Story Ideas for Santa Cruz County
Best Place to Learn to Surf - Cowell's Beach next to
the Santa Cruz Wharf is undeniably the best place on the West Coast to
learn to surf. A sheltered point break provides long, gentle waves in
shallow waters with a soft, sandy ocean floor. Surf school instructors
will outfit you with wetsuits and surfboards, coach you in small groups
or one-on-one and guarantee to get you up on the waves on your first
Shakespeare in the Redwoods -
The nationally acclaimed Shakespeare Santa Cruz throws stereotypes out
the backstage door while remaining steadfast to the Bard's original
words. Every season for the past 25 years, an outdoor glen has provided
the enchanting backdrop for the summer performances-cleverly interpreted
with imaginative wit and an exuberant company of players. The audience
brings blankets, beach chairs and picnics as part of a long-standing
tradition for enjoying the plays under the redwoods.
Top 10 Free Things To Do - On a
budget? Go wine tasting, visit eclectic museums, explore unusual
gardens, watch a free seal show, explore art studios and galleries,
take a historical walking tour, people watch in Downtown Santa Cruz,
hike through ancient redwoods, walk along scenic West Cliff Drive, or
build sand castles on the beach.
Art Glass - From the museum
quality lamps, vases and paperweights of Lundberg Studios, to sumptuous
glass dinnerware of Annieglass, Santa Cruz is home to a number of
renowned glass artisans. In addition, the Paperweight Museum in downtown
Santa Cruz houses rare and antique paperweights from around the world.
Eccentric Winemakers - They
fraternize with varietals of questionable background such as Malvasia,
Cinsault and Freisa. They carry on with 100 percent organic,
"sulphiteless" potions such as "Big House Red en Screw Cap", "Chaucer's
Mead" and "Rusty Ridge." And they integrate herbs with wine, resulting
in ginseng blends that may be as good for you as they taste. Welcome to
winemaking, Santa Cruz style.
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
- Santa Cruz County serves as the gateway to the nation's largest
marine sanctuary and offers endless ways to explore the bay including:
whale watching charters, sunset cruises, fishing charters, kayaking,
surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, tide pool exploring, and Santa
Cruz's newest attraction, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long
The Music Never Stops - Between
the free beach summer concerts, the acclaimed Cabrillo Music Festival,
the Bay Shore Lyric Opera, Santa Cruz Baroque Festival, Santa Cruz
Chorale, Santa Cruz Symphony, New Music Works, Kuumbwa Jazz Center,
eclectic nightclubs and countless festivals, the possibilities for
enjoying live music are endless.
Wintering Monarch Butterflies -
From October through February, thousands of Monarch butterflies migrate
to Natural Bridges State Park. Visitors can catch sight of these royal
creatures clustered in the park's magical eucalyptus grove.
Romantic Escape - While long
known as a family destination, Santa Cruz is also a romantic escape for
the young at heart. The scenic beauty, combined with a rich infusion of
arts, wine, cozy bistros and award-winning inns, rouses the romantic
muse in everyone.
Top Spot for Kiteboarding -
This new, adrenaline-packed sport combines the best of windsurfing and
wakeboarding with a specially designed kite to get gigantic air.
Spectators get stoked just watching. Waddell Beach north of Santa Cruz
has become the top destination in California for daredevil kiteboarders.
Skyline-to-the-Sea Trail - Big
Basin Redwoods State Park is one of the few places where you can still
hike an unbroken trail from the redwood-covered mountains to the rugged,
windswept beaches of the Pacific Coast. The 12-mile trail winds along
majestic old-growth redwoods, graceful waterfalls and gorgeous vistas,
down to the beach.
Bird Watching - The Pajaro
Valley and Watsonville regions are recognized for the over 200 species
of waterfowl, raptors and songbirds which call it home, making it an
ideal place to watch for feathered creatures. During peak migration,
Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve near Watsonville supports up
to 30,000 wintering and migrating shorebirds alone. Both areas can be
explored on foot, by kayak or by guided pontoon boat tour.
Unusual Gardens - Explore a
forest with over 40 different varieties of bamboo, see rare and antique
roses, view entire landscapes of exotic plants from Australia, New
Zealand, and South Africa, pick up organic gardening tips, or tour
drought-resistant demonstration gardens.
