Local guides call upon their passions for both history and culinary scenes to share their wisdom during their afternoon walking tours. The Santa Cruz food tour eschews the more touristy spots along the boardwalk and wharf, and Capitola food tours traverse the hilly seaside village, stopping at eateries such as Quail and Thistle Tea Room and Paradise Beach Grille along the way. Between tastings, the guides impart anecdotes about each neighborhood’s rich cultural history, thereby allowing groups time to digest meals and fold carry-out restaurant menus into sun-shielding parasols. Additionally, they happily arrange tours that accommodate vegetarian diets.
The accommodating staff at Bike Dojo, a cycling gym founded by Rob Mylls, keeps the community active with two-wheeled activities ranging from indoor spin classes and kid-based ride programs. Schwinn indoor recreational bikes perch inside the studio space, beckoning exercisers of all levels to pedal their way through energetic classes that boost cardiovascular health and finally put Tour de France commemorative bike shorts to use. Bike Dojo memberships grants full access to the facility and every new member joining Bike Dojo contributes to a child in the community through Dojo's program, Project B.I.K.E., which donates a bike to a child for every new membership.
Since 2004, Super Jet Limo's smartly dressed chauffeurs have transported clients in a fleet of stylish town cars. They drive travelers to and from San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport, and Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. In addition, they facilitate sightseeing tours and provide transportation for special events, such as proms and weddings. In the case of the latter, they'll even outfit limos with customized Just Married signs.
From the shore, Seal Rock—with its rounded crags and compact shape—looks like an oversize filet mignon floating on the Pacific Ocean. Upon closer examination, one can see its silhouette shifting as hundreds of sea lions atop the rock bob their heads or dive into the water. In addition to hosting this majestic hoard, the rock makes for a popular stop for Segway Santa Cruz tours, which peer at it from shore on their way to other sights. Aboard eco-friendly two-wheelers, guides lead groups along Westcliff Drive en route to an array of seaside attractions, including Santa Cruz Lighthouse and Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, as well as Santa Cruz Wharf's boardwalk, restaurants, and shops. The tours are even open to guests with no experience driving a segway, as guides prep each person on the machine's workings before taking off on sightseeing around the town.
Departing from Venture Quest's dock on the Santa Cruz Wharf, boaters explore the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary from a new, watery perspective while encountering marine flora and fauna. Even without prior experience, kayaking duos can easily navigate the two-person ($50) or a pair of single ($30 each) open-topped boats. A quick ocean-top jaunt to the lush kelp forest near Lighthouse Point may reveal views of harbor seals and frolicking sea otters dancing the cancan in their natural habitat. Sea lions are also known to lounge on nearby Seal Rock, batting their big brown eyes at the occasional passing dolphin or whale.
In 1975, Ken Burnap established Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard with one goal in mind: to produce one of the best pinot noirs in California. Four years later he hired his protégé, Jeff Emery, who now runs the vineyard and ensures that it continues to produce award-winning pinots along with complex cabernet sauvignons petite sirahs. The staff makes the rounds of seven vineyards, where it cultivates traditional Californian grapes as well as varieties that originated in Spain and Portugal for its Quinta Cruz label.
Aspiring sommeliers boost grape-based know-how during events at Vino Tabi that empower students to design palate-pleasing blends of multiple vintages. Instructors begin class by doling out tastings of classical bordeaux blends, pontificating on balance, flavor signatures, and correct pronunciation of the word “tannin." Next, fusions are broken down into individual elements, with samples of five traditional varietals, including cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot, and malbec. Finally, apprentices take charge, using newly acquired knowledge to pour a personalized concoction heavy on desirable characteristics such as hints of berry, oak aromas, and the power to turn dogs invisible. Hands carry home bottles of the one-of-a-kind blend that have the sides festooned with a personally designed label for future display.