staycation


Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk tips during summer vacation

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wearing: squared hoop earrings / sunglasses / summer lipstick / olive green henley tee / summer nail polish / handbag / snake buckle belt / jeans / black mule espadrilles /

One of my kids favorite summer activities is heading over to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. While we enjoy going during the off-season in order to avoid the crowds, there is something nostalgic and fun about going in the thick of summer vacation. Of course, when we go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk during the summer months, we still know how to avoid the crowds. So if you are planning a trip to the Boardwalk, here a few tips so you can visit and enjoy the area like a local.

How to visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk like a local

  1. Go early: Never ever ever go to the boardwalk after lunch. The whole world shows up between 1pm and 4pm. Always go when they open at 11am so you can hit all the fun rides before the lines get long.
  2. Get a wristband: Don’t bother counting points, get the all day wristband so you can freely enjoy going on all the rides, and going on your favorite rides multiple times in a row. If you are local and plan to visit multiple times during the year, consider getting the season pass.
  3. Go on a weekday: If you can avoid heading to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on a weekend or national holiday-do it! The best time to go is on a weekday, more specifically, on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Those are the slowest days, with the shortest lines. If you must go on a weekend, go early at 9am and enjoy brunch at a local spot such as The Picnic Basket or the Beach Street Cafe.
  4. Take the train: If you can’t go first thing in the morning, or you want to have some fun, take the Roaring Camp Railroad train to the boardwalk from Felton. It’s a fun way to get there, plus you don’t have to navigate traffic during peak hours.
  5. Rides first, arcade later: The lines for the rides are usually longer than the ones for the arcade or mini-golf. Hit all the rides first, before the crowds arrive, then go inside for the arcade after lunch. You can go inside when the temperatures start to soar, plus avoid all the long lines at the rides. Mini-gold indoors is also quite fun!
  6. Stay for the show: The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk also has amazing concerts. Enjoy the boardwalk and the games first, then relax on the beach near the stage so you can enjoy the concert at night. You can make a day of it!
  7. Leave before everyone: If you are not staying for the concert, go back over the hill around 2pm-3pm. Once 4pm hits the traffic builds up and it’s beach traffic galore. Go early, leave early, and you will have an enjoyable ride.

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One of the rides you can’t skip when visiting the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the historic carousel. It’s a beautiful and fun carousel installed in Santa Cruz in 1911. It’s a National Historic Landmark, and it has it’s own Wikipedia page! It’s one of the oldest surviving rides on the west coast, and it’s a must-do! Don’t miss the roller coaster either, it too is historic, and from 1924.

Shop my Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk look:

Enjoy your trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk! If you have been before, what is your favorite ride? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO
Cathy

santa cruz beach


Things to do in Chinatown San Francisco with kids

chinatown san francisco things to do in chinatown with kids

My San Francisco street style: blue plastic hoop earrings / lipstick / blue scarf (other colors avl)  / black faux fur coat / black tee / small PVC tote / skinny jeans / spring nail polish / plastic bracelets (hidden by coat) / street sneakers (so comfy!)

It’s ski week! My husband has a big conference this week at work, so he wasn’t able to take time off for a family vacation. Instead, we are having a staycation! When I was a kid, my mom always took me into the city to explore, shop, and get out of Marin. She grew up in San Francisco, so she has always preferred it to the suburbs. My husband grew up in the Bay Area too, so he also has many memories of heading into the city with his family. Ours kids always have such busy schedules, so it is a rare occasion that we can throw everyone in the car and drive an hour north into San Francisco; but we did it!

My mom always took me to Chinatown as a kid. We loved getting dim sum, shopping in the stores, and walking up and down the streets. She always knew which jewelry stores had good deals, and which ones to stay away from. I have such fond memories of spending time here with my mom growing up. I am so happy we can pass those memories along to our children!

There are so many fun things to do in Chinatown San Francisco with kids. Of course, to fully enjoy everything Chinatown has to offer, it is best to time your trip correctly; or you could end up in a giant mob of tourists. I’m going to give you some tips so you can enjoy San Francisco’s Chinatown just like a native San Franciscan.

How to enjoy Chinatown like a local

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When you visit San Francisco, the best time to go is when other people are not going. Ski week in February is a great time because all the locals are in Tahoe, and the tourists don’t think to visit. The hotels are less expensive, and everything is a lot less crowded. As long as you don’t mind 50 degree weather, February is a fabulous time to visit San Francisco. October, November, January, and March are great times too.

If you cannot visit during the off-season, always hit the tourist spots on a weekday. All the locals from the suburbs come in on the weekends, in addition to the tourists, making Saturday and Sunday almost unbearable during the busy season. I want you to enjoy our beautiful city!

Arrive early: The early bird catches the worn for a reason! My mom taught me from an early age to always get into the city before the stores open. Once 10am hits, the whole world appears on city streets. If you can get into the city before 10am, you will park easily, and maneuver around a lot easier; especially if you would like to check out the city’s street art.

Chinatown street art

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The street art in Chinatown is always evolving. This dragon wall mural is absolutely stunning, but it sits one block above where a staircase used to be painted with really cool quotes. You can see it in this 2017 post. My kids always love those stairs, so it was one of our first stops when we arrived in Chinatown. Alas, they were painted over with grey paint. Thankfully we looked up and saw this beautiful dragon mural! Fingers crossed it doesn’t get hit with graffiti!

In addition to the dragon mural on Grant Ave., there are many other murals on side streets off Grant. If you like to snap photos for the ‘Gram, this will be your heaven. In the photo at the bottom of this page, you can see part of another mural on the corner of Grant and Sacramento.

You will also find carvings, statues, and other forms of art throughout Chinatown. Many of it will be reflective of the Chinese culture, while other works are local American/San Franciscan art. In addition to art, there are always red lanterns strung across the street. They are so pretty!

Of course, you can’t spend your entire day looking at street art. One of the must-do’s in Chinatown is to eat dim sum! My absolute, hands-down favorite dim sum restaurant is Peninsula Seafood. They are located one block off Grant on Jackson. Go early like a local! If you arrive before 11am you have more of a chance of grabbing a table without waiting too long. On a busy summer day, expect to wait an hour for a table. If you arrive when there is a wait, it is worth it! The food is delicious. They have the best Har Gow, and Shu Mai-be sure to eat them!

You cannot visit Chinatown, or San Francisco in general, without checking out the Cable Car Museum. It is located at 1201 Mason street. Again, go early when they open around 10am. It is a tourist attraction and can get super busy. It’s a short visit, but the kids will love it; and you will too!

Do you like fortune cookies? The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory is a must-see when you visit Chinatown San Francisco. You can see how fortune cookies are made, and you can eat them too! Yum! It’s very touristy, and as locals, we only go once in our lifetime on our own-we also go when someone is visiting from out of town. That being said, you have to go at least once in your lifetime; and the kids will love it! After all, kids love fortune cookies-and us adults do too. haha. It’s located at 56 Ross Alley.

Lastly, you cannot go into Chinatown without shopping! Look for cheap jade (which is usually dyed but who cares), inexpensive jewelry, cheap fans, and decor. It’s a fun place to find Chinese decor, jewelry, and clothing, which is inexpensive. If a store seems expensive, skip it. You can buy expensive jewelry and clothing elsewhere; the stores in Chinatown are for tourists. Look for bargains and things priced under $20. The kids will love getting a souvenir-and you might too!

Have a blast when you visit Chinatown in San Francisco! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO
Cathy

things to do in chinatown with kids