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Surfin’ USA in Bohemian CA
Santa Cruz was surf central California long before the Beach Boys sang about it. The Surfing Museum in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse tells stories of those who have braved some of the world’s best waves.
Overlooking the ocean rollers are the Coconut Grove Ballroom and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk - the oldest amusement park in the state of CA, and the last original one on the West Coast. Its historic carousel, rollercoasters and rides are a colourful backdrop to Cowell’s Beach, best viewed from the Sky Glider cable cars.
Jutting into Monterey Bay is the wharf where sea lions bask and pelicans decide on their next meal. Seafood restaurants are abundant here and the bars provide lively nightlife. Pacific Avenue is the main shopping area and one street away is the Museum of Art & History.
Unsurprisingly for a surfer hotspot, the city has a liberal outlook and is known for political activism - a far cry from the era when the Santa Cruz Mission was established. The mission is now a state park alongside Natural Bridges Beach and the Big Basin Redwoods in forested hills behind the city, home to the gravity-defying Mystery Spot.
Booking.com’s Santa Cruz accommodation includes pet-friendly motels, hotels with hot tubs and cheap inns near UCSC.