Great American Beach Towns
But WaitThere's More
Find other great ideas in these related stories:
- Car-Free Destinations for Your Big Summer Trip ›
- Top Islands in the World ›
- The Best Cruise Ship Cabins ›
- 10 Ways to Stretch Your Dollar in Europe ›
- Natural Swimming Holes Around the World ›
- The Best U.S. Beach Resorts ›
- Last-Minute Escapes: Beach Vacations ›
- 12 Hotels with Overwater Bungalows ›
- 29 Restaurants on 11 Caribbean Islands ›
- Ten Island Escapes from the Cold ›
- Unexplored Caribbean ›
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 gameor maybe a new friendat 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