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Markets, Shopping, Art Centers in Santa Cruz

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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a classic seaside amusement park located along a beautiful sandy beach in a friendly beach town. The Boardwalk features more than 40 rides and attractions including two National Historic Landmarks: the world-famous 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and the beautiful 1911 Looff Carousel, plus many scream-inducing thrill rides, gentle kiddie rides, casual restaurants, gift shops, games, indoor arcades, and miniature golf.
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Marine Discovery Center
The Seymour Marine Discovery Center offers hands-on immersion into the world of ocean exploration and discovery. With a 20,000-square-foot visitor center, guests can touch a shark, explore the latest discoveries in ocean science, and take in the spectacular Monterey Bay, called the “Serengeti of the sea,” for its incredible diversity of marine life. Powered by the Long Marine Laboratory, a world-renowned university research facility, our exhibit hall offers a deeper dive into the fascinating and varied work of scientists studying the oceans here in Santa Cruz and around the world.
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Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden
At this 135-acre outdoor, living museum, you can also explore the Hummingbird Trail to seek out the rare, elusive white hummingbird, and sniff pleasing scents of lavender, jasmine, and oregano in the fun Aroma Garden. The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden’s rich and diverse collection contains representatives of more than 300 plant families of Mediterranean climates. The garden maintains collections of rare and threatened plants of unusual scientific interest. Particular specialties are world conifers, primitive angiosperms, and bulb-forming plant families. Large assemblages of plants from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and California natives are displayed on the grounds. Many of the species in these collections are not otherwise available for study in American botanical gardens and arboreta.
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Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History (SCMNH) has been connecting people to the wonders of nature for over 100 years. Located above Seabright Beach, the Museum highlights the region’s diverse plant, animal, and human communities from the shoreline of Monterey Bay to the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains. We strive to fulfil our mission to connect people to nature and inspire stewardship of the natural world through an array of educational programs and exhibits focused on the natural and cultural history of the region.
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Roaring Camp Railroads
Travel over trestles, through towering redwood groves and up a winding narrow-gauge grade to the summit of Bear Mountain as conductors narrate the history of Roaring Camp, the railroad and the forest. In the 1880s, narrow-gauge steam locomotives were used to haul giant redwood logs out of the mountains. Roaring Camp's steam engines date from 1890 and are among the oldest and most authentically preserved narrow-gauge steam engines providing regularly scheduled passenger service in America.
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Mount Hermon Adventures
Mount Hermon Adventures has grown immensely since it began and has become an internationally recognized provider of adventure experiences and team development programs. They now operate the world-famous Redwood Canopy Tours, multiple aerial adventure courses, intentional Team Building programs, and provide Mount Hermon overnight guests with mountain biking, surfing, sea kayaking, target sports, aquatic facilities, paint ball, skate park and more. Guests experience Mt. Hermon's core values of quality, authenticity and inspiration with the final goal of living a transformed life.
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Winchester Mystery House
Featured by Good Morning America in 2010, this is the house that Sarah, the troubled Winchester rifle heiress, built. Seeking a way to rid herself of the spirits of those killed by the “Gun that Won the West” Sarah sought the advice of a medium. That consultation resulted in Sarah spending decades, as well as her $20 million inheritance, obsessively building onto the house. But what a house it is and don't miss the gardens and grounds either. Spooky? Yes, but beautiful from the wood work to the stained glass. Flashlight tours on Friday the 13th and during October are a trick and a treat, while the Victorian spirit is alive in special light during the December holiday season.
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Santana Row
Santana Row features a vibrant mix of over 50 shops, 30 restaurants, CineArts movie theatre, and the boutique Hotel Valencia. With your pick of dining options, everything from burgers and Italian to Asian fusion and French, you'll have plenty of choice’s to refuel while shopping at The Row’s top stores including Madewell, Ted Baker, H&M, Anthropologie, kate spade new york, Gucci, Tommy Bahama, lululemon athletica, Boutique Harajuku and Sephora just to name a few. Plus, catch live music and outdoor yoga classes in Santana Row Park and enjoy plentiful parking all within walking distance.
