Marianne's ice cream, Santa Cruz

Treat Yourself to Some Ice Cream

Surfer Museum at Santa Cruz.

It’s now been over 100 days in shelter-in-place. All of our summer plans have been scratched, or as we like to think of it: postponed. Even though we just sit at home every once in a while it is great to swap out walking around the block for going to the beach. You can’t really sit on the beach here, but walking along it and smelling salty air is worth the drive.

Inside Marianne's ice cream, Santa Cruz.

One of our favorite go-to spots is the path near the surfer museum in Santa Cruz. A long standing tradition after the walk is to stop by Marianne’s ice cream on Ocean St. Right now, you have to order on one side and pick up at the next window, or place on online order. Masks are required. I’m not sure if they give you a taste. With 80+ flavors I know it is hard to decide which to choose. Marianne’s ice cream has been around since 1947 – a true institution.

Sign at Marianne's ice cream, Santa Cruz, Curbside pick up here.

Marianne’s is open everyday from 10 am – 9 pm.

What’s your favorite ice cream place?

Have you ever been to It’s It Ice Cream in Burlingame? I wrote a post about it: Scream for Ice Cream

Let’s hear it for your favorite ice cream parlor in the comment section.

Boardwalk sign at Santa Cruz

Ride the rollercoaster on the boardwalk

For thrillseekers and beachgoers the Santa Cruz boardwalk is a great destination since 1907.  

A golem watching over the sky glider at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz.

There are more than 40 rides, something for every kind of rush seeker. The romantic gondola ‘Sky Glider’ and  the 1924 wooden roller coaster ‘The Giant Dipper’ are just examples of the variety of rides offered. 

Sky glider with a sign that says: deep fried underneath at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

On rainy days you can enjoy a game of bowling or mini-golf, or play some arcade games. The food rises to the occasion: soft serve ice cream, hot dog on a stick and pizza all classic accompaniments for your boardwalk experience are here.

Bands on the Beach stage, Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Tonight, August 30th, is the last Bands on the Beach event for this year. Papa Doo Run Run has the honor of ending the free concert series with two show (6:30 and 8:30). For the prime seating area reserve your seats as early as 4 pm. You might enjoy a nice picnic on the beach. If you bring chairs make sure they are low backs for the prime area. 

For the history buffs they put together a walking tour (

A lot of different events are happening on the boardwalk, so check before you go. Some events, like the overnights, can limit access to attractions.  

The boardwalk is open daily. Admission for the rides can be purchased in various forms. Day and season passes are available.

Have you been to the boardwalk?

Tide Pool group looking for swimming creatures

Look who’s swimming

As a kid I once did a Wattwanderung (mud-flats walking) when we stayed on Sylt, a Northern Sea island. When I signed up for our tide pool walk with the Marine Science Institute  I had the old images in my head of the creatures who appeared just as you pulled back the sand.

So, I was quite surprised to see the interesting rock formations that we walked on and explored. Not too rough a terrain, but you needed closed toe shoes, something that could get wet, and you needed to dress in layers.bucket full of hermit crabs and one shrimp

Rules for tide pooling are: Always watch your kids, and NEVER turn your back on the waves! And of course: Take only memories, leave only footprints.


We saw sea stars (below), a little black crab, a shrimp, and of course hermit crabs. Sea star eating something

Overall this was an exciting excursion. Our very knowledgeable tour guides from the Marine Science Institute brought buckets and nets and knew the names of the creatures and where to look. This made it a perfect day.



What was the coolest thing you’ve seen on the beach?

surfer heading out

The Maverick is here!

The date for the Titans of Mavericks  competition has been set for February 12th. This means 24 of the best high wave surfers are invited to compete off Pillar Point Harbor near Half Moon Bay. Due to restrictions you might not be able to watch them close up, but there will be viewing parties all around Half Moon Bay, since redbull TV is covering the event.

Thanks to El Nino waves up to 38 feet (11,5m)  are expected. Best to watch early in the morning. But I heard the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is ready to serve you at 8 am and will show the event on TV.

Hanging out with Elephant Seals

Hanging out with Elephant Seals

There are two options I am aware of to see elephant seals up close.
First is Año Nuevo State Park and also Piedras Bianca near San Simion.
In order to see the seals in Ano Nuevo you have to book a tour online that, if you want to pick times that suit you, you probably have to book about two weeks in advance. I think the $7 per person plus $10 for parking was well spent. On a 2 ½ hour hike we learned a lot about the seals and came up close to watch the little babies get nursed.

Piedras Bianca has a short, more accessible, walk up to a viewing point where a park ranger answers questions. Here no reservation is necessary but a donation is appreciated.  

Female elephant seal taking a rest at Año Nuevo State Beach.

January/February are probably the most visited months for the state park to see the elephant seals. Breeding season is from late December till early February. In March the adults leave their pubs behind. Yes! Imagine that. The pubs tech themselves to swim and will depart in April to swim up north.

Mature females will be somewhat pregnant after about 24 days after giving birth, they do a delayed implantation which means the fertilized egg will not be implanted in the wall of the uterus for another four month.

Another unbelievable fact is that the females don’t eat anything while they give birth, nurse and breed, and the males go without food for up to three months while they are on land mating.

Do you know of any other places to watch elephant seals in the Bay Area?



One of the things that amazes me around here is that every beach and the towns near those beaches are different.

The other day I took my in-laws to Capitola, a nice little beach town near Santa Cruz, California.
I’ve only been here once before with my family to enjoy the beach. That was during spring break. While it was entertaining to watch teenagers, the atmosphere was not too relaxing. This time is was a bit too cold for hanging around  at the beach.

Surfer in Capitola

While we watched some surfers we decided that it is proably a great spot to learn how to surf. The surf seem to slowly come in and giving you enough time to get ready.
We explored the little town with its cute shops. What stroke me as amazing was our lunch right next to the beach, a great meal with a beautiful view.

The Venetian Court
The Venetian Court

The colorful houses are the historic Venetian hotel  “The first Condominium Beach Community in the United States, built in 1924”.

What is your favorite beach in Northern California?