Situated 70 miles south of San Francisco on Highway 1 lies the beautiful coastal city of Santa Cruz.
The birthplace of surfing on the North American continent, Santa Cruz offers areas with varying waves, which makes it suitable for all surfers from novice to the more experienced. You can walk among the beautiful ancient redwood trees and visit some of the oldest vineyards in the country. Talking to the local farmers about growing their food really gave me a sense of the care and love they have when they tend the land.
Wine Tasting in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz’s mountainous terrain with its proximity to the ocean creates diverse microclimates and soils, making it the perfect growing ground of some of the best wine grapes in the USA. There are over 80 wineries in the area that produce some of the most distinct pinot noirs, cabernet sauvignons and clean, crisp chardonnays.
There are also many different wine-tasting environments, including family-owned vineyards on the summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the bustling wharf and downtown, where you can visit some of the best restaurants in the area.
I went to a family-owned winery with lovely outdoor grounds where I could sit at the picnic benches and enjoy gazing out over the lush green vineyard. Santa Cruz locals are health-conscious as well. The winery I visited keeps sulfites in their wines to a minimum, which was noticeable in the superb taste of their product.
Fresh Produce at the Farmers' Market
Visiting the Downtown Farmers' Market was a wonderful experience. Almost every stall offered organic produce, and many of the award-winning vendors featured some of the most delicious food I’ve tasted. Walking around the market, I was treated to samples of some of the juiciest and ripest fruits from peaches to apples and berries. I also sampled some raw, organic pomegranate juice, which I couldn’t resist purchasing along with the delectable peaches.
There were also meat and fish vendors, and even a furniture stall selling repurposed furniture made from wine barrels. Aside from the wonderful produce, you will find local musicians, artists and a perfect place to grab some lunch. One of the stalls was a pizza stand, where they bring in a brick-fire oven to make fresh pizzas using vegetables and meat toppings from the organic and fresh stands around the market. The Downtown Farmers' Market is one of five markets in Santa Cruz County, so make sure to enjoy this wonderful activity.
Dining in Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz shows the same dedication to healthy living with the food in restaurants, and many places offer field-to-table dinners with fresh, seasonal produce. I ate at one of the most popular lunch spots in town, The Picnic Basket, where I enjoyed a tasty salad whilst overlooking the ocean. For dinner, I visited another favorite downtown, Assembly, where I had a delicious charcuterie and cheese plate with a crisp pinot grigio, a perfect end to my day.
Beyond the amazing wine and food you can feast on, Santa Cruz also offers its visitors 300 days of sunshine a year, beautiful beaches, an admission-free boardwalk – where you can enjoy rides and play games – train tours and hiking through the stunning redwood forests. Santa Cruz really is a brilliant holiday destination for families.
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