Thursday, November 20, 2008

Santa Cruz Delights

Santa Cruzans might wince when I say this, but Santa Cruz is little like a mini-Berkeley. It is full of a variety of places to find good eats, from cafes and restaurants to farmer’s markets and health food stores. Stores selling green products abound, as do all manner of biking, hiking and surfing possibilities. Even though the water is cool in this part of California, surfing is huge here, so on any given day you will see all sorts of people mostly in wet suits (some hale and hardy die-hards still “trunk-it” sans wetsuits…brrr) trying to catch the perfect wave. The beaches – all public access – are huge and beautiful. Dolphin sightings are fairly common so keep your eyes peeled if you are walking along the beach. If you felt so inclined you could walk almost thirty miles on the sand beaches from Capitola to Monterey. But be cautioned – there can be bad fog along the coast especially in the summer months…

While touring the Pacific Avenue part of Santa Cruz, I came upon a flyer in the Eco Goods store advertising an upcoming lecture about “Wifi-Stress”. My friend asked me, “What do you think this means?” I said, “That’s what I have – wifi stress - because I can’t find any darn wifi in California!” However the lack of abundant wifi was not the subject of the lecture, but rather about the potential hazards of electromagnetic fields (EMF) from cell phones and wifi. We proceeded to have a serious conversation about the other form of wifi stress that has to do with our insta-society and kids being glued to their cell phones constantly texting and yacking… making us wonder what the combination of the EMFs and the addiction to technology would bring us in the coming years.

And speaking of my kind of “wifi Stress”, I found relief at Verve, 816 41st Ave., Santa Cruz; 831-475-7776, a sweet coffee and tea café with good! wifi available when you purchase one of their delicious drinks or treats.

The weather was glorious while I was in Santa Cruz, although I was told not entirely normal for this time of year when they should be having more rain. I did not complain. While there are all sorts of great places to frequent in the area, I have listed below some of the places I discovered. Enjoy them if and when you find yourself in the Santa Cruz area.

River Café and Cheese Shop, 415 River Street, Santa Cruz; 831-420-1280. As the name implies, this is a café serving light meals for breakfast, lunch and snacks, as well as selling local delicacies – cheeses, canned local organic pears, apricots and other fruits, fresh breads, local olive oil and more tucked into a tiny space with a larger outdoor dining terrace. If you are a frequent River Café eater, you can purchase their $1,000 CSA-like share for the year so you can have a virtual prepaid charge account while supporting this local endeavor committed to organic, fresh foods.

Chocolate, 1522 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz; 831-427-9900;; Open 11am-11pm. A full scale chocolaterie with all manner of chocolate drinks and eats plus delicious, organic, local soups, salads, sandwiches and traditional Mole dishes. Lovely outdoor dining as well as indoor seating.

La Vie, 429 Front Street, Santa Cruz; 831-429-6746;; Open seven days a week. La Vie offers Raw Foods (dairy & gluten-free too), vegan, vegetarian and sustainable seafood as take out and a restaurant.

New Leaf Community Markets are large, full-service natural foods stores that carry a wonderful variety of local products with five stores in the Santa Cruz area –

Way of Life, 1220 A 41st, Ave., Begonia Shopping Plaza, Santa Cruz; 831-464-4113;; Good selection of vitamins, supplements, herbs and homeopathics, as well as gift items, located in the same mini-mall as one of the New Leaf Markets.

Farmer’s Markets -
Think Local First -

You can probably picture the myriad of yoga centers around Santa Cruz, and you would be correct. One such place is the Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine and Chi Center, East Cliff Shopping Center, 21511 East Cliff Drive, Suite B, Santa Cruz; 831-465-9088; The Center offers classes throughout the day of yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi and meditation, as well as a full Integrative Medicine Clinic. I took a delightful yoga class here one morning with Kristin Lansdale as my teacher. She specializes in Yin Yoga, as well as a gentle, restorative yoga, which left me feeling deeply content.

Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz; 831-423-0900;; Open 9am-10pm, Fridays and Saturdays until 11pm. A large independent bookstore selling new and used books. Santa Cruz: A Guide for Runners, Joggers and Serious Walkers, Journeyworks Publishing is just one of the thousands of good finds available at the store.

Eco Goods, 1130 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz; 831-429-5758;
Purveyor of organic cotton and hemp clothing, bedding, and other eco-products. Look for the notepads and ornaments made out of elephant “poo”.

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