Open Studios Hot Spots County Guide

As summer gives way to autumn, one of the most celebrated fall traditions in Santa Cruz County, the Arts Council Open Studios Art Tour, returns for its yearly celebration of visual arts. Join us this October for the 37th annual Open Studios Art Tour, hosted by the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County. This remarkable event is open to visitors and locals alike looking to enjoy the best of the artistic community here in Santa Cruz County. The event is both free and self-guided, showcasing the talents of 322 artists working across a multitude of mediums throughout the county. This year features a record number of new artists participating in the Art Tour that you won’t want to miss! Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or a newcomer to the scene, Open Studios offers a unique opportunity to connect personally with artists, witness their creative processes through tutorials or demonstrations, and purchase art directly from the source.

The event spans the first three weekends of October, with studios divided between North and South County, culminating in an All County weekend featuring 277 artists countywide. There are various ways to plan your tour, all of which are free and accessible, from picking up artist guides at Good Times drop-off points to following Open Studios on Instagram, using the free app, or simply following the inviting lime green signs scattered throughout the county that will guide you to studios.

Save the dates for Open Studios:

  • Oct. 7 – 8th: South County artists – from the Yacht Harbor and South
  • Oct. 14 – 15th: North County artists – from the Yacht Harbor and North
  • Oct. 21 – 22nd: All County

Open Studios artists open up their homes, personal art studios, creative spaces, and pop-up in locations across Santa Cruz County from Davenport to Watsonville in a stunning display of the deep artistic roots in our community. With so many incredible artists to visit during the Open Studios Art Tour, here is a guide to some of the hot spots in each county that have a high density of artists that can all be visited in a single location!

All County

Even though All County weekend is the final weekend in the Open Studios Art Tour, there are a few spots where artist seekers can visit to get a feel for artists across the individual counties or plan their trips. Every person looking to learn more about Open Studios can check out the Santa Cruz Art League’s Preview Exhibit, running from September 29 to October 22. This captivating showcase spotlights the creative genius of over 300 Open Studios artists, providing a perfect launchpad for your artistic adventure. Wander through the gallery, where visitors can uncover artwork samples of the studios you simply can’t miss in both North and South Counties. Plus, mark your calendars for a chance to meet the artists in person during the public reception on Sunday, October 1st, from 3-6 p.m. If you attend the public reception, you can even enjoy the convenience of free bike valet parking.

South County

This year in South County there are 128 artists and 14 artists in Watsonville including 5 artists that are new to the tour. Stretching from the picturesque countryside of Watsonville and Corralitos all the way up the coast through Live Oak, the South County artists have a wealth of artistic variety you won’t want to miss on your art tour! There are a few great clusters of artists to check out including the 17th Avenue studios and the Aptos Warehouse studios. In the Downtown Watsonville area there is a small cluster of artists and visitors can also check out Pajaro Valley Arts where Josefina Rocha and Hermelinda Vasquez-Matias will be!

North County

All across North County, spanning from the Santa Cruz Harbor up the North Coast into the Santa Cruz Mountains, there are 194 fabulous studios to visit but if you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck in a centralized location definitely check out the Tannery Arts Center and the Mission Street Extension studios. This year there are thirteen artists located within the Tannery which is a record-breaking number of artists for this single area! Visitors to the Tannery can see the studios of Gazelle Parsons, Chris Mosley, Amanda Hess & Bree Karpavage, Margaret Niven, Anna Cummins, and more. The Mission Street Extension studios will have eleven artists in the area near the old Wrigley building. These pockets of artists make it easy to enjoy a variety of artists without having to relocate to another area.

Whether you visit a hundred studios over the three weekends or just a single artist, the opportunity to unite the community with their local creators is what makes the Open Studios Art Tour so special. To learn more about the in-depth experience of what it is like to go to Open Studios check out this Guide to Open Studios. So get out and explore the creative worlds of local Santa Cruz County artists this October!

Header image by Ben Ingram; Last image by Liz Birnbaum, The Curated Feast; All other images by Monica Multer