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Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium was founded in 1984 and is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row. It holds thousands of plants and animals, representing more than 600 species on display. Sea life on exhibit includes stingrays, jellyfish, sea otters, sea horses, and numerous other native marine species, which can be viewed above and below the waterline. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of very few in the world to exhibit both bluefin and yellowfin tuna, and is one of the few aquariums to successfully care for the ocean sunfish in captivity. The centerpiece exhibit in the aquarium is a 1,200,000-U.S.-gallon Open Sea exhibit, which features one of the world's largest single-paned windows. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has attracted more than 47 million visitors and has won awards for its exhibits, architecture, and cultural and educational impacts.
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San Jose McEnery Convention Center
Located in the Downtown core with its own parking garage, the Convention Center boasts 372,754 sq. ft. of total space, is connected to two hotels, is within walking distance of 5 additional hotels, multiple visual and performing arts facilities and an abundance of restaurants. The Center and its surroundings are connected by public transportation including Light Rail, Caltrain and free Downtown shuttle and is home to popular public events like Fanime, The Silicon Valley Auto Show and the Harvest Festival. The Center also houses its own UPS store able to meet a multitude of shipping, packing, notary and printing needs Monday-Saturday.
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Happy Hollow Park and Zoo
Located in Kelley Park in San Jose, Happy Hollow Park and Zoo has been providing affordable family entertainment, education and fun since 1961. The Park is a peaceful, creative and safe place for children of all ages, with the main focus on “little ones” between the ages of 2-10. There are creative play areas, children’s rides, hand puppet and marionette shows, special events, and birthday areas. Learn about wildlife up close during daily meet-and-greets, leap like a lemur on the playground, brush and feed the goats, or take a peek inside Doc’s Critter Care building and the Ranch House. Double-H Ranch features a combination of animal exhibits, including giant anteaters and red ruffed lemurs, as well chickens and domesticated animals that are docile enough to touch.
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San Pedro Square Market
The San Pedro Square Market is the Downtown San Jose meet-up place for foodies, music lovers, locally-made shop supporters, demanders of coffee perfection, history seekers, old-time barbershop hunters, social media followers, and wine and beer libation imbibers.
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Raging Waters
Whether you are visiting for your first time or your 50th, Raging Waters Los Angeles is the best place to go for endless summer fun! As the largest water park in California, there are tons of rides and slides for the whole family.
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Flea Market
Shopping at the San Jose Flea Market is about more than the search for the best bargain in town. Of course, bargain hunting is a large part of the thrill of visiting this place, but the experience is brought to a new level as you enjoy a delicious scoop of ice cream, sip on a cold beverage, or simply relax on a bench while you listen to live music. The selection of goods for sale is so varied that you're sure to get lost in your search for items on your shopping list—especially considering the market spans 120 acres. You'll find organic produce, electronics, and more.
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California's Great America
Fill your day with roller coasters, live shows, concerts, fireworks, amusement park food favorites and even a water park at the iconic California's Great America. Thrills for every age are ready to rock your world and run you ragged. New rides and attractions are introduced every year and special events like the nightmarish Halloween Haunt are looked forward to by the tens of thousands! Get your walking shoes ready and practice your screaming, there's a lot to cover on this adrenaline rush of an outing!
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Lick Observatory
On the forefront of astronomical research since 1888 (before there was even a road up Mount Hamilton) the Lick Observatory is nothing short of an icon, with its foundation set firmly in Silicon Valley innovation and technological prowess. Beyond the stunning views from 4,209 feet above the valley, the brilliant history of how these giant telescopes were even dreamed up (let along how they came to be) and the mind blowing discoveries that have taken place with them, just being able to see light years away through the lens is enough to send one into orbit. Add in tours, music series, lectures by leading researchers doing cutting edge work, and other special events and you have one of the most unique and powerful experiences of the city.
