Find Your Awe in Santa Cruz County

Striking us with a sense of wonder that both thrills and inspires, the feeling of awe transcends emotion in a way that is a challenge to put into words. Awe can be found all around us, if we keep an eye out for it: watching as the sun sets the sky ablaze with color, reflected in the gleaming ocean; spotting the electrifying yellow of a banana slug contrasted against the dark forest floor; discovering the vibrant taste of fresh produce at the farmers’ market; or admiring the stunning brushstrokes of a local artist’s mural. Finding everyday awe comes with ease when exploring the community, nature, and beauty to be found throughout Santa Cruz County.  

Essential to our well-being, the feeling of awe can be elicited by experiences that amplify curiosity and build our sense of wonder, provoking the mind to expand our perspective. Awe is often thought of in tandem with the vastness of the world: the breathtaking view of a sweeping vista atop a mountain, or the majestic glitter of the sun shining on the blue sea. However, Dr. Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at U.C. Berkeley, shares that awe can also be found in the day-to-day moments, especially in the simplicity of human kindness. In Santa Cruz County, a place that celebrates and cares deeply for its community, there are ample opportunities to witness this awe-inspiring goodness for yourself.  

Sea Anemone at Santa Maria’s Beach | Liz Birnbaum, The Curated Feast

Cultivate that sense of wonder by giving yourself the time to slow down and witness the spectacular world around you. Behold the brilliant color and sweet smell of a ripe strawberry, freshly picked. Keep your eyes peeled in the tide pools for the delicate purple rays of the ochre sea star, a lucky find. Soak in the dappled light of a eucalyptus grove as magnificent monarchs flutter and soar overhead. Notice how delicate wisps come together to form marine fog, transforming the landscape as it gently wraps the coast in its soft, dewy blanket. As you set into motion this feeling of wonder, it becomes increasingly clear that each glorious moment of awe experienced is just part of an incredibly intricate, connected world.  

Santa Cruz Mountains | Liz Birnbaum, The Curated Feast

Reflecting on the context and connection of the wonders of the world sets the stage for finding even more awe. Santa Cruz County, with its majestic redwoods, stunning coastline, magical marine layer, and wondrous terrains, is a whole world within one county. When our sense of awe is activated, so too is our motivation to do our part to preserve and protect these majestic places for the global community and for generations to come.  

Become a curious observer of the world around you, taking interest in everything from the simple to the splendid, and awe will find you. Feel your sense of wonder grow as you find your awe in Santa Cruz County!