In the summer months on the west coast, one of my favorite excursions was Santa Cruz. It's where I first attempted getting on a surf board! Besides hitting the beach and the boardwalk, there are little gems in town too. Stay at the Dream Inn or Chaminade Resort. Stop for brunch at Walnut Avenue Cafe, stroll the shops and then hit up Soif Wine Bar or El Palomar for afternoon happy hour. And if you aren't afraid of the shark tales, you too can get surf lessons at Cowell's.