived), the lighthouse houses the Santa Cruz Surfing museum. It is free to visitors, although donations are requested; check out the hours here if you want to go inside. Even without getting to enter the museum, though, the lighthouse was a sight to see in and of itself!
Onward we went, following the coast southward! At this point, we were only a mile away from the Santa Cruz Wharf and famous Beach Boardwalk (which we’ve frequented in the past), but the attention span of our son was waning. We began walking back to our car via the residential area behind Lighthouse Field State Park and enjoyed seeing the historic homes and quirky beach town neighborhoods!
This little stroll along the coast of Santa Cruz was a perfect outing for my family, especially since it cost only $5.28 in gas money! Seeing natural as well as historical sites along the way made this Santa Cruz stroll a wonderful Saturday adventure!
What fun (and FREE) things have you discovered as you’ve strolled around your city?
Written by guest blogger Heather Young (my lovely daughter!), whose photography is featured on her blog, Heather Hiding Photography.
And now for the giveaway…
GPSmyCity is sponsoring this giveaway of twenty free promo codes for full-version city walk apps. Each code allows a free download of the app for the city walk of your choice, from a selection of over 470 cities around the world. Headed to Paris? There are over 35 unique city walks available to download. Is Rome next on your agenda? There are 27 different city walks, including a “Roman Holiday” Movie Tour!
What about California? Choose from Santa Barbara, San Diego, Anaheim, Dana Point, Fresno, Laguna Beach, Monterey, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, or Santa Cruz. This is a great way to explore your favorite city! It’s just like having your own private tour guide. City walk themes include cultural, cuisine, historic, nightlife, religious sites, children’s attractions, art, desserts, museums, and so much more. Choose the walk that is just right for you. Contest runs from February 17, 2016 at 12:00 AM to March 2, 2016 at 12:00 AM. Enter now and come back each day to add entries!
GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED
Thanks so much for entering! (Winners have been notified via email)
Interested in more California city outings? Check these out:
I sure have enjoyed walking around downtown San Diego, especially around seaport village. I think I’ve made the walk along the waterfront at least a dozen times and it always has something new and wonderful to enjoy! 🙂
What a stunning and peaceful place! I won’t participate in the giveaway, as I’m from the Netherlands, but I just wanted to give you a comment, because I really love your photography! Love your hubbie and child enjoying the rough coast!
Thanks for your comment, Simone. There are city walk apps for cities all over the world. Feel free to enter the giveaway and win a city walk app for a city near you!
Love meandering NYC. But Barcelona might be tops! Then there’s Paris. How does one choose a favorite? Would LOVE to try a little guided walk with GPSmycity, too!
Great article and awesome pictures. Love boardwalks so much and Santa Cruz sounds lovely.
It truly is a beautiful coastal getaway! There are several beautiful beaches, a lighthouse, natural arches, and even a fun boardwalk with restaurants, shops, and rides.
SO pretty- a different side to California that you see on TV shows
Living in London, there are tons of amazing things you can do for free! My favourite is to wander around all the cute little mews streets in Kensington, Chelsea and Notting Hill. The houses are beautiful and so colourful – oh, to live there one day!
So many wonderful things are only a walk away!
We love finding free things to do especially when it includes a cool lighthouse and a beautiful beach! Santa Cruz sounds like a great getaway.
I love your pictures! The water actually does look a bit like snow, it looks amazing! I already got a city walk app so I’ll pass for this time 🙂
Glad you appreciated the photography!
That book mailbox is so cute! There are so many fun places to explore in California! I haven’t been to Santa Cruz, but it looks lovely!
What a beautiful place. Sounds amazing. We think walking around a city is the best way to see a place. We always spend a day in every place with no plans just exploring. Thanks for sharing.
Beautiful photos! And only a thirty-minute drive from your home. Love the book exchange, I pretty much thrive on these. Six months of travel and I haven’t bought a book once 🙂
I love free stuff and lucky you have some amazing weekend trips to make where you’re located! How wonderful that the coast is right on your doorstep. Beautiful photos too 🙂
I love strolling along beaches and ocean sides! Your photos of the crashing waves remind me of when I used to live on Vancouver Island when I went to university. Looks like such a fun weekend trip! Thanks for sharing this post 🙂
My favorite way to explore a new city! I’m hoping to explore more of Chicago later this summer!
Lived in SF for many years and loved Santa Cruz whenever I went there. Brings back memories .. http://usimages.blogspot.com/2008/12/santa-cruz.html
Geocaching is one of my favorite fun free activities. The book exchange made me think about it 😉 I also love hiking with my pup – which is always free, and we both go home happy!!
Thank you Tami, for this concise coastal stroll. Very helpful for when I visit.
I miss heading out for a walk around town with my toddlers. My teenagers have their own agenda…
Your photos are stunning. The only Santa Cruz coast I know is the one with the boardwalk.
I can’t say I’ve ever done a walking tour before. But someday I’d like to do one in Boston.
Seriously great photography
Thank you so much! It’s actually the work of my daughter, whose photography website is listed in the post. I’ll tell her you like the photos!
Thank you SO much! Photography is my passion and it’s great to know it is appreciated. 🙂
I really like exploring San Diego on foot 🙂
I love to explore every city I visit by foot! The most interesting so far was London.
I’ve been to Rome once and this app would have helped greatly. There’s soooo much in that city to explore.
Pingback: San Francisco: Tips & Tricks - Postcards & Passports