Andrew and I are in love with the natural beauty of Northern California, every time we leave we are always promising ourselves that we will return. There is something about getting lost in looking at the clear night skies full of stars or day hiking in the diverse environment of plants and animals that makes it hard to leave. Northern California is almost a whole different world in comparison to where I live in Southern California where it is full of backed up freeways and crowded streets. On other hand, these cities had a serene and comforting feeling about them. We road tripped from Orange County in Southern California to Humboldt (11 hours), San Francisco (5 hours), Santa Cruz (1 hour), Monterey (1 hour), Big Sur (1 hour), and Santa Barbara(4 hours = over 24 hours in driving!).
Here is Part 1: Santa Cruz and Humboldt
This beautiful coastal city has plenty of activities for any traveller including:
- One of the most popular spots in the city is Steamer Lane and is meant for surfers from the beginning to expert level. However, if you are a newbie trying to learn I would suggest Cowell’s. Also, if you’re a surfing history buff the city also has the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum
- Henry Cowell State Park was our favorite because of its amazing views of the California Redwoods. It was a perfect little hike. One of our friends told us that if we were lucky enough to find a yellow Banana Slug to kiss it for good luck. As we were on the trail I saw our first and only Banana Slug so of course I had to kiss it!
- Wilder Ranch State Park: this park has everything from hiking and biking trails, to old farm buildings, to ocean cliff paths, and hills for spectacular views of Santa Cruz.
- Big Basin Redwoods State Park: This is the park for hiking or camping, with over eighty miles of trails. Tip: the Skyline to the Sea trail is probably the most popular.
- Año Nuevo State Park: beautiful views of the beach. If you’re lucky you can see an elephant seal soaking up the sun.
The Beach and Boardwalk:
- The Boardwalk has amazing view of the ocean and plenty of activities for a couple of hours in Santa Cruz. The boardwalk’s popular rollercoaster built in May 1924, the Giant Dipper, was so fun we were asking for round two!
Food & Shopping:
- Downtown Santa Cruz and Capitola Village are the most well-known centers for shopping and eating out. They have plenty of trinket shops, ice cream, and delicious eateries.
“Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent. Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” – Rumi
Humboldt was larger than Santa Cruz and full of large Redwood trees and views of the California coast.. We loved exploring the beaches and found ourselves pulling over the car to stop and take a moment to look at the amazing views of nature that are seemingly everywhere you go. This county is full of the tallest trees in the world and the Redwoods are definitely a must for anyone coming to Humboldt. We felt very connected to nature throughout the trip because it is literally all around you. We stayed in a cozy Airbnb cabin in Burnt Ranch, CA.
The perfect city in Humboldt county to relax at the beach and enjoy the sun. The city has spectacular views of the ocean and the surrounding cities. It is also a great place to catch the sunset reflecting off the clear blue waters, followed by a sky full of flickering stars.
I loved these two cities because they were unconventionally relaxing and serene. They also brought out my adventurous side because I wanted to hike through the many parks to see the Redwood trees and other diverse creatures of the area like the Banana Slug. I feel very lucky to have cities like these in the state I live in and it’s a reminder to get out and explore more of my backyard.
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