Happy Memories of Santa Cruz
Watching the morning fog burn off for a fantastic summer day. The aroma of the eucalyptus trees, and the restful solitude in the redwood groves at Big Basin Park. Early morning surfing at Pleasure Point, and late-night campfire beach parties in Davenport. Driving aimlessly through the Santa Cruz mountains and finding breathtaking views.
Soquel Winery is located high in the hills above Santa Cruz near the end of a scenic winding road. Their fabulous selections include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel. It is well worth the drive.
If you are used to visiting Napa wineries, change your expectations immediately. Things are different in Santa Cruz. When we first got there we were the only visitors in the tasting room and were far outnumbered by winery employees coming and going. They had a winery to run, for goodness sakes - couldn't be bothered with tasters! Maybe if they ignored us we would go away. But we didn't. Eventually, the owner himself came out to pour the wine.
However, we did not get his undivided attention. In between pouring the wines for us, he went to the small kitchen to attend to winery running duties. When he was in the tasting room, he was obsessed with flies. He would start to pour a wine, then immediately would stop, pick up a fly swatter he left near the counter and go smack at something on the wall. I was assigned to door duty - I had to make sure the door wasn't left open for those pesky flies. My husband was assigned to fly-swatting duty. I swear to God we didn't see a single fly.
If you don't mind doing a little work while you're sipping your wine, Soquel Winery is the place for you. Honestly, it's worth it! Tastings are generous, the wines are excellent, and the owner is truly amusing!
Moss Landing Fishing Village
About halfway on hwy 1 to Monterrey is Moss Landing, a generally better place to buy fresh fish. I have a VT page devoted to this town that's well worth reading for more information. Moss Landing is about 20 minutes south from Santa Cruz at the center of the Monterey Bay. A good strategy is to stop there on the way south, or on the way back to hwy 101 if driving toward LA. It's pretty easy to spot from a distance because there's an old diesel electric power plant there too, but don't let that detract from the great seafood available at the place. Check out the link below for specific details.
The Best Local Pizza - Slice or Whole Pie
Local pizza place that does a great service by offering pizza by the slice. Whether it's the sausage, pesto or the vegetarian delight, Pizza My Heart serves pizza with fresh ingredients to the masses. I love the basic cheese pizza - great sauce, crust is thin or thick you choose.
Could be the best in the area
Santa Cruz is a town with many good restaurants. Aquarius is newer, and may be the best. First, the food is top quality and creative. This is a big step up from the several seafood restaurants located nearby on the wharf. Here you won't find the typical meat/fish, veggie and potato sides. The menu here is fresh and inspiring, with thoughtful items well presented.
Aquarius may have the best view in Santa Cruz too. Located on a corner that directly overlooks the ocean, wharf and beach on two sides, every table has a view. The interior is contemporary and tastefully decorated.
From 3 - 6 pm they have happy hour, with drink and appetizers at reduced rates. Considering the fantastic view from the bar, there is no better place to have a drink at sunset.