Santa Cruz Vacation OK for 3 yr old?

Mar 29th, 2006, 06:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 6
Santa Cruz Vacation OK for 3 yr old?

We are thinking of renting a house in Santa Cruz (probably in August) for one week and bringing our 3 year old and baby, and possibly 1 set of grandparents. Any suggestions to areas of town or nearby towns that are best suited to our group (i.e. Capitola? Aptos?) What are the best beaches for small children? The town seems to me to have something to offer everyone. Or am I way off base?
Is it easy to get to SF to a ball game, or does the heavy peninsula traffic make that unrealistic?
Can the locals give input to me as to public parks with pools and playground equipment?
Thanks for any and all input!
alliesmom is offline  
Mar 29th, 2006, 08:17 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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I can't give you the inside scoop on the city parks and playgrounds. Capitola is a very friendly little town with a busy, sunny beach and restaurants, shops, ice cream, etc. right there.
The coast in the area of San Francisco isn't necessarily sunny all of the time, but Capitola is a good bet for the most sun.
The water is always chilly, and anyway it is much to rough for little children to play in.
It is probably not worth the drive to see a ball game. It is not impossible, though. Would take an hour and a half each way with no major traffic issues. It is not a difficult route to follow.

If you don't have to be in the Santa Cruz area, you would probably have a lot more fun in Santa Barbara or South with more sun and warmer water.

However, Capitola is a lot of fun and very playful. It does feel like you are on vacation there!
cabovacation is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 10:44 AM
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Dear alliesmom:

While growing up, we went to the Santa Cruz area for vacation every summer. I have fond memories of it. I think it would be great for your kids. We usually stayed in SC or in Seacliff(near Aptos). Plus, the SC Boardwalk has a kiddy section.

Good luck.
MichelleY is online now  
Mar 30th, 2006, 12:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I think Santa Cruz is a great place for kids. Alcohol is prohibited on the beach, so you don't have the same party atmosphere you have in some other places. It helps keep things pretty laid back.

Capitola Village has a nice beach with a cute neighborhood of shops and restaurants right there.

The Boardwalk, as someone already mentioned has kids and family rides. Plus it is right on the beach.

The water at all of the beaches is great for wading, but generally too cold and rough for swimming with little ones. The kids will have a fabulous time playing in the sand though.

I also second the recommendation for Seacliff Beach. There is a nice paved walkway along the beach, and even on a busy day there is plenty of beach to go around.

In addition to the beaches, there are some other great things to see and do. The Santa Cruz mountains are great - plenty of parks with hiking, picnicing, and so on. Lots of redwoods. With kids, Roaring Camp is always a good choice. They have a steam train tour through the woods. You can also head down to Monterey or go north along the coast for some great beachcombing beaches that are hardly ever crowded.

Out on the wharf there are generally a bunch of sealions hanging out underneith, which are always a big hit with kids.

Thinking of public parks - we always liked Frederick Street park which is above the harbor. We also liked the park at the end of Ocean View Ave. Neary Lagoon is always a good bet with kids because there are lots of ducks there - I don't remember any play structures.
J_Correa is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 03:33 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,149
I live in Santa Cruz. Agree will all of the above, except for sending you to So. Calif.<g>) J Correa has it nailed. The Beach Boardwalk has an antique carousel with the original organ which children love. There are also kiddie rides in a special area.

When my grandchildren come to visit, their dad takes us all to a small beach near the Yacht Harbor, behind the Crow's Nest restaurant. It is somewhat protected and has rocks to climb on. (When he lived at home, he was a beach bum, so he knows the places.) But, if you rent a beach home you will have the beach right in front of you.

I think you will all enjoy downtown Santa Cruz, with a pretty tree-lined main street (the trees are in bloom right now) with boutiques, coffee places, two ice cream stores, restaurants, sidewalk cafes, a nine-plex theatre.

You might enjoy a little drive up the hill to the University campus. It is 2500 acres of meadows and redwoods, with individual colleges scattered around, and historic buildings from when it was the Henry Cowell Ranch and limestone quarry. The views of the Bay from there are spectacular.

We go to Giants games at SBC (or is it now AT&T?)Park all the time. If you take the right route you won't run into heavy traffic. (Hwy 17 to Hwy 85 to Hwy 280 (the latter are freeways) then stay on that until you are in the city and see the exit for the park. It's marked.)

To begin with, find the website of Bailey Property Management (they are also a realtor). They handle much of the vacation house rental here. Another is Kendall Potter.

It won't hurt to begin this early for best choice.

Good luck. If I can supply more information, please let me know.
jtrandolph is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 06:28 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
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Thanks to all who have replied so far! Very helpful. We live in So Cal, so I'd like to avoid staying down here. The houses i'm considering are in the Opal Cliffs area; Seascape/Aptos; and West Cliff Drive (many are already booked). Thoughts on these locations? I've heard Seacliff, Natural Bridges and Seascape are among the better beaches for kids (to play, not swim).
alliesmom is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 06:33 PM
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I like Seacliff (I think Seascape is near there), and actually Capitola city beach is good for kids to play.
Mar 31st, 2006, 03:16 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,149
West Cliff Drive beaches require taking steps down to the beach, and they are not very expansive. Natural Bridges is a State Park and you pay to get in. The Seacliff and Seascape areas I can recommend. I am not exactly sure where Opal Cliffs is.
jtrandolph is offline  

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