We love looking at Santa Cruz County through a historical lens. From the impeccably restored 19th century Victorians to old lime kilns that helped build San Francisco, Santa Cruz County has many unique and historical treasures waiting to be discovered, enjoyed, and sniffed – sniffed? Yes! Bring the pup along as you walk, wag, wine taste, and more through Santa Cruz County history.
1. Take a Walk in the Historical Downtown District
Just a short stroll from the contemporary shops of downtown Santa Cruz, you’ll find some of the city’s most elaborate Victorian homes along the charming, tree-lined Walnut Avenue. Let the pooch get some fresh air as you marvel at impeccably restored 19th century Queen Annes, Italianates, and Colonial Revivals—some illuminated with flickering gas lamps. Thanks to the Museum of Art & History, nearly all are labeled with informative blue plaques which state the home’s name and date of construction. For more detail, download a hugely informative walking tour map from the City of Santa Cruz. After you strolled the historical neighborhood, head back downtown for some dog-friendly patio dining at Walnut Avenue Cafe – a spot known for its great breakfast, brunch, and lunch options, plus a dog menu!
2. Hike to the Lime Kilns at Pogonip
Hit the trails of Pogonip with the pup to see the historic ruins of the lime kilns. It wasn’t just redwood logs that helped build burgeoning Bay Area cities during the 19th century. Lime extracted from limestone quarries served as an essential element for producing mortar and concrete. You can view the monumental remnants of this once budding industry within Pogonip, a 640-acre hilltop nature preserve. Follow the Lime Kiln Trail into a redwood forest, and you’ll discover three massive stone furnaces—dramatically overgrown by moss and greenery—that processed the lime that helped build San Francisco. Your pup may not be as interested in the historical treasures on this hike, but he’ll love sniffing along the way!
3. All Aboard a Historic Train through the Redwoods
See California’s towering redwoods from an authentic 19th century steam train through the Big Trees to the summit of Bear Mountain at Roaring Camp Railroads. Well-behaved dogs are welcome aboard and will love to put their nose to the sky as they take in the smells of the redwoods. As you ride the train, conductors narrate the history of Roaring Camp, the railroad, and the forest. Roaring Camp’s steam engines date from 1890 and are among the oldest and most authentically preserved narrow-gauge steam engines providing regularly scheduled passenger service in America.
And for the active pups that want to get some miles in, there are plenty of trails and grounds to explore! Just be sure to leash and clean up after your pet.
4. Wine Taste at a Historic Winery
Sip award-winning wines as your leashed pup enjoys the creekside courtyard of Bargetto Winery. Located in Soquel, Bargetto has been producing handcrafted wines in the Santa Cruz Mountains for nearly 90 years. Brothers, Phillip and John Bargetto purchased the present site of Bargetto Winery in 1918 and began making wine out of an old barn on the property. During Prohibition (1919-1933), the brothers continued to make wine for family and friends and sold produce grown at the family’s ranch. When Prohibition ended in 1933, the brothers devoted more time to the wine business and began to sell their wines wholesale.
Another local wine favorite with a touch of historical intrigue is Soquel Vineyards. Soquel Vineyards was established in 1987 when twin brothers Peter and Paul Bargetto (yes, the same Bargetto family), and their childhood friend Jon Morgan decided to develop their own label and ended up producing some of the best wines in the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation. There are many interesting historical touches about the property – and not only the familial history of the Bargetto’s. The estate has Italian roof tiles that date back to the mid-1700s and the winery doors were fashioned by Jon Morgan from an old 12,000-gallon redwood tank salvaged from the original Bargetto winery. Your pup will love to be by your side as you savor the wines and history of these two beloved wineries.
Want to continue your dog-friendly wine tour? Check out this helpful blog!
5. Historical Points of Interest
Stop by the Felton Covered Bridge Park and marvel at a California State Historical Landmark. Built in 1892, the Felton Covered Bridge is one of the few covered bridges remaining in the state. There is a nearby playground and a wide grassy expanse with a walking path perfect for pets in need of some fresh air. This location is less than a half a mile from Roaring Camp Railroads, so it could be a great addition to a Felton historical tour!
Looking for a Historical Point of Interest with an ocean view? Stop by the iconic Steamer Lane/Lighthouse Field State Beach where you can watch seasoned surfers shred the waves in the Pacific. Did you know that Santa Cruz is the birthplace of mainland surfing? Look out for the brick plaque that shares some of the history behind Santa Cruz being the birthplace of mainland surfing. Your pooch will love walking miles of coastal path along West Cliff Drive and taking in the ocean air. Take the stairs down to the beach at Lighthouse Field (aka, Its Beach) or Mitchell’s Cove for some dog-friendly beach time.