The beach in Santa Cruz always holds special appeal in summer, but that’s not the only reason to head over the hills or cruise Highway 1 into town. Here are some great reasons to visit this summer.
Featured Photo: Courtesy of Dream Inn
Freaks and political geeks: “Freak Power,” the newest exhibition at Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, features the art of “gonzo journalist” Hunter S. Thompson’s political movement. It’s on view through Sept. 25 from 12 to 6pm Thursday to Sunday. General admission is $10; free for ages under 5.
Classic cars in Capitola: Watch a parade of classic cars parade from Santa Cruz Boardwalk to Capitola starting at 8:30am June 11, part of the Capitola Rod and Custom Classic Car Show. Then ogle them up close through 5pm and again 8:30am to 5pm June 12 at Esplanade Park in Capitola Village, which will be closed to other vehicles (see link for parking options.) Music, raffles and demonstrations will also enliven the show. Admission is free.
Ales on rails: On June 19, Dads can raise a glass on Railroad’s Father’s Day Brew Train with live music, tastings by Humble Sea Brewing, gold panning and optional barbecue lunch. Train departs Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk at 11am for Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, departing at 3pm for the return to Santa Cruz; it’s $62 for adults, $33 children. Father’s Day forest rides on the narrow-gauge steam train also available in Felton; $45 adults, $30 ages 2 to 12.
Woodies and goodies: A record number of the classic surf cars known as woodies are expected for the 26th annual Woodies on the Wharf on Santa Cruz Wharf, June 24-25. They’re officially on view from 10am to 3:30pm, but some will start arriving as early as 6am. True fans can view the woodies again at 8:30am June 26 while they cruise along West Cliff Drive to the Santa Cruz harbor for a farewell coffee gathering. Free.
The Bard and beyond: The outdoor repertory season of Santa Cruz Shakespeare features Twelfth Night and The Tempest, plus the world premiere of Kathryn Chetkovich’s The Formula, inspired by A Midsummer’s Night Dream, July 10 to Aug. 28 at Audrey Stanley Grove. Pre-show picnic offerings available from food trucks and Grill at DeLaveaga Golf Course. Tickets: $58-$70, seniors $55-$67, students and ages 6 to 18 $22; parking $5.
The sounds of now: The 60th anniversary of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, July 24 to August 7 at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, boasts several world premieres, including the live orchestral premiere of Jake Heggie’s “Intonations: Songs from the Violins of Hope” on August 7. Many events are free; other concerts are $30-$75.
Grab the ring: Head to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk early on July 25, i.e. National Carousel Day, for the chance to be one of the first 100 riders on its 1911 Looff Carousel. They’ll receive a souvenir brass ring. $6 per carousel ride, open 11am to 9pm.
Forging ahead: The fifth annual Hammer-In at Roaring Camp Railroads August 19 to 21 in Felton showcases the craft of the California Blacksmith Association through demonstrations. Additional family activities include gold-panning, kids’ crafts, live music and train rides. Free admission; rides $40-$42 adults, $25-$28 ages 2 to 12.
A drink to art: Over 100 local artists show their works, paired with live entertainment and craft beer and wine tastings, at the Scotts Valley Art Wine & Beer Festival August 20-21. On August 20, the Cops ‘n Rodders car show opens the festivities at Skypark at 9:15am, with events til 6pm; on August 21 the festival runs 10am to 5pm, with Dog Day contests 11am to 3:30pm.