Travel Blog

Treat Yo’ Self in Santa Cruz County!

All photos by Garrick Ramirez

You needn’t be a fan of the Parks and Recreation series to know what it means to treat yo’ self. With three liberating words, you can blow the budget, ditch the diet, and fill your day with massages, cupcakes, and sparkling wine—and not necessarily in that order. So, drop the kiddos with the sitter, don your fancy sunglasses, and postpone giving up carbs to a later date, because it’s time to Treat. Yo’. Self.

Spa Time

photo courtesy of Chaminade Resort & Spa

Wipe the slate clean by treating yourself to a lavish, muscle-melting massage. While Santa Cruz County abounds with talented practitioners, Chaminade Resort & Spa offers the whole wellness package. Secluded hilltop setting with private zen garden? Check! Himalayan salt saunas aglow with soothing amber lights? Check! Over-the-top body treatments such as a body glow sugar scrub and pampering facial with foot and hand massage? You’ll want to spend the day here, and you can with an all-day spa pass that also grants access to a well appointed fitness center, lush hiking trails through pristine Eucalyptus groves, and glimmering outdoor pool.

Retail Therapy

Can you really treat yourself dressed in the same ol’ duds? Upgrade your outfit and your look with a jaunt to Santa Cruz’s Pacific Avenue, a shopping Mecca lined with independent boutiques and stylish outfitters such as Pacific Trading Company. While you may not score the Jaden Smith shoes coveted by Aziz Ansari’s character in Parks and Recreation, you will find a thoughtfully curated selection of women’s tops, jeans, dresses, and bags from designers such as Citizens of Humanity, James Perse, and Mother Denim.

Rock the Yacht

Have access to a private yacht parked in Santa Cruz harbor? You do on treat yo’ self day! Chardonnay Sailing Charters offers luxury outings on Monterey Bay aboard a well appointed 70’ racing vessel. Plus, you’ll feel like Thurston Howell, III grazing on catered spreads with bites from local eateries, craft wines and beers, and a full blown champagne brunch on the weekend. There are numerous outings to choose from, but start with the popular sunset sail where you’ll sip wine, nibble hors d’oeuvres, and watch the sun dip into the Pacific.

Afternoon Pick-Me-Up

Adorable cupcakes, artisan ice cream, and high-end chocolates? Treat yo’ self! Santa Cruz County may have more places to indulge a sweet tooth than it has surf breaks. For heavenly cupcakes, head to Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola where a seemingly mile-long counter is crammed with pastries, pies, and every baked good imaginable. At The Penny Ice Creamery, made-from-scratch, seasonal flavors are scooped up in homemade waffle cones with toppings such as the practically mandatory toasted marshmallow fluff. In Scotts Valley, Ashby Confections sparkles like a jewelry shop for sweets with exquisite, high-end chocolates that will swear you off grocery store brands forever.

Wine O’Clock

What’s the perfect pairing to cupcakes (or an indulgent afternoon, or anything, really)? A flight of local vino! For handcrafted wines and fun conversation, pop into Birichino whose fetching, light-filled tasting room exudes Parisian boho vibes with a beautiful, pewter bar illuminated by big globe pendants. Perch yourself on a stool and sip your way through the winery’s yummy and affordable grenache, pinots, and utterly delicious, warm-weather sipper, Malvasia Bianca.

Creative Dining at Hollins House

Golfers know Pasatiempo as a renowned championship course tucked in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Foodies know it for the historic Hollins House restaurant with an elegant dining room housed in the dashing 1920s home of Pasatiempo’s late founder, Marion Hollins. Approaching the ivy-sheathed home with gurgling fountain, you’ll half-expect the door to be answered by a tuxedo-clad Jeeves. Instead, warm staff will greet you and show you to your table with knock-out, hilltop views. It’s here that Chef John Paul Lechtenberg will dazzle you with refined, seasonal dishes that, along with the setting, make the property a wedding destination fave. Choose from composed plates of gnocchi with duck carnitas, grilled Spanish octopus with Mexicali mole, and braised lamb shank in a coconut tomato broth. In other words: treat yo’ self!

Sugar scrubs and marshmallow fluff are just a few ways to pamper yourself in Santa Cruz County. Discover many more ways to shop, dine, and relax in style on our site, VisitSantaCruz.org.