One of my favorite places to head for on a day off is Santa Cruz, CA. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get there from Hayward. It is a great place to take kids, especially during the summer break when it’s hot outside and there’s nothing going on closer to home.
The Boardwalk (http://beachboardwalk.com/) is open daily after Memorial Day and through Labor Day Weekend. The beach is usually very crowded during the summer months, but never to the point that you can’t find a spot of your own. There are mini showers to wash of the sand once you’re ready to hit the boardwalk for some rides, food and arcade games.
Think old-fashioned fun like a ferris wheel, haunted house, deep fried Twinkies and corn dogs, and a dime toss. The best ride of all? The merry-go-round (and make sure to grab a horse on the outer rim). If you manage to snag the coveted outer-ring horses, you’ll have a shot at grabbing the metal rings that slide down a chute. Once you have a ring, throw it at the clown on the back wall and try to make it in the clown’s mouth. You’ll set off the ringer if you do and you’ll have bragging rights all day long.
If you’re tired of being out in the sun, or are looking for a little more upscale entertainment, head towards downtown (http://www.downtownsantacruz.com/index.php) for shopping, an amazing bookstore, Bookshop Santa Cruz (http://www.bookshopsantacruz.com/) and coffee shops, restaurants and a movie theater. For those looking for live music, check out the Catalyst Night club right in downtown on Pacific Avenue (catalystclub.com).
(photos by Mary Ayers)