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Fort Funston Beach
Another San Francisco beach located near an old fort. Fort Funston a rugged beach with crashing surf at the bottom of 200 foot cliffs, just south of Ocean Beach. Very popular with dogs, as well. When the winds are blowing, you'll see hang gliders soaring from the cliff tops.
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Japantown
San Francisco's Japantown is a fun place to explore, but not that many visitors go there. Three indoor malls, and a pedestrian-only block, are lined with a fascinating variety of authentic Japanese shops and restaurants.
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Chinatown
San Francisco's Chinatown is the oldest one in North America and covers 24 city blocks. This neighborhood is one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco, and for good reason. It's easy to spend a day here, exploring the streets and alleys, browsing the shops and enjoying the authentic Chinese food. More people visit Chinatown than the Golden Gate Bridge!
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Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is the grand-daddy of San Francisco beaches, stretching out for three miles along the entire western edge of San Francisco. This wide, flat expanse of sand is the best beach for long walks or a run. It's also the most popular, which means lots of people on our warm, sunny days. This is a great surfing beach, and dogs can be off-leash in certain parts.
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San Francisco Cable Cars
Cable cars are a historic symbol recognized around the globe and offer real working transportation up the steep hills of San Francisco. The cable cars begin their runs at 6 a.m. and continue until midnight. From Union Square to the crest of Nob Hill, cable cars offer a thrilling way to move with the City. A ride on San Francisco’s cable cars may be the most iconic and memorable of your entire trip to California. Even people who might dismiss cable cars as a cheesy tourist attraction will admit that there is something incredibly romantic about these rides.
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Pier 39
Pier 39 is located on the San Francisco waterfront near the Fisherman’s Wharf area of the city and is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to California. The pier is home to many great restaurants offering local seafood as well as other cuisines. If shopping is your thing you will find 90+ stores offering everything from souvenirs to sports memorabilia. Pier 39 is also where you can find fun and exciting attractions such as the Aquarium of the Bay and the 7D experience. If you walk to the end of Pier 39 and visit K-Dock you will find the world famous sea lions who have made the pontoons their home. The sealions first appeared after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and began taking over the piers on the Pier 39 marina, much to the annoyance of the marina tenants. After numerous attempts to shoo them away they eventually had to give up and the numbers grew and grew reaching a peak of over 1500 in 2009. Today they have become one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco and have their own area of Pier 39. While there why not pay a visit to the Marine Mammal Center just upstairs from the viewing area where you can learn more about the sea lions and pick up some sea lion related souvenirs.
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Fisherman's Wharf
As San Francisco’s most popular visitor destination, Fisherman’s Wharf offers a wide range of land, sea, and air activities. A food lover's haven, Fisherman's Wharf boasts some of the best dining in the world. Salivate over fresh Dungeness crab served steaming hot at outdoor stands or in a variety of gourmet recipes at the Wharf’s many seafood restaurants. The Wharf's eclectic mix of international cuisine is sure to make a hit with your taste buds.
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Aquatic Park Cove
Aquatic Park Cove has a narrow sandy beach and a grass park at the end of the Hyde Street Cable Car line on the San Francisco Waterfront. The cove is located at the north end of Hyde Street and Van Ness Avenue near Fisherman’s Wharf. Boats are allowed to anchor in the protected harbor in the cove. It is protected by a long curved municipal pier that should not be missed if you have time to walk out on it. The view from the pier includes the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the San Francisco skyline. Nearby Hyde Street Pier has historic ships to see as well. The Marine Museum sits at the center of Aquatic Park Cove near the beach. Behind that is Ghirardelli Square. Aquatic Park Cove is part of San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, a district within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The large park at Fort Mason is a short walk away up the trail to the west.
