Our Honeymoon in Santa Cruz and the Fun of Staying Closer to Home

If you are like me, when you hear the word honeymoon you probably immediately think of some romantic tropical destination in a faraway land. You and your new husband lounging on the beach, Pina Coladas in hand, and the ocean waves crashing against the shore just inches from your feet. Sounds like a dream, right?

Those that have been following me for a while know that I love to travel. I was fortunate enough to get to explore both the Dominican Republic and Quebec City & Montreal this year. Two major trips that were a ton of fun, but were also a lot of travel time, quite a bit of vacation used up, and money spent.

When it was time to look into what we wanted to do for our honeymoon we decided we wanted to explore somewhere closer. Neither one of us wanted to spend a ton of time traveling. After all, the point of a honeymoon is to spend some quality time together, right? With limited vacation time from our other travels this year we decided to utilize Thanksgiving weekend and headed to Santa Cruz. I had not been to Santa Cruz since I was 11 and my husband had never really explored the area before. With only a 2 and a half hour drive, we were able to utilize so much of our time together and it was perfect!


I’m going to preface this trip with the fact that my husband and I both really enjoy craft beer. Trying out new places that have a good tap list is always a bonus for us. We had heard so many good things about Aptos St. BBQ and it did not disappoint. We wanted to grab a bite to eat so this was our first stop on the way to our hotel. They have an amazing tap list and their pulled pork sandwich is one of the best I’ve ever had. I highly recommend checking this place out if you ever get a chance.

Our Honeymoon in Santa Cruz and the Fun of Staying Closer to Home


I was in love with Hotel Paradox the moment we walked in. The lobby had its own little reading hall and very modern décor. The reception desk was a large tree trunk that added to the unique design of the hotel. Our hotel room was so quaint and perfect for the two of us. I was obsessed with the reclaimed barn wood design installed behind the bed. Luckily, my husband is very talented in that department and will be recreating this look for behind our bed at home!

One of our favorite parts was getting to sit outside poolside, under the lights, and enjoy an old fashioned from their outdoor bar. Made for the perfect ending to our first night in Santa Cruz.

Our Honeymoon in Santa Cruz and the Fun of Staying Closer to Home


I am kind of obsessed with hiking. My husband was never really a hiker before he met me. He’s embraced it with open arms and lets me indulge when we can. I’m an archaeologist and love anything history related. We decided to explore the Lime Kiln’s Trail and it was nothing short of amazing. I can’t even begin to describe the beauty of hiking in this area. Seeing the historic limestone kilns remains where the factories once stood was so awesome and completely filled my history nerd side.

Our Honeymoon in Santa Cruz and the Fun of Staying Closer to Home
Our Honeymoon in Santa Cruz and the Fun of Staying Closer to Home


As I mentioned earlier, we like craft beer. After our hike we decided to check out Santa Adairius Rustic Ales and Humble Brewing for some beer. We did burn all those calories after all. One of our favorite things to do when we are trying out a new brewery or tap room is to get a flight. It’s a great way to sample what the brewery has to offer and see which ones are your favorites.

Our Honeymoon in Santa Cruz and the Fun of Staying Closer to Home


We had heard from our friends that the Beer Thirty Bottle Shop & Pour House offered not only a great tap list, but some amazing beer to take home. We decided to swing by on our drive home. I loved that this place had an outdoor seating area and an inside as well. There is so much space and it’s a great spot to enjoy a beer.

Our Honeymoon in Santa Cruz and the Fun of Staying Closer to Home


Another must-see spot was Phil’s Fish Market. We timed this spot as a lunch stop on our way home. Don’t let this place deceive you. From the outside it looks pretty small, but the second you walk in it opens up into this huge lunch hall. Their food was so fresh and amazing. I highly recommend the Cippino!

Our Honeymoon in Santa Cruz and the Fun of Staying Closer to Home

I love getting to spend time with my husband. Whether we are enjoying a movie on the couch or exploring a new town, the bonding experience brings us so much closer together. So you can understand why I was bummed when our Santa Cruz weekend came to a close. One thing I love about our honeymoon choice was we got to spend a lot of quality time together and it is close enough for us to revisit those memories anytime we want.

Where did you go for your honeymoon? Or where would you like to go? There are so many amazing places and I’d love to hear about them!

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  1. I’ve never been to Santa Cruz! This definitely makes me want to add this to the list my husband and I have going. I love that there’s nature AND beer haha!

    1. You should definitely add this to your list! There is so much to do. We barely scratched the surface.

  2. I love Santa Cruz. We didnt have a honeymoon because my husband was deployed right after our wedding…. and it just never happened. We are thinking about renewing our vows and having a mini honeymoon on Whidbey Isalnd where we met in a couple years though.

    1. Renewing your vows and then going to Whidbey Island would be so amazing! Plus very sentimental.

  3. The idea of honeymooning close to home is so lovely! and ugh, I love that hotel it seems so cozy- perfect for a honeymoon!


  4. Great post! I agree that sometimes trips close to home are the best. Plus we have so much to explore here in California!

    1. Agreed! I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface with all the places to explore here.

  5. I would love to visit Santa Cruz. Looks like a great location for any occasion. Your photos are so nice.

  6. You guys found so many fun things to do!!

  7. Looks like you had fun and looks like a great place to visit! Congrats!

  8. Such wonderful place to visit, and make memories. Entirely agree with you the honeymoon it is that time to enjoy each-other, quality time.

  9. There’s really nothing like exploring a new town with your husband! My husband and I just got back from a little “babymoon” to San Diego and it was awesome. I’m definitely putting Santa Cruz on our “places to see” list!!

    1. I love San Diego! We go there a few times a year and still have so much more to see.

  10. I love Santa Cruz! This looks like it was such a perfect weekend! My hubs and I did a “mini-moon” after our wedding this May and spent some time on the Central Coast then traveled up to San Francisco for a bit. We plan to do a bigger trip/true honeymoon for our first anniversary!

    1. I love the idea of a bigger trip for the first anniversary. My husband and I may have to do that too!

  11. My Hubby and I went to Croatia for our Honeymoon! It was amazing. Your trip looked really fun. We also enjoy craft beer, we are lucky to live in Bellingham, Wa where we have a TON of craft breweries. They are all fairly close so we like to get our bikes out and do our own brewery tour. If you’re ever in the north PNW you should check it out!

    1. How fun! Riding bikes and checking out breweries sounds amazing. I will definitely keep this in mind if we find ourselves in the north PNW. Love exploring new areas.

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