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Celebrating the Old in Santa Cruz

Backpacking with a Book

Once people stop celebrating the old — be it buildings, history, or culture — they cease to exist. Many places are guilty of this disappearing act. But Santa Cruz is different. The city’s vibrant culture is centered on its past. Santa Cruz is liberated, liberating, accommodating, and hip. And true to its Californian spirit, this is the coast where eccentric personalities meet millionaires, where surfers and Rastafarians are friends with old-money locals. Here are five vintage destinations that celebrate the past in Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz Harbor Walton Lighthouse: Where Light Guides

Image via Flickr by donjd2

Constructed in 1964, Santa Cruz Harbor Walton Lighthouse has become a favorite stop in this coastal city. It stands proud, charming, yet unobtrusive on the fridges of Seabright Beach. You can’t miss this landmark located at the entrance to the harbor. Take a walk near the lighthouse in the early morning or late afternoon to witness the dance of the light on the horizon behind it.

Santa Cruz Wharf: Where Time Is Warped

Built in 1914, Santa Cruz Wharf has come a long way from simply being a dock of potato-filled containers. The longest wharf on the West Coast, it houses restaurants, gift shops, bars, and those awfully cute sea lions — the true residents of the wharf. Walk to the famed pier from one of the many nearby hotels, then take photos and stuff yourself with Santa Cruz’s goodness. With so many happenings on the wharf, you’ll barely feel the passing of time.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk Amusement Park: Where Nobody Has a Bad Day 

The family-owned Santa Cruz Boardwalk Amusement Park has delighted generations of park-goers. While other amusement parks succumbed to quick money, Santa Cruz’s remains faithful to tradition. Old-time and old-school favorites still run, be it the Red Baron, Dino the Dinosaur, and the Giant Dipper. It’s currently the sole major seaside amusement park on the West Coast.

Felton Covered Bridge: Where Old Age Remains Regal

Built in 1892, the Felton Covered Bridge remains intact and regal despite the passing of years. This California Historical Landmark is the tallest covered bridge in the country and served as the main entrance into Felton for 45 years. Walk the paths surrounding the bridge, or enjoy a picnic nearby. its brown truss design also makes a lovely background for photo shoots.

The Buttery Cafe & Bakery: Where Delicacies Become Staples

Every morning, the aroma of freshly baked goodies wafts through the neighborhood. Buttery Cafe and Bakery, which has been a staple for many locals since 1984, prides itself on perfecting its cakes and pastries over the years. The cafe has a wide array of offerings you can sample — from the sinful chocolate cake to the best-selling croissants. If you’re looking to grab breakfast or lunch, find a seat in the café and order something off the locally sourced menu.

What makes Santa Cruz a hit among travelers and locals alike is how it’s fostered the old over the years. Santa Cruz nourishes and preserves its vintage feel.

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Jona | Backpacking with a Book

Hi, I'm Jona! I write stories and poetry and take a lot of photos, which I'm too lazy to upload. If you want to receive some photos that I don't share here on the blog, please leave your email here. I'm crazy about cats too. Feel free to browse through BWAB, and I would love it if you say hi! For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at backpackingwithabook@gmail.com For more stories about BWAB, check here. Connect with us through

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