Are you looking for the most exercise, and most invigorating pier walk in California? Santa Cruz has it! Ranked as the longest over the water, public pier in California, you better plan for at least a half an hour journey to reach the end and head back to dry dock again. Over half a mile long, this 2,745 foot long wooden wharf structure first built in 1914 is located in the heart of Santa Cruz's fun zone--the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Don't miss special events such as Woodies on Wharf held each June (cityofsantacruz.com)
The pier contains a number of restaurants that entice with fresh catch of the day, delicious desserts and awesome ocean views. If you can make it past the food, the views of the scenic redwoods, the beach and the cute seals and sea lions that playfully bark next to the pier planks, then you can get in a mile walk in 10 - 15 minutes without annoying pleasure strolling tourists and happy locals, but do go back on the pier again once your exercise regimen is completed. The pier is such a powerful experience and a real anchor to the heart and soul of Santa Cruz, an ocean-loving city.
Santa Cruz or Surf City, as locals call it, is San Francisco and San Jose's favorite beach getaway no more than an hour's distance from most major bay area cities. Set at the foot of mountains with with redwood forests, Santa Cruz combines the old-fashioned boardwalk experience with its 100+ year amusements on the sand, and the woodsy, mountain terrain. There's really no place like it in all of California.
In addition to the beach, there's a downtown with shopping, dining and an art museum frequented by college students attending UC Santa Cruz (home to Sammy the Banana Slug mascot.)
When visiting, be sure to take in the amazing surf culture in places such as the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum inside a lighthouse and Steamer Lane home to famous surf breaks that attract surfers from around the globe. Also do take time to explore one of Santa Cruz's top assets, its beaches. There's a beautiful Walton Lighthouse south of the Santa Cruz Wharf, Natural Bridges, beach butterfly tours, and just an amazing array of rocks, sandy coves, and vistas to experience!
There's always something going on in Santa Cruz, and many events happen right on the beach and wharf. Santa Cruz wharf is a tourist-must when visiting. With many restaurants and entertainment, take a stroll and watch the sea lions and seals below the wharf, or enjoy the distant shrills from kids riding the amusements and thrill rides on the boardwalk.
Hotel options include stays right at the beach, within walking distance and in nearby places such as Chaminade in the hills, or Scotts Valley and Capitola.