When we traveled to San Francisco, we did end up taking a day to drive down the coast a little bit. It is worth the trip, and if you do go, you absolutely have to go to the Natural Bridges State Park. Scientists believe that the arches in the park were formed over a million years ago when the combination of clay, silt, and diatoms formed into a unique stone mixture. While some areas have become eroded with time, the fact that we can still see part of them today is quite extraordinary!
When we went, we did not see any, however this area is apparently also a great place to see monarch butterfly migrations from October to early in February. If you are interested in checking that out, you probably would want to go during the winter season.
Since my husband and I are from the East Coast, before this trip, we had never seen the sunset on the ocean, so that is another travel tip I have for you. Definitely make sure you go when you can see it because it is really gorgeous! There are various areas within the park as well, from the sandy beach to more walk way focused places for safety reasons. You really could spend several hours here if you wanted. The Walton Lighthouse is in Santa Cruz too, and if you are going to the state park, it would be easy to go there for an additional stop. I will leave the link for the lighthouse below as well.
Let me know in the comments if you have also gone to the Natural Bridges State Park, and what you thought about it! It is a really fun day trip, and if you are visiting California, I would rent a car, pack some snacks, beach bag, and enjoy exploring the coast! I hope that you have a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!