Savor Strawberries -
Watsonville is the "unofficial" strawberry capital of the nation. Local
farms offer the opportunity to pick your own, and each August, visitors
can join in the fun of the Monterey Bay Strawberry Festival. The free
festival features an array of strawberry treats, art and crafts, music,
pie eating contests, and a carnival.
Made in Santa Cruz - A
fourth-generation, family-run candy company is credited with bringing
salt water taffy to the west coast. A create-your-own perfumery mixes
signature scents. A local glass artist creates art for the table that is
sold internationally to the style-conscious shopper. These and many
more fascinating artisans comprise Santa Cruz County's long list of
residents creating products found nowhere else.
Little-Known Wineries - The
Santa Cruz Mountains were established as an acclaimed wine-producing
region in the 1800s, but prohibition knocked it out of the running for
while. Santa Cruz Mountain wineries have since re-emerged with
award-winning wines and an independent spirit that is distinctively
Santa Cruz. There are now nearly 50 family-owned wineries in the
Healthy Living - Santa Cruz
County is a magnet for the health conscious. The region offers a
plethora of day spas, yoga centers, woodland retreats, vegetarian
restaurants, an oxygen bar and natural food stores. There are also
several area farmers' markets-one for nearly every day of the week.
State Parks - Hike an unbroken
trail from the redwoods to the sea. Watch wintering monarch
butterflies. Explore a historic rancho that once served the Santa Cruz
Mission. Stroll wide expanses of pristine coastline. Santa Cruz County
has an extraordinary number of state parks-14 in all-and is home to
California's oldest, Big Basin.
Nightlife - Big talent at
intimate venues is the norm at area nightclubs with Santa Cruz serving
as a favorite jumping-off point for musicians traveling to and from San
Francisco. Kuumbwa Jazz Center, The Catalyst, Moe's Alley Blues Club,
and Henfling's Firehouse Tavern serve up the best in live music ranging
from bluegrass to surf punk to jazz.
Downtown Revitalized - From the
rubble of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, Downtown Santa Cruz has
re-emerged as one of the most engaging destinations on the California
Coast. Here you'll find a vibrant city adorned with public art, graceful
architecture, and bustling coffee houses.
Antiques - In the quaint hamlet
of Soquel Village, visitors can stroll from one antique shop to the
next in search of countless treasures. Other antique spots may be found
in Aptos, Watsonville, Santa Cruz and the San Lorenzo Valley.
Organic Cuisine - In Santa
Cruz County, cooking begins in the garden. Chefs base their imaginative
culinary offerings on the bounty of locally grown, organic fruits and
vegetables. They forage local farmers' markets to select the finest
ingredients for their daily specials and create menus in harmony with
the seasons to feature local produce at its peak.
Surfing Wahines - 63-year-old
legend Rosemari Reimers Rice still surfs Santa Cruz breaks every chance
she gets. Home to Northern California's only women's surf shop, a
number of women-only surfing events, and women-only surf classes taught
by women instructors, women rule the waves in Santa Cruz.
Golf - Designed by Alister
MacKenzie, Pasatiempo Golf Course is ranked among the nation's top 100
courses. Santa Cruz County is also home to several other beautiful
courses including Boulder Creek Golf & Country Club, Seascape Golf
Club and DeLaveaga Golf Course.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk -
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk celebrates its 100th birthday in 2007!
The boardwalk is the West Coast's last remaining major seaside amusement
park and Santa Cruz's most popular attraction. The park blends the best
of the nostalgic rides and arcade amusements with the latest high-tech
rides. Favorites include the 95-year-old Looff Carousel and the Giant
Dipper, an 81-year-old wooden roller coaster.
Roaring Camp Railroads - Train
lovers and history buffs can celebrate the days of old at Roaring Camp
Railroads, a place where a 1890s steam train still carries passengers
daily through some of the most primitive scenery in the American West.
History often comes alive as wily desperadoes from the 1800s try to rob
trains, and Civil War re-enactors play out gun battles along the route.
History - Historical walking
tours bring to life the history of Capitola, the logging days of
Boulder Creek and the Victorian homes of Watsonville and Santa Cruz.
Also, don't miss the Museum of Art & History, Agricultural History
Museum, Wilder Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz Mission, and the other
historical museums around the county.
29 Miles of Beaches - Whether
it's building sand castles, learning to surf, playing a round of
volleyball, tide-pooling or taking a romantic stroll, Santa Cruz
County's 29 miles of sun-splashed beaches offer something for everyone.