Even though we usually travel without reservations, for our few weeks on the California coast we knew that we had to break that rule. After spending the last couple of weeks in Morro Bay and Pismo Beach we had one last beach stop before heading inwards to mountains and lakes: Santa Cruz.
We lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 11 years so we know this part of the country better than most. Our knowledge of Santa Cruz was mostly based on running the Wharf to Wharf race each year. Back when we used to run regularly this was always our never miss race of the summer. It's 6 miles from Santa Cruz Wharf to Capitola Wharf and the race was always so much fun as the local residents turned it into a party atmosphere. We knew back then that this was a town that we could come to love but we had never spent any significant time here.
New Brighton Beach
Finally after several years we had time on our hands and parked up at New Brighton State Beach with several days to explore. That's what is so great about our life, nor more hurried weekend visits, time to settle in and wander aimlessly discovering hidden treasures. The campground is in a great location on a bluff above the beach. It's a short walk along some disused train tracks to Capitola, and walking distance to the Santa Cruz neighborhood of Pleasure Point, home of legendary coffee shop Verve and a new brewery that just opened, New Bohemia.
We also walked to an innovative brewery Sante Adairius Rustic Ales from the campground. Walking along the shore in the other direction you pass million dollar beach homes before reaching funky Seacliff Pier with it's spooky concrete ship abandoned at the end of the jetty. I am brewing an idea for an action movie called Ghost Ship starring Liam Neeson, where he has to overcome a flock evil cormorants and wrestle an elephant seal to free his kidnapped daughter.
We spent a good deal of time wandering through the neighborhoods of Capitola and despite the occasional ugly mega-mansions that some silicon valley jerks chose to erect, the community still has a beachy, unpretentious, anything-goes feel. This is somewhere we could spend a lot more time. But for now it's time to head inland, it's time to switch the surf for mountain air.