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1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

Cary, North Carolina
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1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

We are staying on the beach with another family in what is supposed to be a gorgeous home. It will be adults, two 16 year olds and an 11 year old. We want adventure and sightseeing and GOOD FOOD. Especially Asian. I'd like to satisfy my nature/hiking fix. Also, would you clarify directions from SFO to Pajaro Dunes in Santa Cruz? Scenic but quickest would be appreciated. We have 2 days in San Francisco at the end of the trip that I'll be asking about on that forum. Thanks so much.

California
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1. Re: 1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

Pajaro Dunes is at least 20 miles south of Santa Cruz and on the upside it's less than 30 milesnorth of Monteey so you're kind of in the middle there.

Cary, North Carolina
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2. Re: 1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

Oh wow, that's great information. I had no idea. So that probably changes our transportation route from the airport, too? Okay, so then I guess I should say, what should we do, see, eat in Monterey and Santa Cruz? Is that too broad?

Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: 1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

You will enjoy being in Pajaro Dunes. Just be aware that you will be driving to sightseeing, nature/hiking and good food, as it is, as noted, halfway between Santa Cruz and Monterey in a wonderful complex, but not a commercial one.

The quickest, but still scenic, way to get there from the airport is to go slightly north of the airport to Hwy 380 and take it up to 280. Go south on this (it is a beautiful freeway, going in the foothills of the Coast Range). When you get to about Sunnyvale, watch for Hwy 85, signed to Gilroy) and then watch for the Santa Cruz exit, Hwy 17. This goes over the coast range and about 10 miles of it is curvy, but well engineered. Just follow the speed limit signs.

When you get into Santa Cruz, take the Hwy 1 exit towards Watsonville.

Here are the directions from the Hwy 17/Hwy 1 intersection

Merge onto CA-1 S toward Watsonville/Monterey

Take the CA-129/Riverside Drive exit

Take the ramp toward Sunset State Beach

Turn Right onto Lee Road

Turn Left onto W Beach Street

Turn Right onto Shell Drive

http://www.atthedunes.com/

For your nature/hiking fix look at Point Lobos south of Carmel. Lots of hiking, lots of scenery

lots of sea life. This is a must-do.

http://pt-lobos.parks.state.ca.us/

Another must-do is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is not your parent's aquarium, but a world class one. I believe that now they have a fascinating exhibit on sea horses, among other things.

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/

I am guessing that you will probably want to concentrate on the Monterey Peninsula, rather than Santa Cruz, and people there can tell you about restaurants, etc.

However, if you can spare half a day or so, do take the kids to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Santa Cruz is 45 minutes from Montery. The Beach Boardwalk celebrated its 100th birthday last year and it is not a theme park, but an old fashioned amusement park, on a wide and long beach, with rides and food and games of skill. (The old "casino" now houses hundreds of video games...keep the kids in the dark about this. :~) During the summer there is also free entertainment, like circus acrobats, concerts, etc.

http://www.beachboardwalk.com/

Enjoy.

Santa Cruz, CA
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4. Re: 1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

Best Asian food in Monterey is Roy's at Pebble Beach. This, however would break the bank. A dinner there for all of you with wine would run upwards of $350. Good second choice in Monterey is Hula's Island Grill on Lighthouse Ave. right near the Aquarium. There is also a Hula's Island Grill (same owners) in downtown Santa Cruz on Cathcart St for after the Boardwalk. Both offer primarily Hawaiian and Pacific Rim dinners that are ample in size and reasonably priced. they always have a good selection of fresh fish. The best Asian food in Santa Cruz can be found at the Malabar Cafe on Front St. in downtown Santa Cruz. It's all vegetarian Sri Lankan food. There you'll find dishes like corn dumplings in aromatic curry or the baked butternut squash ravioli with mushrooms, curry and and pesto. The service can be slow, but the food is heavenly!

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5. Re: 1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

If your going to be in Pajaro Dunes, for lunch or dinner try Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing. It is not Asian, and there is no table service, but it is always packed and the locals like it. If you like Cioppino which they are known for, you can take buckets to go and enjoy in the gorgeous home.

San Jose, California
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6. Re: 1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

If you are looking for South Asian, there is a great place in downtown Monterey called Ambrosia Bistro. If the weather is nice, they have a nice patio area out front.

Cary, North Carolina
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7. Re: 1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

Have you been told lately how awesome you are? Well I'm telling you. Thanks so much. This is great information.

Cary, North Carolina
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8. Re: 1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

Excellent!

Santa Cruz...
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9. Re: 1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

Have a great time !

Cary, North Carolina
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10. Re: 1st time in Santa Cruz - must dos and must sees must eats?

Do you have an opinion on Yummy Yummy in Sunset vs. Miss Saigon in Lower Tenderloin in SF, a party of 10, tourists?