Santa Cruz Holiday Destinations
By Kathy Chin Leong


Want to stay close to town this holiday? Here is your pre-season planner for the beach town of Santa Cruz. Be sure to make reservations ahead of time and be sure to enjoy our crisp California weather.

December is great in Santa Cruz. Sunshine and waves set the proverbial California surfin’ scene, but it’s brisk this time of year as well. Layer on your winter jacket and come for the day visiting Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz’s downtown filled with eateries and shops and bookstores. Marini’s Candies (1308 Pacific Ave.) will play host to Santa during the month of December. Find out ahead of time which hours he will be there. 1308 Pacific Ave.; 831/429-8433.

Can’t get enough of the man in red? On December 3 at 10 a.m., the Santa Cruz Holiday Parade officially kicks off the season on Pacific Avenue with bands, floats, antique cars, and Santa with his entourage of holiday followers.

That same day, December 3, attend the Jingle Shells Art & Book Festival. This is an ocean-inspired holiday festival–– Santa Cruz style! Meet local artists, enjoy presentations by naturalists and book signings by local authors, live music, refreshments, and children's activities. Join us at 5:30 as we light up the world’s largest whale skeleton to celebrate the holiday season! Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Santa Cruz. Start and end times : 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Phone (831) 459.3800

Train buffs can go to Roaring Camp Railroad in nearby Felton and get on board an authentic steam train, $18 for adults and $12 for kids 3-12, free for little ones under 3. Call 831/335-4484.

And there’s plenty more up Santa’s sleeve in this little town. On December 3-4, 9-11, and 16-18, Pioneer Santa boards the Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train which meets at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk at 6 p.m. for a fun-filled night of riding through the lighted streets of town. The train, festooned with lights and holiday garlands, is the ideal place for enjoying a carol or two and sipping hot chocolate and apple cider with friends and family. Tickets cost $15 per person. Call 1/888-25-EVENTS.

Santa Cruz will also be offering Snow Night , snowplay for kids 12 and under on Dec. 8 from 5 to 8 p.m. on the corner of Pacific Avenue and Cooper Street. The cost is free, but visitors are asked to donate a can of food.

On Sat. December 17, experience Holiday Time at the Ranch as folks did in California, Victorian & early 20th century times. This free event features crafts, games, treats at Wilder Ranch State Park, the site of a former dairy ranch. Festivities begin at 11 a.m. and close at 3 p.m. Phone (831) 426.0505.

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NOTEWORTHY WEBSITES:

* www.santacruz.winecountry.com  – for more calendar information on events.
* www.roaringcamp.com  – details on Roaring Camp Railroad excursions.
* www.mariniscandies.com  – lots of chewy info on this famous candy store.
* www.parks.ca.gov  – more info on Wilder Ranch State Park.

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