This beach town is at its best when summer’s sun has set

Lisa Taggart

The butterfly world has known for centuries that Santa Cruz is a great place to spend the winter. Every year about this time, thousands of monarch butterflies flit up from Mexico to the beachside eucalyptus groves in Santa Cruz.

What draws them has been called a scientific mystery―but we think it might be some of the same factors that make the town such a nice spot for wintering humans. With summer crowds gone, it’s prime time for beach strolling. Plus, Santa Cruz’s downtown is packed with great restaurants and shops.

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So take a nod from the insects and head to Santa Cruz, 70 miles south of San Francisco. Watch the waves, sip some wine, and welcome the town’s annual winged visitors.

Santa Cruz lodging

Babbling Brook Inn. Thirteen rooms by a 1-acre garden near downtown. From $130. 1025 Laurel St.; (800) 866-1131, (831) 427-2437, or www.babblingbrookinn.com.

Cliff Crest Bed & Breakfast Inn. Lovely renovated Victorian with five rooms above the boardwalk. From $175. 407 Cliff St.; (831) 427-2609. 

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