A Day in Santa Cruz

Hello, loves, and welcome back to a new week! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. The weather was absolutely amazing, so we spent much of it outside. We’re in that perfect window where it’s sunny and warm, but we’re not sweating our faces off! September through November is truly our reward for living through Texas in August!

A few weeks ago we escaped for a long weekend in California, with a couple of nights camping in Big Sur with friends (catch that HERE), and finishing off with 24 hours in Santa Cruz… a nostalgic little beach town perched between Big Sur and San Francisco. We flew out of San Jose, so Santa Cruz was a great halfway point, and the perfect spot for a day.

Santa Cruz Beach

Jersey Knit Pajama Set | Silk Sleep Mask

Dream Inn Santa Cruz

Softest Crewneck Sweater (40% off!) | Jean Shorts | Sneakers (on sale!)

Lightweight Sweatshirt (50% off!) | Jean Shorts | Sneakers (on sale!)

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

Lightweight Sweatshirt (50% off!) | Jean Shorts | Sneakers (on sale!)

Shrine Coffee

Lightweight Sweatshirt (50% off!) | Jean Shorts | Sneakers (on sale!)

Santa Cruz Pier

Henley Tee | Lightweight Sweatshirt (50% off!) | Jean Shorts | Sneakers (on sale!)

Santa Cruz Pier

Sea Lions at the Pier

Henley Tee | Lightweight Sweatshirt (50% off!) | Jean Shorts | Sneakers (on sale!)

Henley Tee | Lightweight Sweatshirt (50% off!) | Jean Shorts

Lunch at Steamer Lane Supply

The Boardwalk

Drinks at Dream Inn

Capitola Village

Historic Capitola Wharf

What We Did in Santa Cruz //

Our hotel had cruiser bikes, so we hopped on early and spent much of the day meandering the coastline.

West Cliff Drive / A scenic, three mile walking and biking path along the Pacific Ocean with epic views of the Monterey Bay. You’ll see many of the great spots in Santa Cruz, including Natural Bridges State Beach and Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Stop near the museum and watch the surfers on the point!

Santa Cruz Wharf / An iconic seaside pier full of shops, restaurants, fishing boats, and the orneriest herd of sea lions. It was built in 1914 and is the longest pier on the West Coast.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk /  An oceanfront amusement park, it dates back to 1907! Chock full of rides, games, and fried food. Remember the movie Lost Boys? It was filmed here!

Santa Cruz Beach / Right outside our hotel, it’s wide with relatively calm waters, with great people watching!

Capitola Village / A must-see in Santa Cruz, Capitola Village is reminiscent of a European Village on the Mediterranean, with colorful homes, shops, and restaurants dotting the shoreline.


Homes in Capitola Village

Where We Ate In Santa Cruz //

Shrine Coffee / A non-profit community coffee house nestled in the gardens of the Shrine of St. Joseph, it’s a peaceful spot to stop along West Cliff Drive.

Steamer Lane Supply / An unassuming lunch spot tucked next to the public restrooms, it has delicious quesadillas, bowls, and tacos. Perfect spot to stop with your bike and eat at the outdoor picnic tables. It is a favorite of Santa Cruz locals.

Dream Inn Pool Bar / Our hotel had a lively pool scene, with a full food and bar menu. We grabbed drinks to go and walked the beach.

Shadowbrook Capitola / Voted one of the most romantic restaurants in the US, Shadowbrook makes up for mediocre service with an amazing setting. It’s multiple levels built in to the lush cliffs along Soquel Creek… you can take the many stairs to the bottom, or take the cable car! Reservations book up early, but the bar and patio tables are first-come and fairly easy to snag.


Capitola Village

Where We Stayed In Santa Cruz //

Dream Inn Santa Cruz / The only beachfront hotel in town, it sits directly on the sand with views of Monterey Bay and the Pier. The rooms and lobby are decorated with a colorful, retro-chic style that felt like stepping back in time. All the rooms are oceanfront with balconies, and it has an onsite coffee bar, restaurant, and room service.

Cruiser bikes are available on a first-come basis, and it sits directly on the West Cliff bike path.

Jean Jacket (50% off!) | Bodysuit

What I Packed for Santa Cruz //

Layers, layers, layers! The morning started out chilly, with a thick fog, giving way to clear skies and warm sunshine in the afternoon. The dress code was California casual most everywhere, so this cozy sweater (on sale!) and henley tee were perfect.

I’ve been living in these sneakers, the most comfortable non-athletic shoes I’ve ever worn! I love the streamline shape, too, for pairing with shorts, jeans, and even skirts and dresses. Bonus, they’re on sale at Nordstrom!

Softest Crewneck Sweater (40% off!) | Jean Shorts | Sneakers (on sale!)


Built as the ‘Coney Island of the West,’ Santa Cruz has everything from beachside boardwalks to redwood forests, and is a great spot to stop on your West Coast road trip! We had the perfect California day, full of sunshine, fresh air, and good food. Have you been to Santa Cruz? Which California beach towns do you love?


*All photos taken on my iPhone. This post is created in collaboration with Nordstrom and ShopStyle, but all product selections, styling, and saddle soreness are my own. Thank you for supporting Hi Sugarplum and it’s sponsors!*

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