The Real "Surf City" of California...

Packed full of interesting tidbits and fun times, Santa Cruz is an amazing place to be...

The Real "Surf City" of California...

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by kustom57 on April 19, 2006

In 1769, the Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portola discovered the land area which is now known as the City of Santa Cruz. He named the river, San Lorenzo in honor of Saint Lawrence. He called the rolling hills above the river Santa Cruz, which means holy cross.

In 1791, the 12th mission in California was founded in Santa Cruz across the river from Villa de Branciforte. Branciforte was where present day East Santa Cruz is today.

By the 1820s Mexico had assumed control of the area and within the next twenty years, Americans began to arrive in great numbers. California became a state in 1849, and Santa Cruz County was created in 1850 as one of the twenty-seven original counties. Santa Cruz was incorporated in 1866 as a town under the laws of the State of California and received its first charter as a city in 1876.

Today, Santa Cruz is the quintessential beach town. It was here that Hawaiian royalty first introduced surfing to the mainland in 1895, and locals and visitors alike have been riding the waves ever since. Not far from the surf break, calliope music and laughter fills the air at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the West Coast's last remaining seaside amusement park. A few blocks from the beach is Santa Cruz's newly renovated downtown. The pedestrian-friendly, tree-lined streets are filled with vibrant shops and galleries, outdoor bistros and sidewalk musicians - all in keeping with Surf City's offbeat personality. Santa Cruz even has an unofficial motto that can be seen on stickers and shirts around the town. The motto is "Keep Santa Cruz Weird". It fits so well!

My favorite story is about the 1906 earthquake, the only fatality noted in the city was B.W. Stevens, who returned six days later from his honeymoon to protest being listed as dead.

Santa Cruz even held quite a fascination for Alfred Hitchcock. He based the movie "The Birds" on an actual event that happened in Santa Cruz. He even based the movie "Psycho" off of a real house in Santa Cruz. That house was rumored to be haunted, but it is now a assisted living facility.

Santa Cruz even contains the "Last Supper" wax figures that can only be seen with an appointment.${QuickSuggestions} Don't miss the Boardwalk, Mariannes' Ice Cream, Marinis' Saltwater Taffy and take time to visit the Surfing Museum!

Jack O'Neill, the inventor of the modern day wetsuit, is a resident of Santa Cruz and he has been honored by many generations of surfers here.

Bring sunscreen and a light windbreaker if you plan spending all day here. The sun during the day is nice, and there is a slightly chilly breeze that comes off the sea at night even during the summer. ${BestWay} Walk, bike, drive, or surf your way around this beach town. You could even walk on your hands, no one would think it strange at all.

Mariannes Ice Cream

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kustom57 on April 24, 2006

Mariannes Ice Cream has been around for years! It is the best place to get great old-fashioned ice cream in a family friendly atmosphere. They have a ton of flavors to choose from! If you want the best ice cream, this side of the Atlantic, you have to check out Mariannes! It isn't very expensive, but, WOW! This is homemade ice cream that will knock your socks off! It is usually crowded, but well worth the wait!
Mariannes Ice Cream
1020 Ocean Street
Santa Cruz, California, 95060
(831) 458-1447

Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kustom57 on April 19, 2006

The Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, or "the surfing museum," as it is better known, is truly a Santa Cruz original. It follows the history of surfing in the Santa Cruz area from 1895 to the present.

Surfing was introduced to Santa Cruz in 1895 by three Hawaiian princes, thus making it the first place where surfing was shown on the American mainland.

In the 1930s, Santa Cruz had a surfing club, and some of those surfers still surf to this day, like Harry Mayo, and original member volunteers at the museum when he isn't carving it up below the cliffs at Steamer Lane.

There is even a board inside from a shark attack. You can see the teeth bites, and luckily the surfer survived intact—lucky devil.

I would recommend this museum to all who visit Santa Cruz. It lets you in to the psyche of Santa Cruz locals and gives you an appreciation of the massive forces of nature that these surfers ride on.

The museum is open Thursday to Monday from noon to 4pm.

For more information, go to or call (831)420-6289
Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse
West Cliff Drive
Santa Cruz, California
(831) 420-6289

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kustom57 on April 19, 2006

Nearly 100 years ago, an idea was launched to create a fantastic seaside amusement park that would entertain all who visited. Today, that idea still stands in the city of Santa Cruz.

The magical place was called the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It is the West Coast's oldest amusement park and a State Historic Landmark. It houses two National Historic Landmarks—the 1911 Looff Carousel and 1924 Giant Dipper roller coaster. Owned and operated by the Santa Cruz Seaside Company since 1915, the Boardwalk remains a family-style amusement park creating memories that last a lifetime.

The Boardwalk just recently purchased the original Laughing Sal that used to stand outside of the entrance to San Francisco's famed Playland at the Beach. She has a cackling laugh that used to scare little children out of their wits! Legend has it that the recording came from a party where a woman became really drunk, and the resulting laugh was so strange that her friends had to record it. You truly need to hear her laugh in order to appreciate it.

The 1911 Looff Carousel still entertains riders and used to have brass rings that you threw at a clown's mouth during the ride. Today, you can still throw rings at the clown, but the brass rings have been replaced with mild steel due to theft of the originals.

The 1924 Giant Dipper is one of the greatest roller coasters ever! It is wood-framed and allows for one of the greatest views over Santa Cruz that you could ever hope to get. I love the sound of a wooden coaster, a clickety-clack and the smell of track grease in the summer. It isn't overwhelming, and in fact, most people don't even notice it.

Don't miss out on the people-mover overhead. It is fantastic! Ride the Cave train if you have little children with you. They will like it. During the summer, the Logger's Revenge can cool you down with a splash of water. Try some cotton candy or some caramel corn, and don't forget to stroll through the casino. Try to talk with the people running the rides, as the Boardwalk is a huge employer of college kids from UC Santa Cruz. You will come across many accents and interesting stories.

