The Top 3 Family Hikes in Santa Cruz County

Old Cove Landing Trail, Wilder Ranch

Santa Cruz County is home to some of the most beautiful State Parks in California.

Filled with endless trails for walking and hiking, our local state parks offer amazing scenery as well as opportunities to view local wildlife.  Best of all, many of the hiking trails in Santa Cruz County are perfect for the whole family to do together.

Here are the top 3 family friendly hikes in Santa Cruz:

[Read more…]

Davenport Landing Beach: For Surfers and Swingers

Davenport Landing Beach Swing

Are you into wild and rugged NorCal beaches but not so into roughing it down a sketchy cliffside?

Looking for a spot you can tow a full ice chest or access via wheelchair, that doesn’t require you to just “hold it” until you get back to civilization?

Davenport Landing Beach has all that, and  a swing set, which makes you wonder: Why don’t all beaches have swing sets?

[Read more…]

Law of the Leash: Where to (Legally) Exercise Your Dog in Santa Cruz

Olive Springs Trail Soquel
Imagine 51,000 dogs crowded onto Mitchell’s Cove Beach on West Cliff.

That’s what would happen if every dog in Santa Cruz County gathered at the only off-leash beach in Santa Cruz.

Mitchell’s Cove is the only beach in Santa Cruz County where dogs are allowed to play, fetch, swim and run off-leash.  Another startling fact to throw at you…off-leash romp time is limited to before 10:00 am and after 4:00 pm.

Just east of Mitchell’s Cove is Its Beach. This beach is ironically referred to by some (including Google Maps) as “Dog Beach,” even though dogs are not allowed off-leash. Once upon a time Its beach did have legal off-leash hours.

“Our off-leash beach areas are minimal and few for the tens of thousands of dogs in this county,” says Karen Simmons, Chair of the Friends of Lighthouse Field (FOLF).  FOLF would like to see Its Beach allow dogs off-leash, “We are a beach community, and as a community, designating less than two percent of county beaches for dog recreation seems reasonable,” says Simmons.

Eastside pups face the same conundrum. Most people think of the beaches from 20th to 26th Avenue as being dog beaches, since we’re used to seeing happy pups frolic there. But nope, not legal.

Ted M. Coopman, Live Oak Off Leash Advocates (LOOLA) spokesperson, says, “It is the tale of two cities – it is the best of places and worst of places. On the upside, most locals are very dog-friendly, and if you do not mind the technical off-leash violation there are plenty of open spaces and beaches. However, compared to Carmel, San Francisco, or other bay area cities, we are way behind the curve.”

On visual cues alone, it’s confusing where you can legally exercise your dog in Santa Cruz. To help set things straight, we’ve gone on a dog park crawl and put together the following lists of dog-friendly recreation areas. If the curve changes, we’ll be sure to let you know. Paws crossed!


How to Use This Post

This is a long post, featuring 40 places you can take your dog (and 13 places dogs aren’t allowed), so to make it easy to navigate we created these handy little buttons below. Click on any of the four buttons to jump to the section of your choice:


[Read more…]

King Tides Reveal Tide Pool Treasures in Pleasure Point [Photo Gallery]

Pleasure Point Tidepooling

King Tides have brought extreme high and low tides to Santa Cruz the past couple days, and will continue to do so through Thursday.

The high tides give some insight into how rising sea levels impact our coastal regions.  However, it’s the low tides that are drawing crowds.  These extreme low tides, combined with warm and sunny December days, are proving to be a tidepooling paradise.

[Read more…]

Santa Cruz Christmas Tree Farms

Ward Ranch, Santa Cruz

Ward Ranch in Bonny Doon

You can buy a Christmas tree in just about any big commercial parking lot these days.  You can pick up a gallon of milk, a carton of eggs, and oh yeah…a Christmas tree while you’re at it.

While that may be convenient it lacks the fun and traditional spirit of going out into nature to pick out a Christmas tree.  If you’re looking for a more authentic Christmas tree experience then Santa Cruz is a pretty great place to be.

There are a lot of Christmas tree farms located in the Santa Cruz mountains.  These farms let you tap into your inner lumberjack by letting you choose and cut your own tree.

There are also plenty of options for those of you who are looking for the pre-cut variety.

[Read more…]

228 Interesting, Odd, Beautiful & Historic Things to See in Santa Cruz County

228 Interesting, Odd, Beautiful & Historic Things to See in Santa Cruz CountySanta Cruz is easy to fall in love with.

We have great people, amazing natural surroundings, a lot of history, and a ridiculous amount of uniqueness that can only be described as being very “Santa Cruz.”

It’s natural, given the pride that many of us feel in our town, to assume that we know Santa Cruz inside and out.

However, authors Steven Bignell and Susan Bruijnes have just released a new book which is likely to challenge your knowledge of Santa Cruz.  And it just may lead you to some great new discoveries.

The book, 228 Interesting, Odd, Beautiful & Historic Things to See in Santa Cruz County, is indeed packed full of interesting things to see and do in Santa Cruz.

[Read more…]

Why You Don’t Have to Be a Banana Slug to Enjoy UCSC

UCSC Meadow

The Santa Cruz community often has mixed opinions about UC Santa Cruz.

Since the school’s opening in the 1960’s the campus has used a lot of community resources, and has increased traffic and population, to the chagrin of some locals.

However, UCSC has a lot to offer everyone in Santa Cruz, not just the students and faculty.  Here are some great things to do at UCSC which every member of the community can take advantage of.

[Read more…]

Guide to the Best Santa Cruz Beaches

Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz County is home to some of the best beaches on the West Coast.

Surfing?  Absolutely.

Tide pooling?  Check.

Miles of uninterrupted sand, and beautiful sunset views?  mmm hmmm.

Beach volleyball, Sand Castle Contests, Beach Concerts?  Got those too.

Nude Beaches?  Uh…

Guide to the Best Santa Cruz Beaches:

Santa Cruz beaches have something for everyone. Some are favorites with tourists due to proximity to hotels and shopping while others tend to be local favorites. Below you will find all the best Santa Cruz beaches. We’ve given you two options for navigating this post:

View on a Map

Santa Cruz Beaches Map

[Read more…]

Beginner’s Guide to Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Santa Cruz

Stand up paddle boarder at Natural Bridges

Stand-up paddle boarding is creating waves.

As one of the fastest growing water sports in the world, Santa Cruz locals interested in having a little adventure on the water need look no further than in their very own backyard.

In the last several years, stand-up paddle boarding has become increasingly popular. With roots in the Hawaiian and Polynesian Islands, stand-up paddle boarding has been around since the 1960’s but made it’s way to the coast of California in 2000.

It’s popularity has sky rocketed, partly because it is fairly easy to learn–within an hour of practice most people can manage to make their way through calm waters.

[Read more…]

Classic Beach Hangout: Seabright Beach

Seabright Beach

Seabright is the valedictorian of Santa Cruz beaches.

You know that kid who is just good at everything? Star of the basketball team and academic success, who aces the SAT, and somehow manages to look cool doing it?

Yup, that’s Seabright.

Seabright delivers on everything important in a beach. While it may not have the flashy attractions of the boardwalk or the unique wildlife of natural bridges, Seabright might just be the best classic beach hangout in town.

[Read more…]