This is my favorite place to go in Santa Cruz, so whenever I'm going to the beach, I always make sure I have time to stop there.
I suggest you go early (as in before 10am) and get a cup of coffee and a muffin, and then sit outside next to the creek. You can't really go wrong with what you order there, though I'm especially fond of the blueberry, coconut, and pumpkin. On your way in, you can't miss the giant sign that says "Relax...you have plenty of time." Please be aware that this is as true of advice as you can possibly get, so please follow it.
Do not, I repeat, do not take the muffins to go. You will have lost one of the many things that makes this place special. So find a table, sit down, and eat. I guarantee your life will be better off because of it.
Afterward, if you feel adventurous, drive over to one of Santa Cruz's many state beaches. My favorites are Natural Bridges (if I'm feeling cheap and don't mind parking on the street and walking) or New Brighton if I want to make a day of it (watch out for poison oak on the hillside!) I can't really recommend the Beach Boardwalk, since there isn't much to think about there, and it's diametrically at odds with the calming atmosphere at Emily's, but hey, some people like it.
Though I must admit I like the Sky Glider, but only because I can float along fifty feet in the air and gossip with my wife about the people below.
So if you want to take some time out of your busy lives to do something special for yourself, please get something good to eat, and relax, if only for a moment.