I love the Boardwalk. Many good times and lifelong memories have been made for me at this historical amusement park.

I would recommend this place to anyone and everyone. Whether for historical interest or looking for a thrill, the Beach Boardwalk hits a home run every time!

They even have free concerts during the summer on the beach!

Admission to the Boardwalk is always free, and to ride the rides, an unlimited wristband is the way to go. At $26.95 per person, it is a bargain. You can even get coupons online at!

Check out the website for information on any special events and the concert calendar.

I cannot say enough about how great the Boardwalk is. You will have see for yourself!
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
400 Beach Street
Santa Cruz, California, 95060
(831) 423-5590

The Mystery Spot

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kustom57 on April 26, 2006

An attraction that brings in many visitors to the Santa Cruz area, The Mystery Spot, has been amazing visitors since 1940.

They say that there are mysterious forces at work in the woods here. Gravity seems to have flipped its lid inside the circle that they call the Mystery Spot.

Some people claim that there is a supernatural metal beacon buried far beneath that was used by alien spacecraft. An engineer says that there are very high levels of carbon dioxide which leads people to see weird things and also leads to a light-headed feeling.

Balls roll uphill, people grow or shrink depending on where they stand, levels aren't level, and compasses go wacky in this neck of the woods.

To see more, or get more information, go to or call (831)423-8897
Mystery Spot
465 Mystery Spot Rd.
Santa Cruz, California, 95065
(831) 423-8897

Steamer Lane

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kustom57 on April 26, 2006

Steamer Lane, The Lane, or just Steamers to locals, is the best area in Santa Cruz to watch surfers do what they do best.

Steamer Lane has areas for all levels of surfing. Starting at the point nearest the rock and the lighthouse is for the best surfers. Near the beach in front of the hotels is the area for grommets (beginners in surf slang). In between those areas, people just have to see what they are comfortable with.

On a great day, sometimes you can spot some pro surfers who live in Santa Cruz, such as Shawn "Barney" Barrons and others.
Steamer Lane

Santa Cruz, California

Natural Bridges State Beach

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kustom57 on May 16, 2006

The Natural Bridges State Beach is located in a very pretty setting where Monarch butterflies like to flock to from mid-October through February. There are also tide pools available for exploring at the beach. There is also a visitor center that has exhibits about the local ecology. The beach is open daily at 8am until sundown and costs $6 per vehicle.
Natural Bridge State Beach
West Side of Santa Cruz on West Cliff Drive
Santa Cruz, California
(916) 653-6995

Stimulus to Travel...

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by kustom57 on April 26, 2006

I fell in love with Santa Cruz at a very early age, it was a 2-hour drive for us to get there, and I learned to love road trips. To this day, my urge to travel has not been sated, and I try to get time away from the everyday life to experience new things. There are a few quotes that I absolutely love, and that also stir me to get out and see the world. I would like to share them with you here;

1."Traveling is almost like talking with men of other centuries." -- René Descartes

2. "Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." –- Miriam Beard

3. Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.
- Babs Hoffman

4. The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
- Augustine (354-430)

5. If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light. Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness, and fears.
- Glenn Clark

6. Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it.
- Eudora Welty

7. The rewards of the journey far outweigh the risk of leaving the harbor.
- Unknown

8. It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.
- Ursula K. LeGuin

9. Your true traveller finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty - his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.
-Aldous Huxley

10. A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change.
-Katherine Hathaway

11. As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily, to appreciate more lovingly, our own.
-Margaret Mead

12. I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

13. Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.
-Mark Twain

14. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

15. All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.
-Martin Buber

16. The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.
-Gilbert Chesterson

17. Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel's immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way.
-Ralph Crenshaw

18. Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of food, your closet full of clothes - with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That's not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating.
-Michael Crichton

19. Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.
-Frank Herbert

20. The sea is dangerous and its storms terrible, but these obstacles have never been sufficient reason to remain ashore... unlike the mediocre, intrepid spirits seek victory over those things that seem impossible... it is with an iron will that they embark on the most daring of all endeavors... to meet the shadowy future without fear and conquer the unknown.
-Ferdinand Magellan

21. A man of ordinary talent will always be ordinary, whether he travels or not; but a man of superior talent (which i cannot deny myself to be without being impious) will go to pieces if he remains forever in the same place...
-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

22. I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.
-Susan Sontag

23. Travel like Ghandi, with simple clothes, open eyes and an uncluttered mind.
-Rick Steves

24. All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost
-J.R.R. Tolkien

25. No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.
-Lin Yutang

26. Walking ten thousand miles of world is better than reading ten thousand scrolls of books.
-Chinese Proverb

27. The Journey Is The Reward.
-Toaist Proverb

28. When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.
-Susan Heller

29. We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world.
-Marcel Proust

Here now is a quick explanation of the etymology of the word travel;

Travel: the word travel has a common origin with the word travail. Once upon a time, travel was exceedingly uncomfortable and often dangerous. Indeed, the ultimate source of the word 'travel' is a medieval instrument of torture - the trepalium - a contraption would pierce its victim's flesh with three sharp stakes (tres 'three' and palus 'stake'). The trepalium became a verb, trepaliare, which meant any form of torture. From torture to the Old French concept of travailler - or 'putting oneself to pain or trouble. Travailler came to mean 'work hard' in French. English borrowed the word as 'travail' and this, in turn, was used to describe a wearisome journey - travel.

I hope that after reading the above, that you will be inspired to travel. I search out new areas, new food, new experiences, and new friends. It seems to me that travel has a way of increasing wisdom.

Now, go. Strike out on your own and see the world in all of its marvelous glory.

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