Santa Cruz Adventures - Hike - SUP - Lodging


Cruz on Down

It’s one of the most popular beach towns in California, filled with charming quirks and outdoor perks. Set yourself up for a Santa Cruz adventure.

Henry Cowell Redwoods

Ghost Buster

Santa Cruz is a mecca for the wonderfully weird, and its trees are no exception. Spot the rare albino redwood (aka "ghost tree") on a magical 5.2-mile (round-trip) hike at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. The journey showcases the varied terrain, landscapes, and natural wonders of the region, including California coast redwoods—the largest and tallest trees in the world—and the albino hidden within. Grab a brochure at the trailhead and set off along the San Lorenzo River, a mile-long stretch that winds under the cover of bay trees and past silver-leaf manzanitas. Leave the trickling river water to course through the thick cover of towering redwoods. Break into the open when you hit the Pine Trail, winding into the open air past Ponderosa Pine and through the remains of an controlled fire zone that still smells of burnt embers. At the hike’s summit, an observation deck offers sweeping views of the green Santa Cruz Mountain Range. Head down the Ridge Road Trail for a mesmerizing descent through the chaparral sandhills, ancient marine deposits that encompass a narrow trail with wall-like sand formations. At the pavement, head right for a final, easy 1.5-mile stretch back along the redwood-shaded Pipeline Road. Before reaching the trailhead, put the icing on your trek with a quick detour around the 0.8-mile Redwood Grove Trail. Herein awaits the muted albino amid the hollowed stumps of massive redwoods. A slow rain season has made the albino even more difficult to spot, so use your brochure to find the tree's exact destination along the trail. Hint: look for telltale white needles along the base of the trunk.

TIP: Camp at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, just a couple of miles down the road from the day-use parking lot. Here, 113 diverse, redwood-entrenched campsites make a woodsman’s paradise. You can even tweak your hike to launch right from the campgrounds (reservations).

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is located at 101 North Big Trees Park Rd. in Felton. Exit the parking lot on the pavement to the left of the Visitor's Center, turning left at Pipeline Rd. In 0.1-mile veer right on River Trail. Stay along the river until you veer up the Eagle Creek Trail. Turn right again at the Pine Trail for 0.7 miles until you reach the observation deck. Head right down the sand Ridge Trail for 0.5 miles to Pipeline Rd. Turn right and go 1.5 miles to the trailhead where you began. Finish your trek with a quick spin around the 0.8-mile Redwood Grove Trail among the ancient redwoods and glimpse the albino (#14 on the brochure found at the trailhead). Camping costs $35/night. Dogs aren’t allowed on this hike, but other trails at the park do allow dogs. The campground is dog-friendly.

SUP Santa Cruz


It’s official: stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is here to stay—gaining in both popularity and accessibility thanks to places like Covewater SUP. Whet your curiosity on their Intro to Stand-up Paddling adventure in the Santa Cruz harbor. An expert instructor leads a two-hour tour across mostly calm waters, teaching the basics of the paddle. Launching from the southern end, cruise past sunning harbor seals, regal blue herons, and yachts to rival St. Tropez. Pause to practice a "smart turn"—an easy swivel move that gets you paddling back in the direction you came—and nose up to the storybook Walton lighthouse sitting atop the oblong rocks that shape the shore. Enjoy views all the way out to Monterey's Moss Landing. If you fall in the water? Meh. Wetsuits (provided when chilly) will keep you toasty and buoyant. Want proof that you’re now SUP-savvy? Your instructor uses a waterproof camera to capture your best action shots. All of Covewater’s "students" are bid farewell with pictures and a T-shirt keepsake. Two thumbs SUP!

TIP: After quenching your thirst for adventure, toast the day with a glass of wine at Le Cigare Volant, the spaceship-inspired restaurant and tasting room for Bonny Doon Vineyard. The wines at this barnyard-meets-flying-saucer venue feature metal screw-tops, each printed with alien insignia. On Sunday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., the Roswell happy hour offers 51 percent off glasses of wine—in honor of Area 51. Far out.

Covewater SUP (831-600-7230) is located at 726 Water St. in Santa Cruz. Here are class schedules. The Intro to SUP class is $59 for a two-hour lesson and includes a T-shirt & photos. Wetsuits and swim shirts provided on colder days. Tours are typically six to eight people. Le Cigare Volant (831-425-6771) is located at 328 Ingalls St. in Santa Cruz.

Adobe on Green Street Santa Cruz

Downtown Adobe

Scoot over Yorkshire. Grab a lantern and a good night's sleep at Santa Cruz's intimate Adobe on Green Street Bed & Breakfast. Nestled amid a private garden underneath the shade of broadleaf trees, you'd never know that you're within easy walking distance of downtown Santa Cruz. With only four bedrooms on site, the Adobe—an actual adobe built in 1947—zests up its English countryside décor with quirky touches like an "Only you can prevent Forest Fires" vintage poster and a twist of contemporary: 75 percent of the inn's power is sourced from rooftop solar panels. The staff keeps a low profile and encourages guests to treat the Adobe as their own domain. At the end of a day spent adventuring, kick back with a bottle of wine on the porch-lit picnic table in the floral sanctuary out front. If you want to feel like a master of suites, cozy up with a book in one of the estate's two living rooms, or use the lantern to tiptoe through the halls. In the morning, pull up to the garden-view breakfast nook and enjoy homemade scones and jams, organic yogurt and granola. Adobe’s a hospitality ace.

FOODIE BONUS: Adobe’s owner, Brion Sprinsock, leads a history-packed Santa Cruz Food Tour. The 3.5-hour excursion takes groups of up to 12 on a 1.8-mile (round-trip) stroll through "edible" downtown, hitting five favorites including Penny's Ice Creamery and Malabar, a vegetarian Sri Lankan restaurant that serves up tasty Banana Leaf Salad. Chow down(town)!

Adobe on Green Street (831-469-9866) is located at 103 Green St. in Santa Cruz. Weekend rates during the summer start at $189 per night. All rooms have private bathrooms and accommodate two people. No dogs. The Santa Cruz Food Tour runs March through November on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. A Capitola option is also available on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available online.

SoCal Sojourn

This summer, get away without having to go far! Terranea Resort is one of Southern California's most beautiful escapes—combining heavenly beach relaxation with outdoor adventures. Book your stay soon and get up to $200 in Resort Credit (limited time only) when reserving one of Terranea's Summer Packages. The oceanfront hideaway—set on 102 acres of pristine open space at the tip of the Palos Verdes Peninsula—offers everything from poolside lounging (at one of three ocean-view pools!) and spa rejuvenation to quiet explorations and good times kayorkling (part kayaking, part snorkeling). Stay in a hotel guestroom or opt for one of the residential-style accommodations: Bungalows, Casitas and Villas are elegant yet functional with every modern convenience. Visit Pointe Discovery—a one-stop shop for experiencing all of Terranea’s land and sea adventures, including horseback riding in Rolling Hills and exploring secluded rocky beach coves. As the day winds down, enjoy cocktails while watching the sun set across the Pacific and choose from the resort's eight restaurants, cafes, lounges, or bars. Wrap up the evening with a s’mores roast and champagne toast at one of several fire pits or fireplaces. Here's to an escape that's not far away! Sweet Terranea dreams.

BONUS: Book your stay and receive up to $200 in Resort Credit (limited time only). Whether you're looking for a romantic retreat, a spa revival, a golf escape, a family adventure, or a dining extravaganza, Terranea Resort offers special packages and rates along with perfectly tailored itineraries to suit your wishes.

$200 in Resort Activity Credit is for a limited time only and is not applicable toward rooms. 

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