Near the Sea We Forget to Count the Days.
The "Beach Glass House" is ideally located in Santa Cruz, California. This area is known for its mild, Mediterranean climate, with summer temperatures in the mid-70's. Surround mountains shelter the beach town from coastal fog, allowing us an average of 300 sunny days a year. You are sure to enjoy the many attractions, activities and recreational opportunities of Santa Cruz and Capitola, most within walking distance or a short drive from the "Beach Glass House".
House features a short walk to the 21st Avenue beach. With little public parking, this affords a very private beach experience. Great for surfing, boogie boarding, swimming, or just relaxing in the sun. Also nearby is Stacie's Beach at 20th Avenue and has a staircase to the stand. Just up the street at 17th Avenue is Sunny Cove known as the best boogie boarding beaches in Santa Cruz. For more beach information see shorelinesurf.com and look under beach guide.
East Cliff Coastal Access Points
12th Ave. to 41st Ave. The County has 13 coastal access points throughout the East Cliff area for ease in reaching beaches.
Main Beach/Cowell Beach
Beach St. Santa Cruz invites beach lovers to play volleyball or stroll along miles of sandy beach. Boardwalk Amusement Park. Beach-going wheelchair available in summer at Cowell Beach on first-come basis.
Moran Lake Park
East Cliff Dr. and Lake Ave., Live Oak Park with coastal access and family picnic area.
Natural Bridges State Beach
2531 West Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz. This beach is named after archways carved into the rock formations by ocean waves. The beach is popular with surfers, wind-surfers, tide-pool trekkers, and sunbathers. This 65-acre park hosts an overwintering population of Monarch butterflies from late October through February.
Pleasure Point Beach
East Cliff Dr. and Pleasure Point Dr., Santa Cruz. This coastal access point is a popular Santa Cruz surf spot.
Red, White and Blue Beach
5021 Coast Rd., (Hwy 1) Santa Cruz. Clothing-optional beach featuring day-use facilities and overnight camping.
Santa Cruz Harbor Beach
5th Ave. at East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz. Adjacent to Santa Cruz Harbor. Restaurants. Full service marina. Charter boats. Catamaran beach storage May-October. Beach volleyball.
East Cliff Dr. at Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz. Seabright Beach is a favorite for family outings, swimming, bodysurfing, beach combing and beach volleyball. A long sandy beach between the Boardwalk and the Santa Cruz Harbor.
Twin Lakes State Beach
East Cliff Dr. at 7th Ave., Santa Cruz. One of the area’s warmest beaches, due to its location at the opening of Schwann Lagoon. Fire-rings, outdoor showers and restrooms are available.
Santa Cruz is located on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, one of the largest protected marine areas in the world. The Bay is home to 26 species of marine mammals, 96 species of seabirds, 345 species of fish, and 4 species of turtle. Watch otters, harbor seals and other sealife play in the waves as you walk the shoreline, or venture onto the Bay for a closer look. Rent a kayak on the Santa Cruz Wharf, or sail the Bay on a chartered yacht. Check out an 87-foot blue whale skeleton, decorator crabs, eels and sea stars at the newly constructed Seymore Marine Discovery Center. In addition to the center’s exhibit galleries and aquariums, you’ll enjoy superb views of the Bay. If you’re visiting between December and April, don’t forget to watch the coastline for migrating whales. West Cliff Drive is a good viewing point for spotting pods of whales en route between their winter calving grounds in Mexico and summer feeding grounds off Alaska. Carmel and Monterey are a short drive south for more beaches, golfing, shopping or enjoy the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Visit montereybayaquarium.org for more information.
Built at the turn of the century, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is California’s only remaining major beachside amusement park. Old-fashioned and modern amusements mingle at the Boardwalk, with over 30 rides and attractions for thrill-seekers of all ages. Ride two historic monuments: the 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and the vintage 1911 Looff Carousel. A huge indoor arcade, miniature golf, laser tag and bowling are available for year-round fun. Don’t miss the Boardwalk’s free summer concerts, featuring retro rock-n-roll groups.
The Santa Cruz Harbor
Santa Cruz Harbor, Twin Lakes State Beach, and Seabright/Castle Beach is an easy 5 minute bike ride from the Beach Glass House! The harbor provides numerous possibilities for the boat owner and the public at large. It is the place to find a welcoming mix of beach activities, shopping, and boating related businesses. There are restaurants, shops, and charter boat options available to all. The harbor provides berthing and dry storage facilities for a variety of boats ranging from kayaks to commercial fishing vessels. The harbor is maintained year round. The harbor’s marine park atmosphere is enhanced by informational displays along a walking tour, which emphasize the marine history of the harbor and the Monterey Bay. The large spans of beach on either side of the light house makes a perfect setting for a day at the beach and is a favorite for family outings, swimming, bodysurfing, beachcombing and beach volleyball. Harbor office open 8:30 am-5 pm daily. Visit the harbor website for an in-depth look. www.santacruzharbor.org.
Capitola is an intimate beach village tucked in a river valley in Santa Cruz County on the Monterey Bay. Located just a few minutes drive from the Beach Glass House. Capitola has fishing and boating services in addition to its beachfront restaurants, many shops and entertainment. Enjoy a walk along the beach to the Capitola Wharf. The City’s wharf and riverside areas remind one of a village in France or perhaps a Mediterranean coast in Italy. Capitola Village is located along a wide beach with a breathtaking view of Monterey Bay and is home to numerous craft galleries, boutiques and great restaurants.www.ci.capitola.ca.us and www.capitola.com.
More to Do
Lined with restaurants and shops, the Santa Cruz Wharf stretches a half-mile out into the Santa Cruz Harbor. Built in 1914, the Wharf is a pretty place for a stroll and an up-close view of crabbers and bait fishermen after halibut. With its fresh fish markets and family-owned restaurants, the Wharf is the place to go for seafood with a view.
West Cliff Drive
Walk along West Cliff Drive, a paved path that winds for miles along the ocean, and find out why local residents have consistently voted it the Best Outdoor Promenade, Best Bike Ride, Best Jogging Trail and Best Roller Blading Ride in Santa Cruz. The walk along West Cliff Drive offers gorgeous ocean views, sunsets and glimpses of surfers, dolphins, sea lions and whales. Along the way, stop at two surf monuments: the bronze surfer statue at the Pelton steps, and the remodeled brick lighthouse that’s now the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Museum displays trace over 100 years of surfing history in Santa Cruz, starting with the arrival of two Hawaiian princes in 1885. Just off Lighthouse Point, see Seal Rock, a tiny island strewn with sea lions and seals. Walking along West Cliff Drive, you’ll also discover the natural wonders of Lighthouse Field State Beach, a 40 acre park with unpaved trails, numerous birds — including the rare Black Swift — and an increasing number of wintering Monarch butterflies.
Surf and Other Sports
Santa Cruz has long been considered the capital of Northern California surfing. Famous breaks like Steamer Lane and Pleasure Point, plus countless lesser known spots, ensure a vibrant and thriving surf scene. We get great waves on almost any swell-direction, year-round, and most spots are sheltered from prevailing winds and chop. This miracle of geography makes Santa Cruz a mecca for long and short board surfers of all levels.
Beginners will find board and gear rentals, plus lessons by professional surfers, at Cowells Beach by the Wharf. Club Ed rents boogie boards, surfboards and wetsuits, and offers lessons on Cowell’s gently breaking waves. Richard Schmidt Surf School also offers lessons, along with a promise to have you riding a wave on your first day in the water.
Steamer Lane — one of the world’s great and most consistent surfbreaks — is a long point break set off by the sandstone cliffs of Lighthouse Point. Because it is sheltered from most prevailing winds yet exposed to virtually all swells, the Lane is great in everything from 2′ to 15′.
For surf reports, tide tables and details on surfing in Santa Cruz, check out this useful surf website.
Though Santa Cruz has earned its reputation for excellent surf, the town’s appeal to outdoor enthusiasts extends well beyond the waves. Santa Cruz is the ideal gateway for golfing, hiking, mountain biking, cycling, kayaking, sailing, fishing, diving, windsurfing and kiteboarding along the north coast of the bay.
The Pacific Garden Mall is our downtown shopping district located along Pacific Avenue. Maple trees and benches line the extra-wide sidewalks of “Downtown’s” eclectic promenade. Major retailers like The Gap and Starbucks have settled in alongside surf shops, upscale boutiques, vintage clothing shops, antique stores, independent bookstores and a farmers’ market featuring organically grown produce. Coffeehouses, sidewalk cafes, bakeries, bars, restaurants and theaters abound. A walking tour will take you past public murals, sculptures, art-deco inspired buildings, and over a dozen galleries featuring work by local artists. For more art, visit the downtown Museum of Art and History.
Restaurants recommended by the locals are listed here. For great Chinese food try the Golden Budha in Soquel. If you are looking for steak, seafood, or great bar food you’ll find it at The Crow’s Nest located at the Harbor, Café Rio, Ideal Bar & Grill, or Stagnero’s at the Wharf. Don’t miss the Best Pizza at Pleasure Pizza in Capitola. For hamburger’s, sandwiches, and salads with a beach and beautiful view of the ocean check out Zelda’s which is in the photo here is located on the beach in Capitola Village just minutes from the beach house.
Al Dente, Aldo’s Harbor, Caffe Lido, Zoccoli’s Pasta House, and Kianti’s are great Italian restaurants. For seafood try the Crow’s Nest, Café Rio, Ideal Bar & Grill, or Stagnero’s at the Wharf. El Palomar, Margaritaville, Palapas are great for a Mexican cuisine.
Visit the many boutique wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains, consistently recognized as a premium wine producing region. There are close to 50 family-owned wineries in the area, producing some superb zinfandels, cabernets and estate-grown chardonays.
The Actors Theater in Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Ballet Theater, and Cabrillo Music Festival in Aptos might be an interest to you. Also enjoy the open studios of local artists displayed over 3 weekends in October. Don’t miss the Capitola Art and Wine Festival or the Begonia Festival in the Village.
There is much biking to do in this area. Here are a few places to check out. South along East Cliff Drive. West Cliff Drive and Natural Bridges State Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Boulder Creek, Castle Rock State Park, and New Brighten State Beach Park in Capitola. Visit Armadillo Cyclery for rentals 831-426-7299 or Cruiser King 831-458-BIKE.
This area offers courses with ocean views and incredible greens. Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz – rated in the top 100, De Lavega a mountain top course, Boulder Creek Golf and Country Club in the Santa Cruz mountains, a par 65 course, Aptos Seascape, or drive 45 minutes to Pebble Beach Golf Course.
Wilder Ranch State Park features 3,600 acres of hiking and biking trails. Big Basin Redwoods State Park has 80 miles of nature walks and trails. Ano Nuevo State Reserve has hiking through the sand to see the elephant seals.
Redwood Riding Adventures in Felton or Castle Rock State Park and Rancho de Oso State Park in Davenport.
Don’t neglect this all time favorite past time. Visit the Village in Capitola or the Pacific Garden Mall in downtown Santa Cruz. Antiquing is just across the street at Cherish the Thought or at many other shops in this area. Costco, Albertson’s, Trader Joe’s, and Gayle’s Bakery are all nearby.
The Giant Redwoods, Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad and the Begonia Gardens
41st Avenue in Capitola (in Albertson’s center). Del Mar and Rio in downtown Santa Cruz. Cinema 9.