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snacksHeading North out of Santa Cruz we still needed to gather up the last few items for our picnic. Just steps off Mission Street, as State Route 1 is called in town, everything we could possibly require lies within a two block radius.

Our first stop is El Salchichero (literally “The Sausage Man”) to flesh out the charcuterie portion of our beach snacks. Among the many smoked and cured selections is my very favorite, the Spanish Chorizo Salami, which I can never pass up. Also worth a try are the Sopressata and Pâté Campagnola. Honestly, I doubt you’d be disappointed by anything that catches your eye.

From here we can make our next two stops without even moving the car. First is Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard to pick up a bottle of their delicious Grenache. They try to tempt us with a tasting but the beach is calling, and our picnic is still missing key elements. Just half a block further is our locally owned grocer New Leaf where we add soft cheese and olives to the basket. Back into the car for one last item. Around the corner is Companion Bakeshop, a locals’ favorite for artisanal bread and pastries. Our picnic needs are simple and we pass over the sweets to pick up two baguettes, a Sweet French and a Seeded.

snacks 2Back on the road, city gives way almost immediately to rolling green hills. As we continue toward our destination we start to get hints and glimpses of the ocean. While not as well known as the section through Big Sur, Highway 1 North of Santa Cruz passes by some equally stunning coastline.

Our destination lies 8 miles out of town, and is identified solely by a dirt parking area dotted with utility poles. A quick left across the highway and we’ve arrived. About a mile further is the small hamlet of Davenport, if you get here you’ve gone too far.

santa cruz beachParking is fairly simple, and some recent grading has lessened the ruts we’ve come to expect from our previous visits. There are no facilities here, nor is there a ranger on duty; make sure not to leave anything visibly tempting in your car. We gather up our supplies, transfer the wine to a skein (no glass on the beach), and descend upon our final destination. At the end of the dirt parking lot is a sign declaring this area to be part of Coast Dairies State Park. Immediately to the right of this sign is the narrow trail down to the sand. The route down from the cliffs to the beach is a tad perilous; being the most surefooted member of our troupe, I am assigned picnic basket duty.

On the left side of the beach is a small arch bored right through the sandstone cliff. At lower tides, preferably on the way out, one is able to easily pass through to Hole-in-the-Wall Beach without getting wet. Our party quickly decides not to risk it and we set up our blanket to enjoy the sunset along with our picnic. Another Santa Cruz day well spent.