Visiting the Boardwalk, the Wharf, and the beach every Santa Cruz summer can be a blast, with only one big drawback:
To imagine a trip to Beach St. in the thick of July or August without fighting to find a cheap spot or shelling out more than you’d like to on parking used to be considered a dream — but with the Santa Cruz Trolley, it’s a reality.
Reminiscent of a San Francisco cable car, the Santa Cruz Trolley is the quaintest twenty-five cent ride you’ll ever take. The trolley operates from noon to 8:00 pm Labor Day through Memorial Day, transporting people from Pacific Avenue to Beach Street (home of the Boardwalk, among many other attractions) with stops every 30 minutes on weekdays and every 20 minutes on weekends.
Though they’re only a couple years old, the trolleys are modeled after the streetcars that once operated through Santa Cruz in the early 1900s. This was when Santa Cruz was connected to the Suntan Special, a system of trains that went from Bay Area destinations like Oakland and San Jose to the coast, a Santa Cruz had its own system if trolley routes that spanned from the East Side to Mission St.
From the bell that chimes as it makes its way through the streets of Santa Cruz to the wooden benches that comfortably seat plenty of tourists and locals alike, the trolley serves as a fun historical lesson for kids and their parents.
There’s ample parking to be found downtown, with the two biggest garages being on Cedar St.and Locust St. and Soquel St. and Front St. Making the quick round trip means families can include some shopping, dining and even a movie into their beach and Boardwalk excursion.
And while you’re down on the Boardwalk end, not having to worry about your meter running out too soon, feel free to participate in some of the other attractions, like the nearby Wharf, Boardwalk Bowl, Monterey Bay Exploration Center, and restaurants and shops on Beach St.
Coming from downtown, you can catch the trolley in front of the Del Mar Theatre on Pacific Avenue, or at the Locust Street Garage. Coming from Beach Street, head to the Sanctuary Exploration Center at 35 Pacific Ave.
In the end, the Santa Cruz Trolley is just a means to an end, an easier way to transport people to different summer destinations. But it could be the most fun you’ll ever have getting somewhere in Santa Cruz.
To learn more, visit the official site for the Santa Cruz Trolley.