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Baker Beach
Baker Beach is a large popular beach not far from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. On sunny weekends both parking lots could be full and all the spaces along the entrance roads too. This popular spot is one of the many beaches in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Just north of the main parking lot is the Battery Chamberlin, a large historic military gun installation that was built in 1904. It is worth checking out especially if you have kids. Be aware as you explore the north end of Baker Beach because North Baker Beach is a clothing-optional area. All of Baker Beach is an unsafe swimming area because of cold water and frequent rip currents in the surf.
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Mile Rock Beach
At the western tip of San Francisco, jutting out into ocean, is Lands End: a nature park of steep cliffs with beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. It has a small, rocky beach, called Mile Rock Beach, accessible from the Coastal Trail. Wonderful beach to walk to.
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Crissy Field East Beach
Just inside the Golden Gate, Crissy Field has a wide, sandy beach with a pretty view of the bridge and Alcatraz. It's a short, 10 minute walk from Fisherman's Wharf. Of the San Francisco beaches, this one's the most popular with windsurfers.
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Great Valley Museum
The GVM home is the first floor of the Science Community Center on the west campus of Modesto Junior College. Our museum focuses on the natural history and various habitats of the Central Valley of California.
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Aerospace Museum of California
The Aerospace Museum of California is one of aviation's greatest showcases with over 40 military and civilian aircraft and a world-class engine exhibit. Located 15 minutes from Cal Expo, the Museum has STEM activities from building block competitions and scavenger hunts to a motion movie ride and realistic Flight Zone simulators. Experience every era of aviation from a fully restored 1932 Curtiss Wright speed wing biplane to the Titan IV LR87 space booster engine. Come experience the amazing innovation of flight!
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Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Think there’s no wide-open countryside left in Los Angeles? Think again. The Santa Monica Mountains stretch for 80km across the northwestern boundary of the Los Angeles basin. Within the range lie more than 60,000 largely undeveloped hectares of grassy swales, rock-studded hillsides, tree-shaded glens, and windswept beaches. A mosaic of state, local, and federal preserves protects this land, all managed under the umbrella of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the nation’s largest urban national park. One of the few mountain ranges in the United States to run east to west rather than north to south, the Santa Monicas can claim big nature bragging rights. Considered to be a “botanical island” in L.A.’s urban corridor, the slopes that run straight down to the Pacific are covered in chaparral, coastal sage, springtime wildflowers, and oak and sycamore forests. More than 20 species of endangered plants and animals thrive here. This is a place where you might see a bobcat stalk its prey, a coyote lope across the grasslands, or a golden eagle fly overhead.
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Universal Studios Hollywood
Find a full day of action-packed entertainment all in one place: thrilling Theme Park rides and shows, a real working movie studio, and Los Angeles’ best shops, restaurants and cinemas at CityWalk. Universal Studios Hollywood is a unique experience that’s fun for the whole family. Go behind the scenes of a real working movie studio! Visit 13 city blocks on four acres of historic studio lot in the largest set construction project in studio history, built with creative consultation from Steven Spielberg himself. Or see what awaits you inside The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! From magical spells to magical creatures, from dark villains to daring heroes, it’s all here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, now open at Universal Studios Hollywood. Explore the mysteries of Hogwarts castle, visit the shops of Hogsmeade, and sample fare from some of the wizarding world’s best-known establishments. Plus experience pulse-pounding rides and attractions that transport you into a world of magical thrills and excitement.
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Santa Monica Pier
You know you’ve arrived in Santa Monica, California when you see the iconic Ferris wheel of the Santa Monica Pier jutting into the inviting waters of the Pacific Ocean. Set at Santa Monica’s westernmost point, the Santa Monica Pier is a staple of this picturesque seaside community. Packed with family-friendly activities, restaurants and shops, it also has stunning views and over a century’s worth of history. Here’s everything you need to know about the Santa Monica Pier, the area’s most recognizable landmark. Constructed in 1909, the storied Santa Monica Pier was the first concrete pier on the West Coast. It quickly gained a reputation among locals as the best fishing spot in Santa Monica. The Looff Hippodrome, now a National Historic Landmark and home to a beautiful carousel, opened in 1916, followed by the iconic carousel in 1939. In 1941, the iconic Santa Monica Yacht Harbor neon sign was unveiled; this is the place for the perfect selfie!
