I think that the very first destination for misguided people headed to Santa Cruz, is the Beach Boardwalk.
As the calendar pages are pulled back, beach goers descend upon Cowell's Beach like migratory gulls, laying out beach towels and popping up neon bright umbrellas. In the background, rickety wooden roller coasters roar along their tracks, and riders' screams are all a part of the sunny ambiance.
In the years that I've lived here, on and off, I had never been to the Boardwalk or to Cowell's Beach.
In fact, I tried to avoid the beach altogether, wary of the crowds and summer hooligans who came to play. Last summer, however, Beach Street received a new tenant: The Picnic Basket.
Now the traffic jams and parking mazes are worth braving. (Even if the Boardwalk itself is not.)
(And yes, I'm on Instagram: chloe_kiser )