Super Bowl 50: Ten Reasons to Head to Santa Cruz
Photo Courtesy of Fox 8 Cleveland
It's been decided. On February 7, 2016, the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers are heading to Super Bowl 50 in the Bay Area! The landmark game takes place at Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the 49ers and roughly 40 minutes from our sandy shores. If you're in town for the big game, consider Santa Cruz as the best sampling of California in one nearby locale: beaches, redwoods, vineyards, surf culture, and a historic beachfront theme park. Here are ten super ideas for things to do during your visit:
All Photos by Garrick Ramirez
1) Bury Your Toes in the Sand (Yep, Even in February)
Take advantage of Santa Cruz’s year-round Mediterranean climate with a day at the beach. The above photo was snapped on February 15, 2015 -- what many of you might know as the dead of winter -- at lovely Sunny Cove Beach. Sunny Cove is just one of many scenic spots along our 29 miles of coastline. From secret coves to wide sandy expanses, you’ll find a beach that’ll help you forget what month it is.
2) Clink Local Beers. Lots of ‘Em.
California is home to some notable craft beer destinations, but Santa Cruz is the next big thing. New breweries and taprooms are sprouting up what seems like each month and a supportive, convivial community -- not to mention delicious, quality brews -- make for an enjoyable day on the beer trail. Start at New Bohemia Brewing Company for Czech and German style lagers served in a stylish tasting room. Or grab a seat on the sunny, new beer garden at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing which is celebrating 10 years of brewing organic beers.
3) Modern Thrills at 108 Year-Old Beach Theme Park
No one mixes nostalgia and contemporary thrills better than the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The festive, waterfront amusement park is the place to nibble homemade fudge from a 100 year-old candymaker before taking a whirl on a new, spinning rollercoaster. You can shoot digital zombies in the massive arcade and pitch softballs at a stack of metal bottles on the midway. Don’t miss the Giant Dipper, a 91 year-old coaster -- and National Historic Landmark -- that still draws the crowds and the screams.
4) Marvel at Earth’s Largest Living Things
Northern California is home to the tallest living things on the planet: Sequoia Sempervirens, or Coastal Redwoods. You’ll find groves of these colossal trees literally minutes from Santa Cruz’s sandy shores. Stroll 15 miles of trails at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park or hop aboard the vintage steam trains at Roaring Camp Railroads that haul passengers through mountaintop, old-growth forests. For the truly adventurous, harness up for a series of ziplines and sky bridges amidst the treetops on a Redwoods Canopy Tour.
5) Get Out on the Water
Santa Cruz's most cherished feature is arguably the Monterey Bay. For close up views, test your balance on a stand-up paddle board with lessons and rentals from outlets like Capitola Beach Company. You’ll stay drier -- and sip more wine -- on a scenic leisure cruise on the Bay. But if you turn green just from looking at the sea, consider a stroll on the Santa Cruz Wharf. The longest wooden pier in the state extends far into the bay, offering front row views of the Bay’s wildlife, from barking sea lions to leaping dolphins and the occasional spyhopping whale.
6) Get Stoked on Local Surf Culture
If there was a Surfer Bowl, Santa Cruz would be its host city. You needn’t hop on a board to soak up the town’s rich surf culture. Santa Cruz became the birthplace of mainland surfing when Hawaiians showed locals how to catch waves using repurposed redwood planks. And it was here that Jack O’Neill invented a crazy, neoprene contraption called “the wetsuit.” You’ll learn those stories -- and the history of surfing throughout pop culture -- at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, housed in a historic lighthouse overlooking famed surf spot, Steamer Lane.
7) Pop the Cork on Santa Cruz Wineries
The Santa Cruz Mountains appellation is home to over 200 vineyards and a whopping 60+ wineries. Sample the region’s famed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay -- as well as other varietals -- at the numerous tasting rooms of Santa Cruz’s small, independent producers. Settings vary from the bucolic Alfaro Family Vineyards to Bonny Doon’s stylish tasting room to a series of walkable wineries on the Westside including MJA and Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard.
Courtesy Pasatiempo Golf Course
8) Hit the Links
Santa Clara may have the pigskin, but Santa Cruz has the greens. Avid golfers shouldn’t miss an opportunity to tee up at Pasatiempo Golf Club, a championship course with stunning bay vistas. The lauded course was designed by Alister MacKenzie -- who crafted three of the top six courses in the world -- and was ranked #21 for public courses in the US by Golf Digest. Afterwards, swap stories over Cowboy Steaks at Back Nine Grill & Bar which features huge flatscreens and a deck overlooking the second fairway. Make it a 36 hole day and head over to DeLaveaga Golf Course, one of the top ranked public courses in California. Delaveaga combines striking natural beauty with a challenging and thoughtful course design featuring tree lined fairways, deep canyons, and infamous 10th hole.
Courtesy of Ideal Bar & Grill
9) Watch the Game (From the Beach):
Couldn’t nab tix to Levi’s Stadium? You won’t miss the crowds while you’re enjoying the game on big screens at beachfront spots like Ideal Bar & Grill, Crow’s Nest, and Cafe Rio on the Beach. If the beer commercials finally get to you, pull up a chair at 99 Bottles of Beer whose screens are complemented by 42 taps and over 250 bottles in the cold case.
10) Make Your Hotel a Destination
From beachfront boutiques to historic inns, Santa Cruz lodging offers more than a place to rest your head. The cheery, California-inspired Dream Inn sits directly on the sand of Cowell Beach with unparalleled Bay views from every room. Design fans will love the Hotel Paradox, a stylish boutique whose interiors play up Santa Cruz’s redwood forests (an enormous, 18-foot eucalyptus tree serves as the front desk). Looking for a more scenic escape? Check out Seascape Beach Resort nine miles south of Santa Cruz in Aptos and set on 45 acres of breathtaking coastal bluffs. For historical charm, grab a porch seat at the West Cliff Inn, a modern B&B housed in a striking 1877 Italianate home overlooking the Bay. Or spread out in a vacation rental and enjoy our laid-back lifestyle in a quintessential California beach bungalow.
Best of luck to the two teams! Hope to see you in Santa Cruz!
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