New Brighton State Beach
Down in Capitola, just south of Santa Cruz, one of the favorite sandy spots is New Brighton State Beach (1500 Park Ave., Capitola, 831/464-6330, www.parks.ca.gov). This forest-backed beach has everything: a strip of sand that’s perfect for lounging and cold-water swimming, a forest-shaded campground for both tent and RV campers, hiking trails, and ranger-led nature programs.
If you plan to camp, call in advance to make reservations at this popular state park, or just come for the day and set up your spot out on the sand. New Brighton can get crowded on rare sunny summer days, but it’s nothing like the wall-to-wall people of the popular Southern California beaches.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition