Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Santa Cruz, California, USA

Santa Cruz, California, USA, North America

By Sarah Bargetto 

Having brought you amazing waves and surfing expenditures, Chris Rene from the X-Factor, the movie Chasing Mavericks, the legendary Santa Cruz logo, James Durbin, a talented American Idol participant, and one of California’s best schools, UCSC– Santa Cruz, California is a paradigm of perfection, or as close to perfection as one can get!
Santa Cruz, California, home to friendly beach bums and thrill-seeking wave riders, is located in Northern California in the United States with a population of approximately 60,000 local residents. Santa Cruz’s beautiful beaches and “gnarly” waves prove it to be an ideal summer vacation to young families and a lax getaway for couples of any ages. To the locals, Santa Cruz is a sacred place of beauty, a mix of lush forests and eternal coastlines.

Santa Cruz is positioned on the north side of the Monterey Bay, which provides coasts for many surrounding towns and mountains filled with towering redwoods make up the backside of the city. Within Santa Cruz County, there are a multitude of small beach towns and residential areas and neighborhoods such as Capitola, Scott’s Valley, East and West Cliff, and Aptos that encompass Santa Cruz City itself. There are a few main streets that run through the county, allowing for easier access and navigation including River St., Mission St., Soquel Dr., and 41st Ave. Although these streets may be the busiest, they virtually take you anywhere from one town to the next.

All About the Locals
In Santa Cruz, the term “locals” is taken with pride. Most Santa Cruzians feel a sense of ownership over the town, and are sometimes protective. But this does not stop their great hospitality and interest in sharing the great place they call home.
Most people believe that the locals are sun-kissed beach-goers and skilled surfers, when they are much more than that. They are an ethnically diverse population, they are stewards of the earth, and they are a family-driven community. The most important matter to the local citizens is the quality of the beaches. There are many organizations, which strive for cleaner beaches, and local high schools contribute and collaborate as well. The main concern most locals have is the disrespect that travelers and tourists have, leaving trash and tarnishing the marine and terrestrial environment.

The locals also partake in activities such as any other city or
town would. A favorite of the locals is the Farmer’s Market, which showcases local organic fruits, flowers, vegetables, and other crafty items such as homemade candles. If you are ever in Santa Cruz on a Saturday morning, be sure to check out the Farmer’s Market at the local community college Cabrillo in Aptos. Another local favorite is the Wednesday Night Concerts during the summer at Capitola Beach. Families and groups of friends join together with a picnic on the sand to listen and dance to local bands and music groups. Preforming live on a small stage makes for a fun time. Just behind the beach is the Capitola Village, it’s filled with shops and cafes and restaurants to please everyone.
The locals in Santa Cruz are very active and enjoy being out on the town. On any given day one would see a great amount of people walking along the East and West Cliff, enjoying the view and chatting it up with their walking buddies. Santa Cruz is a very pet friendly environment, and is especially considerate of dogs. Locals enjoy the wildlife that Santa Cruz has to offer such as the Nisene Marks State Park and the Wilder Ranch State Park. These are exemplary locations to enjoy mountain biking, walking, hiking, and observing nature.

Santa Cruz treasures its most prized possession –the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk– situated in the downtown area. It consists of a full boardwalk with endless amounts of rides, including the notorious Giant Dipper Roller coaster, a wharf holding a little over twenty-five facilities dedicated to dining, excursions, and shopping, a bowling alley, a casino for arcade games, including laser tag, an indoor mini golf course, and a pool table room. In addition, it is lined with the Santa Cruz Beach, which is composed of multiple volleyball courts and a stage for live performances by various artists ranging from Eddie Money to different circus groups to James Durbin.

Recommended hotels include the Seascape Resort, located in Aptos, for a more secluded stay, the Hilton in Scotts Valley for business or pleasure, the Dream Inn for family vacations with spectacular views, and the Fairfield Inn by Marriot, which is recently new to Santa Cruz. Seascape is an ideal honeymoon location on the cliffs of Aptos just twenty minutes south of Santa Cruz. It bears two swimming pools, an exquisite restaurant, Sanderlings, and a private beach perfect for roasting marshmallows while the sun sets. The Hilton, just seven minutes north of Santa Cruz, poses as an adequate hotel for short or long stays. The Dream Inn, sits on top of a hill in the heart of Santa Cruz, overlooking the bay with views of the boardwalk and wharf. The Fairfield is located on the opposite side of town in Capitola. It is reasonably close to many different shops along 41st Ave and a twenty-minute walk or a five-minute drive to the beach.

A new favorite tourist attraction is the Santa Cruz Warriors, a basketball team for the NBA Development League. They play on their home court in downtown Santa Cruz, minutes away from the Boardwalk in the Kaiser Permanente Arena. Tourists as well as locals enjoy these games. Prices are fairly affordable and it suffices for a fun family outing. Many people have jumped on the bandwagon and have joined the Santa Cruz Warrior hype since their recent achievements and excellent performance.

Local Eateries
Santa Cruz produces some of the most delectable foods grown from organic, local farms and gardens.  Restaurants range from fine dining to on-the-go meals. Starting with some of the finest, there is Hollin’s House, Café Cruz, and the Shadowbrook. Hollin’s House is a fancy high-end restaurant up in the hills, looking down on Santa Cruz; it reveals a picturesque view while dining. Café Cruz is an affordable restaurant with indoor, outdoor, and garden seating, serving fine wine, pastas, salads, and rotisserie chicken. The Shadowbrook located in Capitola, sits upon the Soquel Creek with indoor and outdoor seating, including private rooms. It serves fresh fish, meat, pastas, salads, and tasty. Zoccoli’s is more of an upscale deli where you can order freshly made sandwiches and salads or choose from a variety of soups, pastas, and pastries. Pleasure Pizza is also an on-the-go restaurant, but it satisfies your savory needs. This pizza place is a veteran restaurant to the Santa Cruz Community, located at the end of 41st Ave, near the Point.

Santa Cruz also indulges your sweet tooth with local candy shops such as Marini’s who has three stores, one downtown, one on the wharf, and one at the Boardwalk, and is famous for their saltwater taffy. Mackenzie’s Chocolates is a family run chocolate shop in the middle of Santa Cruz, which makes creams, truffles, and a variety of other nuts and chews. Mackenzie’s even makes their own caramel and marshmallow for their handmade chocolates.

Wine is also a big investor in the Santa Cruz food industry. With local wineries such as Bargetto Winery, Soquel Vineyards, Storrs, and Hunter Hill, Santa Cruz restaurants are prone to serve them as palatable as they come.

Nightlife in Santa Cruz exists as well. The Bowling Alley features a full bar with karaoke nights. The Catalyst allows for partygoers to enjoy live music at a low cost to see big name and upcoming artists. For families and children under the legal drinking age, grab a blanket and some firewood and head back down to the beach for a bonfire with friends. Roasting marshmallows and feeling the ocean breeze is a good way to spend any night.

What To Avoid
Santa Cruz is generally a safe area, especially during the day, but certain parts of town at certain times, most Santa Cruzians would say are “sketchy”. The downtown area attracts many homeless people who generally don’t think of how others perceive them. So they come off as either crazy or weird, which is only a stereotype because most are friendly and just lingering about. Most people tend to stay away from these areas during night, and I would not recommend walking alone just for precaution, but there is no need to freak out if someone approaches you. There have been few extreme incidents, so there is not enough evidence to say they are “dangerous” people.

So, come and visit Santa Cruz. You are bound to have a good time whether it be relaxing on the beach, walking downtown, or hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Santa Cruz is a welcoming and friendly town with an adventure waiting!

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