USA // California //

Santa Cruz

The quintessential California beach town, SANTA CRUZ, 75 miles south of San Francisco, is sited at the foot of thickly wooded mountains beside a clean sandy beach. With a strong leftover 1960s vibe, it’s not too touristy and roadside stands are more likely to sell apples or sprouts than postcards and trinkets. The highlight, the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, 400 Beach St (June–Aug open daily, rest of year Sat & Sun only; hours vary, often 11am–7pm; $3–5/ride, unlimited rides $37; w http://www.beachboardwalk.com), is one of the last surviving beachfront amusement parks on the West Coast, and features the 1924 Giant Dipper, a wild wooden roller coaster that doubles in the movies as a Coney Island ride.