Santa Cruz has some terrific wineries, particularly in the mountains, such as Bonnie Doon Winery. It also has great beaches and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. But, what Santa Cruz really loves to do, is celebrate. There are events and festivals all year along. (Which makes any time a great time to visit.)
Does February seem like a dreary month? Not so in Santa Cruz. The Annual Clam Chowder Cook-Off and tasting is held on the Beach Boardwalk. You can also choose to be a judge. Whoppee—that would be a whole lot of chowder, and if you love it, do it. In early March there is the free Jazz on the Wharf. The Wharf also hosts Woodies on the Wharf (a lot of fun) in late June. It’s a celebration of classic surf-mobiles. What else could it be?! Halloween on the Wharf is not to be missed.
The Santa Cruz Blues Festival happens Memorial Day weekend. Big names play, and the tickets sell out fast. It’s actually about ten miles south in Aptos, which is truly a wonderful beach. Most beaches down that way are. You can also enjoy the Boulder Creek Art, Wine and Music Festival up in the mountains. The hills are covered with redwoods and orchards, and the air is perfect. Local blues and jazz bands are a perfect pairing with terrific food in the redwoods.
The Cabrillo Music, Art and Wine Festival is the city’s outdoor food, wine and entertainment extravaganza. There are lots of surfing events (go to the surfing museum), and there is also the world’s largest Kayak Surf Festival in March. In late May the longboard surfers come out for the Annual Longboard Club Invitational. This is the longest running surfing event on the west coast. The international event, O’Neill Cold Water Classic, is held in Mid-October. Because of the currents, the water is warmest then.
Any time you go to Santa Cruz you’ll be able to taste some wonderful and unique wines, local produce and cheeses. While you’re there, go to a festival. What fun!