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The Sunset Strip
There may be no greater concentration anywhere of the young, hip and beautiful than in the bars and clubs of this infamous stretch of road. The 2.6-kilometre strip of Sunset Boulevard is situated in the lively city of West Hollywood and upholds that lively city's reputation as a nightlife hotspot. From the heights of swanky hotel rooftops like the Mondrian’s SkyBar and the Tower Bar at Sunset Tower Hotel, to the glam-grunge of rock clubs like The Viper Room and Whisky a Go Go, there’s a setting to suit your style and mood. In addition to venues that showcase artists ranging from indie singer/songwriters to major-label headliners, there are iconic comedy clubs such as The Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store. Or head to The Roxy—where Rocky Horror Picture Show premiered in 1974—for live music in an intimate, 500-capacity venue. Sunset Strip isn’t just rock and roll. Spend the afternoon shopping at Sunset Plaza, which contains more than 20 stores, including Armani Exchange and H&M. Book lovers, don’t miss the iconic Book Soup, LA’s largest independent bookshop, with floor-to-ceiling shelves that contain more than 60,000 titles, many of which are limited edition.
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Autry Museum of the American West
Gone are the glory days of the Wild West, but you can still get in on the action at the Autry Museum of the American West. Just across from the entrance to the L.A. Zoo in Griffith Park, you’ll find this 3,345 sqm complex with over 500,000 works of art and artifacts from the American frontier. Co-founded by musical western star Gene Autry in 1988, it’s natural that the museum would dedicate space to cool Western film memorabilia, from the pistols used by Steve McQueen to costumes from 2005’s Brokeback Mountain. There’s even a replica movie set of an Old Western town with storefronts. (Little-known fact: The first-ever feature-length movie filmed in Hollywood was a Western—the 1914 silent film The Squaw Man, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The camera used to film it is here, too.) A bronze statue of “the singing cowboy” Autry greets you at the entrance, but the museum covers much more than just Hollywood gunslingers—you’ll learn all about the real Old West, too. You’ll find engraved golden pistols given to Annie Oakley by her husband Frank Butler. There’s an extensive saddle display, a mail stage coach from 1855, Smith & Wesson revolvers, pioneer portraits, cowboy hats, buckskin jackets—even a saloon with a mahogany bar and roulette wheel.
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Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory is a Southern California’s gateway to the cosmos! Since opening in 1935, Griffith Observatory has been a world leader in public astronomy, an icon of Los Angeles, a beloved civic gathering place, and one of southern California’s most popular attractions. Visitors can look through a telescope, see a live show in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, explore the exhibits, and enjoy the spectacular views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign. In addition, its iconic façade has been featured in more than 300 films and television shows. The Observatory is a Los Angeles landmark and worldwide tourist destination for over a million visitors a year.
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Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Today LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection of over 135,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of art history from new and unexpected points of view. A museum of international stature as well as a vital cultural center for Southern California, LACMA shares its vast collection with the Greater Los Angeles County and beyond through exhibitions, public programs, and research facilities that attract over 1.5 million visitors annually, in addition to serving millions more through community partnerships, school outreach programs, and creative digital initiatives.
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Disneyland
Enter a magical kingdom where you can sail with pirates, explore exotic jungles, meet fairy-tale princesses, dive under the ocean and rocket through the stars! Disneyland Park is a beloved Southern California destination where generations of families have made their Disney dreams come true. Walt Disney’s original Disneyland theme park, which first opened on July 17, 1955, is now divided into 8 extravagantly themed lands: Main Street, U.S.A., Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown, Frontierland, Critter Country, New Orleans Square and Adventureland.