San Francisco | March 28, 2019 9:00 am

Here’s How to Recreate the Would-Be Idyllic Vacation From “Us”

You know, minus the final 80 minutes of violence and bloodshed

So you just saw Us.

And if you didn’t: get to a theater and bring someone who scares easily.

Your reaction, beyond “Does the ending of Jordan Peele’s Us play fair with the audience?” may in fact be: time to get on down Santa Cruz way. Remove all the wanton violence and gangs of roving, malevolent doppelgangers, and what remains is a nostalgia-rich beach community just footsteps from the Pacific Coast Ranges. And with the internet predicting that Us could have a negative impact on tourism this summer, we say that makes it the perfect time to go.

Here are your marching orders, from a cabin by the beach to the famous boardwalk that may or may not be keeping you up at night right now.

Obviously, Us. Also The Lost Boys. Also Chasing Mavericks, which the local tourism board likes so much they made a map of the nearby shooting locations. And Harold and Maude, the 1971 March-December romance offering almost 50-year-old views of the boardwalk and rides (like the Trabant) now long gone.

First, some bad news. The home featured as the Wilsons’ cabin is IRL in Pasadena, and the lake featured is actually Lake Gregory, in very much the wrong part of the state. (It would be about a seven-hour drive to the boardwalk.) Of course, if you think Northern California can’t pony up a couple cabins for millionaires, you are … not spending a lot of time in Northern California. Between Santa Cruz and San Jose you’ll find plenty of mountains, but few lakes. Try instead this gorgeous cabin just north of Santa Cruz, under the redwoods and near Greyhound Rock Beach.

Obviously the famous Santa Cruz Boardwalk, now a key figure in two of the greatest horror movies of our time (Jordan Peele respects The Lost Boys, and so shall we all). The Ferris Wheel isn’t there anymore, but the rest of the rides and arcades are present and accounted for — just don’t lose track of your kids during Whack-a-Mole. If you head down next weekend and are unaccountably resistant to weekend rest, consider the Boardwalk Fun Run 5K.

The restaurants along the wharf are all variations on a set theme — seafood + views — and of them, low-key Riva is our choice. Oswald, meanwhile, may offer the fanciest meal in town, with California coastal dishes like pan-fried local rockfish and Dungeness crab with avocado. Brand-new on the beach is the Jack O’Neill Restaurant & Lounge, with options like the thematically appropriate Lost Boys bouillabaisse.

Main image via Unsplash