45 minutes from San Jose: Hit the beach in Santa Cruz
1PM: On your way to the ocean, swing by the Swift Street Courtyard. Some of the Santa Cruz Mountains’ best wineries have set up tasting rooms here, including Bonny Doon Vineyard ($$$; closed Mon–Tue; 328 Ingalls St.; 831/425-6771), with its upscale cafe―perfect for a “light” lunch of, say, spring goat, carrot quinoa, and smashed peas and shoots.
For something more casual, Kelly’s French Bakery ($; 402 Ingalls, Ste. 19; 831/423-9059) has crisp salads and patio tables.
5PM: Grab a candy sucker from the lobby of the retro-chic Santa Cruz Dream Inn, and head out for a sunset stroll along cypress-lined West Cliff Drive, where wetsuit-clad surfers (of, impressively, all ages) tackle some serious waves.
At Aquarius, the hotel’s window-walled restaurant, begin with an artful cocktail, then try the roasted halibut in a Pernod-tomato broth swimming with mussels and chorizo. From $189, restaurant $$$; 831/426-4330.
8AM: Wake up with a view of the Pacific from your pillow, dunk in the heated outdoor pool, then head back to Aquarius for what has to be the best huevos rancheros north of the border.
10AM: If watching paddleboarders glide on glassy water leaves you itching to give it a go, rent a board (and instructor) across the street at Cowell’s Surf Shop. $80 for gear and lesson; 30 Front St.; 831/427-2355.