Hot date coming up? Let Santa Cruz be your chaperone. Here are a few ideas for outings to spark a love connection.
You demand beauty from your date. Nope, you’re not superficial: you just love the great outdoors. And a good place to start is with a stroll through the enchanting gardens at UCSC Arboretum whose 135 acres wind over a picturesque hillside. Or get out on the water in a dual kayak from Venture Quest as you and your date paddle by the otters, pelicans, dolphins and perhaps even a whale of the Monterey Bay. You can also swap your water shoes for hiking shoes and join the banana slugs on the redwood-lined trails of the serene Forest of Nisene Marks. Follow up your outdoor adventures by ambling through a lush garden to the forested patio of Shadowbrook for drinks and apps alongside the Soquel Creek.
Is food the way to your heart? Start your day immersed in the local bounty at one of Santa Cruz’s many farmers’ markets. Follow that up by browsing the inspiring cookbooks at Bookshop Santa Cruz and collect a few ideas for your next romantic dinner at home. Ever put down a cookbook and not felt hungry? You’ll need all the appetite you can muster at Gayle’s which flaunts a giddy amount of savory and sweet delights. Grab too much of everything and head towards the beach for an alfresco feast. If and when you ever get hungry again, the atmospheric dining room of La Posta is ready for you with some of the best pizzas and Italian food the area has to offer. Buon appetito!
Are you an art lover lover? The arts are thriving in Santa Cruz. For proof, look no further than MAH, Santa Cruz’s recently reinvigorated cultural hub. Begin in the immersive history room before meandering through the rotating exhibits and ending up on the sunny rooftop sculpture garden. Afterwards, head to the Tannery, an awesome campus of working studios that includes a striking gallery and a hip cafe. It’s named after the old Salz Tannery whose beautiful red, wooden structures now house an inspiring artistic scene. The Tannery is also the site of the Arts Council Santa Cruz County which produces Open Studios each fall. Over the course of three weekends in October, art lovers get a chance to visit the studios of more than 300 artists throughout Santa Cruz County. Can’t wait until then? Set your date for First Friday Art Tour and hop around numerous venues exhibiting local artists. Cap the night by practicing your best yawn-arm-stretch move with an indie flick at the beautiful Del Mar Theatre or Nickelodeon Theatres.
Treat Yo Self Couple
The Donna and Tom Haverford characters on NBC’s Parks and Recreation aren’t a couple, but they had the right idea when they dedicated a day to pampering themselves — or as they proclaimed: “Treat Yo Self!” Start your own indulgent date by clinking mimosas bayside at the bright and sunny Paradise Beach Grille. Then leisurely make your way to a spa appointment at Well Within Spa. After a muscle-melting couples massage, bask in your post-treatment bliss in one of their private rooms with sauna and outdoor jacuzzi set in a fountain-burbling garden. If you can manage to pull yourself away, swing on over to the Westside for wine tasting courtesy of the tasting rooms of the Surf City Vintners. Come nightfall, slide on a bathrobe and slippers and unwind — hey, pampering is hard work — in a waterfront suite at The Dream Inn.