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Travel BLOG
May 17, 2017

Our Picks for a Sunny Santa Cruz County Summer

All Photos by Garrick Ramirez

The days are becoming warmer, schoolkids are getting antsy, and vacation plans are shaping up. Summer’s nearly here and we’ve got some fun recs for a spectacular season in Santa Cruz.


Dine with the Sea Lions
At Splash!, some of the best views come from staring at the floor. Dotted throughout its colorful dining room perched on the Santa Cruz Wharf are portals that peer down onto the lounging sea lions and swirling waters of the Monterey Bay below. It’s just some of the fun you’ll have in addition to slurping oysters under a school of glimmering metal fish and sipping cocktails at a rotating, circular bar!

A Farm-to-Table Happy Hour
Long before “farm-to-table” became the it-phrase among foodies, Ristorante Avanti was sourcing its meats and produce from local farms for their rustic Cal-Italia dishes. Even their craft cocktails—stylishly served on vintage stemware—make use of the region’s fresh herbs and juices. Now you can enjoy both at a discount thanks to a new happy hour offered each weekday from 5-6pm. Classic cocktails such as Negronis and Margaritas as well as refined bar bites including duck liver bruschetta and white shrimp tempura are all $7 each.

Surf + Sushi
Slip out of your shoes and into the sunken tables at Kaito, an atmospheric Japanese eatery in the surf-centric neighborhood of Pleasure Point. Choose from an ever-changing list of fresh sushi specials plus steaming bowls of ramen that are customizable via your choice of nine different broths, from rich pork tonkotsu to a spicy miso.

Farmers’ Market Finds
Discovering something new—aka enjoying complimentary bites of delicious foods—is half the fun of Santa Cruz Farmers’ Markets. With a bounty of colorful crops and a market offered nearly every day of the week, summer is a perfect time to visit. This season, seek out juicy organic strawberries from Swanton Berry Farm (experiencing a late season due to spring rains), savory goat cheeses from Garden Variety Cheese, rustic sourdough loaves from Companion Bakeshop, and vibrant bouquets from Blue House Farm.


30th Anniversary of The Lost Boys
Before Twilight and Buffy, there was The Lost Boys, the 1987 teen vampire flick that paired a young Kiefer Sutherland with Corey Feldman and Corey Haim (aka the two Coreys). Set in the fictional town of Santa Clara, the film was shot in Santa Cruz and features numerous local landmarks including the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. In celebration of the film’s 30th anniversary, the Boardwalk will kick off its free outdoor movie series with a screening. Want to revisit classic haunts from the film to see how they appear thirty years later? Check out our new movie location map that we created just for the occasion!

Swirl Molten Glass (Yep, you read that right)
At Chris Johnson Glass, you can produce your own glass artwork in the time it takes to watch a summer blockbuster. Each Saturday, veteran glass maker Chris Johnson invites small groups into his studio to learn the basics of glassblowing. In roughly two hours, participants select their favorite colors, swirl them into 2,000 degree glass, and produce simple, glass objects that they can take home the following day.

Step Inside a Local Artist Studio
For a peek inside Santa Cruz’s flourishing art scene, pop into PF Atelier, a modern gallery and jewelry workshop of Paola Favatà. Trained in Florence, Italy, Paola worked as an architect in the Bay Area before turning her attention to mixed media artwork and one-of-a-kind jewelry that she fashions in house. A popular destination during monthly First Friday art crawls, the gallery regularly exhibits the works of other local and international artists as well.


Retro-Hip Glamour
Having just completed a multi-million dollar refurb, the beachfront Dream Inn sports a stylish new look for its 165 rooms, pool deck, and lobby. A hip, surf-themed aesthetic adorns refreshed interiors, tropical drinks flow from a new poolside bar, and a new lobby lounge features a vintage jukebox and micro coffee cart pouring espresso drinks from Verve Coffee Roasters. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the big, panoramic views of the Santa Cruz shoreline from every guest room.

Need more tips to help plan your summer? Check out our site where you’ll find things to do, places to stay, and the latest happenings via our blog and event calendar.

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