Lighthouse Field State Beach
Lighthouse Field State Beach lies at the north end of Monterey Bay in downtown Santa Cruz, and can be accessed via West Cliff Drive. A protected state park covering 15 hectares, it overlooks the famous Steamer Lane surf break, making it incredibly popular with experienced surfers and body boarders.
The beach itself is formed of flat, lightly-coloured sands surrounded by smooth platforms of sedimentary rock that act as the foundations for the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse built in 1967.
Once known as Point Santa Cruz, behind the beach visitors will find walking and mountain biking trails, as well as picnic areas, public restrooms and outdoor showers. The lighthouse contains Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, the first of three such museums now found in California.
When it comes to nature, the trees are one of the wintering grounds for monarch butterflies, while sea lions can be often seen frolicking in the Pacific waves. This could be one reason why dogs are permitted, but only so long as they are kept on a short leash.
Parking is free, but can be difficult to find on weekends and during the holidays.
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