Brandon and I had a quick getaway to one of our favorite underrated cities, Santa Cruz. We woke up bright and early on Thursday morning to pack and start our adventure up the coast of our beautiful state. On our way up, we stopped in Pismo Beach to grab lunch at the Splash Cafe for some fish & chips and clam chowder, which was the perfect grub to grab to hold us over as we continued our journey. We’ve been so lucky to have done this drive four times in the last five years, and every single time the view does not disappoint. Each twist and turn brought another view that took my breath away. This is our first time we’ve done this drive during the Spring though, and we definitely chose a great time to do it as California is in full bloom. Wildflowers were sprinkled all along the coast and it was so magnificent to see.
We made a stop to see one of my favorite bridges, the Bixby Bridge. Along our way up there, we watched as the marine layer rolled up and over the hills. Even though it blanketed the view, it was such a beautiful sight to see. This was the first time I saw the Bixby Bridge in this way. It was so hauntingly beautiful. The drive after the bridge was quiet and introspective (you can read what I was thinking about on this Instagram post). We checked into our darling Airbnb, and after resting a bit, we grabbed dinner at Real Thai Kitchen for some spicy fried rice and tofu pad see ew.
For this trip, I challenged myself to pack lightly. As an anxious overpacker (and a crazy mood dresser), I tend to bring 3-4 times as much clothes than I actually need in fear that I won’t want to wear what I packed. This time around, I actually planned out outfits and made a packing list. With some new additions this month, packing was easy since I was excited to wear my new (to me) items. I managed to pack clothes for Brandon and I in a small weekender bag for our three-day-two-night trip.
Here’s a quick list of what I packed:
- 3 pairs of shoes: Veja V10 Sneakers (thrifted); Nisolo Isla Slide Sandals; and Dolce Vita Espadrille Mules
- 3 tops: Sotela Lyla Crop 2.0; Madewell Linen Tank (thrifted); and Lou & Grey Cami (thrifted)
- 2 bottoms: Mien Studio pants; and Hackwith Design House Linen Pants (thrifted)
- 1 jumpsuit: Mien Lakeside Jumpsuit
- 1 jacket: Everlane Chore Jacket
- Accessories: Equal Uprise Black Traditional Fedora (gifted) and Clare V Petite Alice Bag (thrifted)
- Pajamas & Loungewear: Girlfriend Leggings and Madewell Sweatshirt
For once, I actually wore everything that I packed and it was enough to keep me comfortable for all the activities that we had planned. I’m hoping that this becomes the new norm for me when it comes to packing!
On Friday, our only full day in Santa Cruz, we woke up to grab breakfast at Cafe Brasil. This is one of our favorite restaurants EVER. We dream about eating here often when we’re not in Santa Cruz, and so when we are in the city, we make a point to eat here multiple times to get our fill in. We then grabbed coffee at Verve before taking in all the amazing nature that Santa Cruz has to offer. We went to the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to wonder at the redwood trees. We did the 1-mile loop twice to truly soak it all in. I left with a life goal to have a park bench with my name inscribed on it in a state park somewhere in California.
After spending some time in the forest, we headed back out to the coast to Seabright State Beach to try to catch the sunset. Unfortunately though, it was much too cloudy to see the sunset. We still stayed a little while to watch the waves crash and fall before grabbing dinner at Betty’s Burgers. We spent our last night in Santa Cruz in our Airbnb watching a movie with some microwaved popcorn and Reese’s Pieces, which is a win in my book.
We couldn’t leave Santa Cruz without one last meal at Cafe Brasil so we woke up Saturday morning to beat the brunch crowd and got our grub on. We then packed up our bag and made the trek down the coast back home. This time around, the Bixby Bridge was in full display, and I soaked in all the views for as long as I could. A theme in our conversations during our drive was just how much more we wished we were surrounded by nature. LA definitely has its perks, but nature isn’t quite one of them. Even with the nature that we do have (beaches and hiking trails), we don’t take advantage of them because of traffic (and well, laziness). We’re resolved to make more of a point to get out into nature more because we both realized just how calming it is for us to be in the midst of it. We also love how much it forces you to unplug and be present in the moment.
I don’t normally have any huge takeaways after traveling, other than that I need to do more of it, but this time, what really hit home for me was the importance of self care–and I don’t mean retail therapy or a bubble bath, but actually taking care of myself. I’m not one to take breaks, even when I need them and my body is screaming at me to rest. This has been the first school year that I haven’t taken more than a full day off of work (I’ve only taken two half-days), and it has taken quite a toll on my mind, body, and soul. As Brandon and I reminisced about doing this trip about three years ago, we talked about the things that seemed so important back then that have now been glossed over or forgotten. We realized that what we do remember are memories like the ones we made during this trip.
So while yes, more traveling is definitely something we want to do–I think we’re going to try to take care of ourselves better when we’re home in LA. We need to treat ourselves to meals at our favorite restaurants. We need to go to the beach, even if it’s hard to get there sometimes and parking is expensive. We need to go outside more.
Thank you Santa Cruz for the memories and for the lessons learned.