Last time, I left off at Day 7 of our trip which took place in San Francisco. I didn’t really write too much about what we did, but even though when we originally planned the trip we thought we would be driving up to San Francisco twice. After our long day there, we decided once would be enough. Sure, there is a lot more stuff we missed out on seeing but it’ll just have to be some other time. We weren’t sad about it.
Day 8: Seabright Beach, Wilder Ranch State Park
In the morning, we drove (because it was windy and cold) down to Seabright Beach which was just over a mile down the road from the apartment. There is a lighthouse on this beach at the point, but otherwise it’s just a wide expanse of sand and then the ocean. Other than our son not wanting to leave when we had to, it was a beautiful morning. After lunch and naps, we drove north on Hwy 1 just outside the city to Wilder Ranch State Park. By my guess, we ended up hiking at least 3 miles on a trail that took us along the bluffs next to the ocean. One word: AMAZING. Also, we got to see our first seals here.
Day 9: Big Sur, Los Padres National Forest
Today, we started our day early right after breakfast. After our first day in Big Sur, we knew we wanted to go back and keep driving further south on Hwy 1 continuing into the Los Padres National Forest. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any more stunning, we kept being surprised at the beauty of the Pacific coastline and also the forest. Words really can’t describe it unless you’re actually there experiencing it. Photos try to do it justice but it’s just not the same. Anyway, we made sure to be stocked up with plenty of food, snacks and water this time around since we didn’t know if there would be anywhere to stop. Well, there are the cutest little shops in a certain part of the forest (where the famous Big Sur Bakery is at! and I’m still kicking myself for not remembering to stop at.) and even places to put gas in the car. We stopped for lunch at a vista point and continued our drive south all the way down until we reached Jade Cove. Again, no words for the beauty of this area. We spotted a lot of whales this time, too! Overall, it was another long day of driving and car sitting but it was so worth it.
Day 10: West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz
Today, we started with some more coffee. Yum! Then, we made one last run to Target for travel essentials before lunch and nap time.
In the afternoon, we stayed in the area because so.much.driving yesterday. We walked around West Cliff Drive and this time went further along the coast. There were seals out swimming and playing in the bay, which was fun to see. After walking a few miles, it was time for an afternoon snack…at an ice cream shop I had read about in a magazine. I tried the Candied Buddha’s Hand and Kabocha Chocolate Ripple, which were different yet most excellent. It was a low key day, which was much needed especially since we had been doing so much up to this point.
Day 11: Watsonville, Seacliff Beach State Park, Seabright Beach (New Years Eve!)
Being that today was our last full day in Santa Cruz, we wanted to squeeze in a few last minute places that were not too far away. The morning started out with a short drive south to Watsonville, which is most known for its agriculture. It’s actually in the Salinas Valley (I think, but don’t hold me to it) and reminded me a lot of certain parts of Israel that we saw. Anyhow, we originally wanted to do some sort of tour at Giant or Driscoll’s but couldn’t find that either company gave them. Anyhow, we drove to see the Driscoll’s corporate headquarters which was surprisingly a lot smaller (location-wise) than expected. On the way back, we stopped at Seacliff Beach State Park and spent about an hour walking around and taking photos.
In the afternoon, we ended up walking to Seabright Beach one last time. The light was just perfect and it wasn’t too cold outside. It was a lovely way to end our vacation.
Day 12: Travel Day
We had an early 5:45am wake-up time, in order to get to the San Jose Airport for our flight home. The weather had been getting progressively colder and it was 32* that morning which according our driver, was not very common for winter in Santa Cruz. Despite the cold and early start, we managed to get to the airport on time. The sunrise over the Santa Cruz mountain range was beautiful, as the colors shifted from that translucent blue dawn to bright, fiery orange, yellow and lilac. If I hadn’t been so carsick on the ride there, I would have a photo to show you.
Since there’s never really a good way to wrap up these type of posts, I’ll leave you with one last photo of our son, enjoying the Pacific Ocean to the fullest. We truly enjoyed our long vacation and making new memories together!