Just across the Monterey Bay from Santa Cruz, the 119th US Open is set to hit the green at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 13 – 16 in 2019. Golf lovers from near and far will converge for four days of tournament tradition at an event historically marked with greatness by players like Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell, Jack Nicklaus, and Brooks Koepka. Fortunate fans will trail their favorite players on the course, while at-home spectators will be posted-up on the La-Z-Boy for at least half the day throughout the event.
Now, if the only golfer’s name you recognized in the above list is Tiger Woods, you may fall into the non-golf fan category – and that’s okay! Golf fan or not, we’ve got some unique ways to experience Santa Cruz County. So whether you’re looking to stretch your legs and grab some grub between rounds, or would rather avoid the tourney all together, here’s what to do during the US Open, besides watching the US Open:
Hit Up Pleasure Point
Whether you bring the board or not, hanging on the cliffs of Pleasure Point is sure to make you feel like you DID something. Watch surfers at the famed surf spot, eat some killer burritos at The Point Market or Chill Out Cafe, and explore the shops in this laid-back oceanside neighborhood.
Take a Trek at Wilder Ranch
Experience the rugged beauty of Wilder Ranch on the Old Landing Cove Trail. Hike down to secluded beaches, take in the ocean air, and watch wildlife as you meander the coast side trail overlooking the Pacific.
Sample the Brew Scene
The beer scene has been flourishing in Santa Cruz for the last five years and there’s no better way to get the scoop on what’s been happening than to do some sampling! Pour Taproom in Downtown Santa Cruz is a must for beer fans. With over 60 beers on tap, right at your fingertips (literally), you can sample old-world and new-world favorites, along with many local Santa Cruz brews.
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.
Dine Al Fresco
With 300 days of sunshine, it’s no wonder outdoor patios abound in the Santa Cruz area. From beachfront decks to secret garden patios, you can experience some delicious food in some pretty spectacular places. Check out the top 20 patios in Santa Cruz County, so you can enjoy the local flavors and views.
Drive Up to Davenport
Famous Highway 1 is as scenic as it comes on the stretch from Santa Cruz to Davenport. Ocean to your left, and rolling hills and ag fields all around, you’ll love the views as you hug the coastal curves on the drive north. With exploration, and Instagram-worthy stops like Shark Fin Cove, Panther, and Old Davenport Pier, you’ll definitely be inspired to extend the adventure.
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.
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 Birichino Winery’s stylish downtown tasting room to a series of walkable wineries on the Westside including MJA and Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard.
Taste the South County Bounty
The Pajaro Valley and Watsonville, also known as “south county,” is just north of Monterey County and is well worth a visit. A weekly Farmer’s Market complete with the area’s agricultural bounty, plus delicious Mexican food favorites like elote, tacos, and more, this one-stop-market-shop will be a feast for the mouth and eyes. Go directly to the fields and stop by a farm like Live Earth or Gizdich to pick your own strawberries (which are in season in June – and pretty much year-round in the area).
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 little more seclusion? 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.