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Travel BLOG
February 24, 2015

Instagram Tour of Santa Cruz

#SantaCruzNow sunset shot by Instagram fan, @jasaiz #SantaCruzNow photo by Instagram fan, @jasaiz This post could have so many names...An ode to Instagram, Santa Cruz According to Instagram, Top Spots to Instagram in Santa get the picture. But instead, I'll just go with - Instagram Tour of Santa Cruz. These are photos sourced by Visit Santa Cruz fans who post photos using the hashtag, #SantaCruzNow, to share their favorite Santa Cruz places, moments & memories. So sit back, enjoy the Santa Cruz tour and be inspired by these must-see spots for your next visit! THE BEACH Let's face it, if you come to Santa Cruz County and don't make it to the beach, you're going to feel like you've missed out because, well, you have. With 29 miles of coastline varying from expansive sand to rugged cliffs, the beach is a must-see, and clearly, a must photograph. Photo by  @seeninsantacruz Photo by @seeninsantacruz REDWOODS One of the biggest draws for Santa Cruz above other coastal towns is this Surf City's ability to morph into a magical forested hideaway. Just a mere three miles from the beach are vast redwood forests that boast both beauty and history. Whether you're hiking, biking, driving, or steam train riding through these towering giants, you are sure to soak in the natural treasure bestowed upon Santa Cruz County. Photo by @jabelico Photo by @jabelico WHARF It's no surprise the Santa Cruz Wharf is a popular spot to take a photo or two. Between the Monterey Bay begging for a snapshot, the perfectly posed pelican on the rail or the playful sea lions battling for a spot on the pilings, you are bound to want to capture some memories. Photo by @raerays Photo by @raerays CAPITOLA VILLAGE Ahh, Capitola, where to begin? From the first colorful peek over the cliff's to seaside village you are bound to see what all the fuss is about. Quaint shops, dining with unbeatable views, beach access, and loads of charm, Capitola Village is sure to steal your heart. Photo by @ntrujillo66 Photo by @ntrujillo66 SEACLIFF When it comes to the perfect beach day, Seacliff State Beach has it all. You've got the iconic beauty, the SS Palo Alto, aka "the cement ship," that makes a perfect model for those Instagram filters, expansive beach, picnic areas, and these stairs that help get bodies in shape year 'round. Bonus: if there's too much to photograph in just one beach day, wake up seaside at Seacliff with the camping options available. Photo by @amandammarino Photo by @amandammarino BOARDWALK The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk needs little introduction or explanation on why it's so perfect to visit & photograph. This colorful seaside boardwalk has it all - rides, entertainment, games & over-the-top eats in a picture-perfect beachfront front location. Photo by @shearlockcombs Photo by @shearlockcombs SURF'S UP Santa Cruz has a Surf City reputation and its for good reason. This laidback town is the birthplace of mainland surfing in the United States and those surf culture roots can be seen around every corner. So whether you hop on a board, watch the surfers at Steamers Lane, or grab some shirts and memorabilia at a local surf shop, take a few photos along the way - after all, this is Surf Town USA. Photo by @grant_ly Photo by @grant_ly WEST CLIFF It's pretty much impossible to sum up West Cliff Drive's beauty in one, all inclusive photo. Between the Lighthouse/Surfing Museum, the iconic surf spot, Steamer Lane, coastal paths, beach nooks, and the surfer dude statue, there's just too much good stuff. It's no doubt a must-visit and must-photograph. Here's a little montage photo collage of some of the best of the best. BONUS: West Cliff is also dog-heaven so be sure to bring your pooch along. From top right, counter clockwise: Photo by @raerays, @visualaerials, @santacruz_dreaminn, @lindsey_13 From top left, clockwise: Photo by @raerays, @visualaerials, @lindsey_13, @santacruz_dreaminn HARBOR The Santa Cruz Harbor is a perfect spot to post up for the day. Whether you actually jump on a skiff or just enjoy watching the boats go by, the harbor makes for a beautiful backdrop. There also happens to be great restaurants and expansive beaches on either side of the harbor mouth, so whatever side you land on, you'll be in for a perfect beach day. Also, in the summer, take advantage of the free Water Taxi which makes it easy to hop around. And did we mention the Walton Lighthouse...because that happens to be a very popular photo op! Photo by @maitoza_nikon Photo by @maitoza_nikon NATURAL BRIDGES Natural Bridges State Beach is actually part of the West Cliff Drive narrative, but it has a fanbase all its own when it comes to photography. The famous and photogenic rock bridge is one of the most popular beach shots, but on top of that, Natural Bridges is also the seasonal home to thousands of migrating monarch butterflies and boasts some fantastic tide pools begging to be explored - and photographed. Photo by @westcoastdarling Photo by @westcoastdarling BITES When scrolling through Santa Cruz food themed photos you can quickly make a few assumptions about the Santa Cruz food and drink scene: 1) Santa Cruz has amazing artisan coffees and treats, 2) There's abundance of fresh & local finds, 3) there's gallons and gallons of craft beers, 4) there are loads of restaurants with amazing views, and 5) you can eat a burrito with an ocean front view whenever you please. Photo by @befreegray Photo by @befreegray DOWNTOWN Downtown Santa Cruz is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike with boutiques, theaters, art, unique coffee shops, excellent dining, and a weekly farmers market that will give you a whole new definition of term. (Think brick oven pizzas, handmade ice creams, local meats and sausages & artisan breads along with all the farm fresh fruits and veggies). The walkable downtown has some interesting architecture that Instagrammers love, so take a stroll along Pacific Avenue and snap a few unique views along the way. Photo by @emtallen Photo by @emtallen SUNSETS Last, but definitely not least, one of the most, if not THE most, popular things to photograph in Santa Cruz is the setting sun. There's just something about the sun dipping below the ocean horizon that seems to captivate each and every person that visits. Photo by @malynsc Photo by @malynsc Hopefully this post leaves you feeling inspired and ready to share some photos on your next Santa Cruz County visit! And for those who use the hashtag, #SantaCruzNow, keep it up! We love seeing Santa Cruz through your lens!


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    Everytime I go to California to visit my cousins I always go from Saratoga on HWY 9 thru Big Basin all the way Santa Cruz and the area around it!

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