By Neal Kearney
Whether you are in the midst of a budding romance or trying to reignite that long dormant spark with your significant other, Santa Cruz, California, is a great place for couples. It’s got everything: unbounded natural beauty, a quirky and creative community, as well as an amazing food, art, and live music scene. There are so many romantic activities to share with your partner here, choosing them can be a daunting task, especially if you are only on a weekend getaway. Here are five charming examples of the many ways in which to woo your significant other while in Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz is also known by the moniker, “Surf City, USA”. Our County’s 29 mile long coastline is home to some of California’s most iconic surf breaks, as well as venues suitable for beginners and first timers. Surfing is an activity that can make you feel truly alive. It’s a great workout, you get to mingle with ocean dwelling critters like dolphins and sea otters, and there’s nothing like the rush of speeding down a rolling breaker. If you and your significant other already surf, perfect! Stop by one of the local surf shops like Freeline Design, run by the Mel family, including Peter, who’s a bit of a local hero for his courageous big wave surfing and professional surf commentating gig. If you need gear, as they will rent out wetsuits as well as surfboards, long and short.
Stopping by a local surf shop like Freeline is also a great chance to gather some intel about the best places to surf according to your skill level, browse some surf related merchandise, and make a new friend or two. If going at it alone sounds daunting, don’t worry, there are a number of surf schools in the area with professional instructors who will make your experience safe and enjoyable. A surf date like this is great for bonding. Surfing is an extremely challenging sport, and if anything can bring two people closer, it’s watching your partner take an awkward wipeout, only to resurface with an ear to ear smile. Don’t forget the salty kisses.
A little cold and sore from that epic surf session? What could be better than a relaxing, private hot tub/sauna/tea date, followed by a yummy massage? Well Within Spa, is a hidden gem of sorts. Since 1985, this small piece of heaven has remained tucked discretely in the middle of downtown Santa Cruz. Each room overlooks a traditional Japanese garden with a koi pond and hypnotically trickling waterfall.
The tubs are complete with relaxing jets along with a Cedar lined sauna on hand to warm your bones. With soothing music playing in the background, herbal tea for two, as well as a shower with towels, shampoo, conditioner, and body gel, it’s hard not to feel pampered during your visit. This spa experience is perfect for weary travelers; or anyone who enjoys soaking in warm swirling water, while sipping tea with their partner in an enclosed sanctuary where the sound of trickling water is always present. They also offer aromatherapy massage and a “relaxation” facial treatment. A trip to the Well Within sensual and intimate date, one that keeps locals and visitors coming back time and time again.
Wednesday Evening Sailboat Races
Imagine having a glass of wine and some delicious appetizers while watching the sun set with your significant other, while a fleet colorful, recreational sailboats cruise by in droves after leaving your vacation home rentals. Sounds nice, right? Well, each Wednesday night in Santa Cruz, from April to October, local sailors set sail in the early evening to compete and have fun, all the while providing sea gazers a beautiful scene. This view this awesome spectacle, you can see the action from the beach or any of the harbor’s restaurants.
One of the best ways to enjoy this friendly competition is on the outdoor, top deck of the Crow’s Nest restaurant. The Crow’s Nest has been a Santa Cruz staple for the past 45 years, and the outer deck offers a gorgeous, panoramic view of the harbor, wharf, Steamer Lane lighthouse, and of course, the Wednesday night sailboat races. It doesn’t hurt that they have an “All-Night Happy Hour Wednesdays”, which begins start at 3:30 pm, where select appetizers are half-price and well drinks, house wines and pints are only $4.75!
If you’d rather opt for the beach vantage point, bring a bottle of wine, some cheese and crackers, and beach blanket to enjoy these vessels as they sail into the setting sun.
Scenic Capitola Picnic
Nestled between Pleasure Point and Aptos lies a quaint village named Capitola. It’s known as the oldest beach resort on the West Coast, and with a fishing wharf, popular beach strip, downtown shopping, and user friendly surf break, it’s arguably one of the most treasured places in all of Santa Cruz County. Downtown Capitola lies in a cleft between the cliffs, bisected by the Soquel Creek. This popular tourist and shopping area leads directly to Capitola Beach and the finally to a pair of jetties which mark the end of the beach. That’s where you’ll usually find the surfers riding mellow waves, usually on longboards. Colorful houses and hotels line the slopes of the town leading back up to the clifftops. On the opposite cliff you’ll find Depot Hill.
Depot Hill Stairs, the narrow, steep concrete flight that leads out of the Capitola Village leads to a bench that overlooks the entirety of Capitola Village, the wharf, as well as Opal Cliffs in the background. This awesome vantage point is a great way to enjoy the beauty of Capitola, and is extremely romantic. Plan a stroll with your loved one through the picturesque village, equipped with a picnic platter and some wine. Set your GPS to 104 cliff Ave, Capitola and it’ll get you to top of stairs, where you’ll find the bench with a view to die for. Enjoy a beautiful sunset with some tasty snacks and a drink or two. You’re sure to score major brownie points with this one.
How many of you remember being a kid at the roller rink, skating around with your friends doing the hokey pokey or the limbo, with a pop hits playing in the background? Were you ruling the track or flailing like a startled Steve Urkel? Either is fine. So much fun! In Santa Cruz’s Midtown, there’s a neighborhood known as Seabright. On Seabright Avenue, there remains an old school roller rink, the Santa Cruz Roller Palladium, which has been around for over sixty years.
Roller skating has been found to be a great cardiovascular work out that builds core strength and promotes balance. But really, isn’t it really all about the hilarious wipeouts and licorice filled snack breaks that make the roller rink experience special? This is another great, out of the box date idea that will bring out the inner kid in both you and your partner. Imagine the grin on your loved one’s face as you lace up and bragging about how you are going to lap them, only to fall on your butt half way through the first lap. Just remember to take it easy, we’re not kids anymore you know.