i think my favorite place we stayed during our road trip was santa cruz. i loved the laidback vibe of [what i saw of] the city, and we really enjoyed our evening there.
we stayed right by the boardwalk, so after we checked into our hotel and had a quick nap, we freshened up and headed down for a walk. along the way we watched people swimming, playing beach volleyball, and generally enjoying the gorgeous weather and scenery.
we walked the length of the boardwalk, and although i was disappointed the rides were not open [i had my heart set on the giant dipper*], it was pretty nice to stroll through while it was empty. i can just imagine what it must be like on breezy summer evenings, with people of all ages enjoying the various rides and games and food.
after the boardwalk we walked along the wharf, scoping out the menus at all of the restaurants to decide where we wanted to eat. the young woman at the front desk of our hotel had recommended stagnaro bros at the end of the wharf, which is where we ended up, both for their menu and for their giant picture windows with views of the sun setting over the water.
on our way back to the hotel after dinner we poked our heads in a few of the souvenir shops along the wharf to pick up postcards and shot glasses and magnets. it was such a nice, relaxed evening, and i really enjoyed our time in town.
*the giant dipper is the roller coaster the gang rides in the lost boys, the classic 80s movie about teenage vampires that is just amazing. i had my heart set on riding it, but it sadly was not in the cards.