SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CALIFORNIA — This summer, there’s no shortage of new things to see and do in California’s quintessential beach town. In Santa Cruz, a nod to surfing history, a new place to grind, a diminutive museum, a resort renovation and more are all on tap for summer 2020.

Commemorative Plaque at Cowell Beach Honors Santa Cruz Surf Club

Santa Cruz, California has long been recognized as the historical birthplace of mainland surfing in the United States, when in 1885, three Hawaiian prices who were attending military academy in what is now Silicon Valley came to Santa Cruz and surfed the beaches here on redwood boards crafted from a local lumber mill. The latest historical addition to the area where surfing began is a commemorative plaque honoring the Santa Cruz Surfing Club. Established in 1936, the club began when a group of 27 surfers joined together to hold regular meetings, elect officers, and share their knowledge of this fledgling sport. These pioneers of the waves are credited with helping to cultivate the sport at the local level. Designed locally and made of 12,000 pounds of concrete, the bronze relief shows the group’s clubhouse and includes the names of the original club members. The plaque overlooks Cowell Beach, and is a tribute to those whose talent helped foster the sport of surfing in Santa Cruz.

“World’s Smallest Bowling Museum” Opens in Santa Cruz  

A diminutive exhibit – curated by an archivist at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – has opened in Santa Cruz. The exhibit showcases the history of bowling by the beach with a display of bowling artifacts, photographs and memorabilia from the Boardwalk’s Archives and is housed inside the Boardwalk Bowl, adjacent to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Bowling has a long history in the Santa Cruz beach area beginning in 1909. However, 1930 marked the last year of bowling on the Boardwalk, although duckpin alleys emerged throughout the first half of the 1940s. A set of antique duckpins is on display in the new exhibit. The Santa Cruz bowling community also shared their own stories and memorabilia. The unique items in the exhibit tell the story of bowling in the Santa Cruz beach area and the people who have played integral roles in creating that history. 

Bistro One Twelve Opens at the Tannery Arts Center

French-trained – and with a background that includes working with Top Chef Master and James Beard Award nominee Chris Cosentino at Cockscomb in San Francisco, and with Chef Sam Nuckols of Trois Mec, Liholiho Yacht Club and Petit Crenn – Chef Shannon Madison has reimagined a sweet spot at the Tannery Arts Center, a live-work artists’ cooperative in Santa Cruz. Once a working tannery for 145 years – and the oldest of its kind west of the Mississippi until it closed in 2001 – The Tannery Arts Center is now a vibrant gathering place for creative types and art lovers. Bistro One Twelve is based on farm-to-table freshness, served up in a California-cool, artistically-rich environment. Menu items include local coffee, baguette sandwiches with a French flair, gourmet flatbread pizzas, fresh salads, and other combinations influenced by California’s cultural diversity, Mediterranean climate, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. 

New Skatepark Opens in Seacliff

Skateboarding has been part of Santa Cruz-area culture for nearly half a century. This season, there’s a new spot to grind: just a block off Highway 1 in Aptos at Seacliff Village Park, Seacliff Skate Park features “skateable art,” a view of the Monterey Bay and the topography of the park references the SS Palo Alto, Aptos’ famed “concrete ship”, which graces the end of the pier at Seacliff State Beach, a 10-minute walk away. The 1.25-acre Seacliff Village Park boasts drought-resistant foliage and street trees, and a 15,000-square-foot center area landscaped with drought-resistant turf. Several locals artists created design features throughout the park.

Chef Mo L’Esperance at the Helm at Jack O’Neill Lounge and Restaurant 

The Santa Cruz Dream Inn – located overlooking Cowell Beach – has debuted a new chef heading up the onsite eatery, the Jack O’Neill Restaurant and Lounge. Mo L’Esperance is a California native, born and raised on the beach, where her passion for the ocean was ignited at an early age, which led to her dedication to sustainable seafood throughout her career. Formerly the Executive Chef of the eco-friendly Costanoa Resort in San Mateo County – as well as other notable restaurants – she developed a new menu for the Jack O’Neill restaurant maintaining the iconic, laid back California vibe consistent with the O’Neill brand. Menu items include healthy options which showcase the local area. The family-friendly Jack O’Neill restaurant honors the late surf icon and wetsuit pioneer, who helped bring surfing to the world stage. A bright space with spectacular views overlooking Cowell Beach, the space is filled with photos and memorabilia from the life the legendary surfer. The Jack O’Neill restaurant recently underwent a renovation and is outfitted with new décor, tables, chairs and place settings – surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the beach, wharf, and boardwalk. The lounge has been expanded to allow better access to outdoor seating on the balcony overlooking the coast, and features an expanded live music and entertainment program.

Chaminade Resort Unveils Renovations 

Once a private home and later a Catholic boys school, the Chaminade Resort and Spa is honoring its history with its current renovation. Built in 1930, tucked in the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking breathtaking views of the Monterey Bay, Chaminade Resort and Spa formed the ideal canvas for a fresh design. The foundation of the renovations was to maintain the integrity of the iconic Spanish Revival architecture by connecting the interior design to the architectural heritage in a Spanish-modern style, while also embracing the stunning natural surroundings of the property.  A new entry, lobby, restaurant, event and meeting spaces, and outdoor social spaces were refreshed with modern perspective, ensuring that the interiors meld harmoniously with the exterior. The onsite restaurant maximizes views of the sweeping horizon, and a new fireside lounge invites guests to relax in built-in banquettes around an iconic fireplace, designed to be reminiscent of a traditional Hacienda-style home. Bold tile-work and Spanish architectural design elements embrace the heritage of the property. Spanish-style lounge chairs are complimented by a simplistic built-in banquette, woven leather dining chairs are complimented by minimal sofa booths. The lighting fixtures celebrate traditional Mission-style design, with forged iron detailing, warm-toned shades, and handwoven leather detailing.

About VSCC: A private, non-profit corporation, Visit Santa Cruz County (VSCC) exists to enhance tourism and the economy by positioning Santa Cruz County as a visitor, conference and film destination. For more information, contact VSCC at +1.831.425.1234.  Or visit VSCC’s web site at

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