Santa Clause then Santa Cruz

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Holiday Season – but today I needed to replace peppermint and pine scents with the fresh outdoors and turn down the Christmas music to hear the soundtrack of the oceans crashing against the shore.

Living in San Jose puts us at the base of the Santa Cruz mountains and just minutes from the California Coast!

This year I have really pushed myself to disconnect from social media and spend that time outside instead. Earlier this morning (while getting my hip flexors aligned – ouch) at my physical therapists, I learned about a state park with relatively flat and short trails in Santa Cruz that I immediately put on my To Do list for the day – Natural Bridges State Beach!

Fast forward 3o(ish) minutes and I was down in Santa Cruz looking for parking and peddling out along West Cliff drive – watching the surfers brave the cold water and taking in a calm stroll tracing the coast.

 If you haven’t driven along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, it’s 10 minutes that will make you feel like you’re in the “California” they talk about in movies. There are plenty of break offs and cliffs that allow for picture perfect moments and some pretty spectacular views.

If you head to the North tip of West Cliff Drive, you’ll come to the entrance to Natural Bridge State Park – and there’s a fee to park – unless you’re on a bike, then entrance is free! This is where the actual “natural bridges” stand out as mother natures monuments set just of the shore.

Today was bright and sunny in the mid 60’s which which made for a perfect day to be outside and at the beach. In a perfect world, swimming weather would have made it even better – but to be outside wearing shorts two-days after Christmas isn’t too bad!

Like I mentioned earlier, there are a ton of great views along West Cliff – and don’t be afraid to pose for a selfie… you’ll be in great company as I almost ran into a dozen people standing in the middle of the walkways and sidewalks taking selfies oblivious to the fact that other people needed to pass (at least I step away from the path of traffic to take selfies – because that makes selfies less terrible).

I’m less than 30 minutes from Santa Cruz and guilty of not visiting here more often. I hate that it usually takes having guests visiting from out of town to get me out there – so I’m grateful for days like today when I can enjoy whats I’m my backyard(ish).

The biggest selling point of Santa Cruz, isn’t the fact that its the beach.. or that its mountains… But it’s the fact that it’s the best of both worlds! I’m excited to get back here to see more of Santa Cruz! I already have a few more trails in mind set deeper in the mountains. Any other beginner mountain bikers up for a challenge?!?!

Thank you, Santa Cruz – it was a great afternoon and I’m sure I’ll be back soon!

And if you’re wondering what the Natural Bridge State Park looks like… You’re gonna have to make the trip and see for yourself – because I forgot to take pictures after I got sand in my shoes and had to carry my bike through the sand (whoops).

If you know a thing or two about Santa Cruz or have trail (or food) recommendations send them my way!