The gorgeous and towering redwoods are the only thing separating San Jose from the beach, so this day trip provides an unforgettable journey over the hill to surf city, Santa Cruz.
Get an early start to the day with a delightful breakfast at Bill’s Café in charming Willow Glen before hitting the road. From here, head up H-17 toward Felton for your first stop at Roaring Camp Railroads. Catch the steam train for an unforgettable ride through the magnificent redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains until you reach the end of the line at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Stroll the boardwalk to catch the laid-back surfer vibe and head to Cowell’s Beach for morning surf lessons.
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, stay on the beach for a seafood sandwich, steamed clams and a bloody Mary at the Ideal Bar and Grill where you’ll fit right in with the bare-footed locals. The large patio is great for people-watching: look out for volleyball players. Then head down the wharf for some souvenir shopping or drift toward the harbor and hop aboard the 65' Team O'Neil catamaran and experience an adventure at sea.
Once back on land, go down the iconic West Cliff Drive to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum to learn about the history of surfing – after all, you’re in surf city. If you’ve had enough surfing for the day, request an Uber and detour to Kelly’s French Bakery for a delicious, homemade dessert and espresso. Kelly’s is in a converted warehouse-turned-district that locals flock to shop boutiques and explore the brewery and wine tasting rooms. Wander through or take your goodies to go and enjoy them at Natural Bridges State Beach, one of the most-photographed beach icons in California.
Your trip wouldn’t be complete without a short drive down the coast to Capitola Village, California’s oldest seaside resort town, which today remains a popular spot full of unique charm and colorful architecture. There’s no shortage of seaside dining – you can’t go wrong with any dining choice here. Paradise Beach Grille offers tasty dishes accompanied by occasional live music and equipped with a bayside patio where you’ll watch the golden tones of the sun drape the town as evening sets in. We encourage you to stay the night as you’ve probably missed the last train departing the boardwalk. But no worries: Zelda’s offers an exceptional breakfast and you’ll get the opportunity to do some shopping in the mercantile. After, head back to Santa Cruz and enjoy the day on the boardwalk before catching the train back. Insider Tip: Once back in Felton, you must stop at the historic Cremer House for a thoughtfully prepared meal and a homemade soda.
Mountains, redwoods and the gorgeous Pacific Ocean; stunning natural beauty surrounds you in every direction. Whichever path you choose, there is plenty to see and do from San Jose to the Monterey Bay.View Itinerary