Beach + Island

Great American Beach Towns

by Sarah Tuff

SANTA CRUZ, CALIFORNIA

The sand: You've struck gold in the Golden State, with 29 miles of beaches and a seaside amusement park.

Marine life: Our teeth hurt and our stomachs drop just thinking about all the cotton candy to be consumed and the roller coasters to be ridden at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the oceanfront park that's been whirling and twirling Californians for more than a century. But it's only one source of amusement in this college town on Monterey Bay, where bookish students and buff Laird Hamilton types alike spend their downtime mountain biking, long-boarding, and refueling on organic, farm-fresh fare (or at least a great fish taco). Rookie surfers should head to Cowell Beach, while volleyball players can pick up a game—or maybe a new friend—at busy Main Beach. On the menu at the Pearl Alley Bistro, diners discover hormone-free short ribs and sustainable cod, helping to make up for all that cotton candy.

The sanctuary: Invoking the jumbled, whitewashed villages of the Greek Islands, the Pleasure Point Inn has four tropics-themed rooms overlooking a surf break; ask about their learn-to-surf specials.

Pearl Alley Bistro
Tel: 831 429 8070

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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