Find out what readers voted as the best among community life.
- Seabright Beach is a gorgeous half-mile stretch of pristine sand nestled between the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
- The beach and surrounding area were once known as “Castle Beach”—in honor of a now-demolished landmark, the Castle. James Pilkington built the Castle, a popular bathhouse, around the turn of the 20th century.
- Before you spend your day in the warm California sun, make sure to stop by the Museum of Natural History, located on Pilkington Street, just a block from the Seabright Beach entrance. You’ll find over 16,000 items including minerals, gems, and artifacts from native groups like the Ohlone Indians.
- Seabright Beach is the perfect spot to watch fireworks on the Fourth of July. It is also an amazing vantage point for the weekly Wednesday night sailboat races, which take place beginning with the start of daylight saving time.
- At low tide, walk through the sandstone arch and cave leading to the mouth of the San Lorenzo River and the Boardwalk. HUGH MCCORMICK
BEST FARMERS MARKET
APTOS FARMERS MARKET AT CABRILLO COLLEGE
- Way back in 1976, a tiny but tight group of farmers came together to sell their produce to the local community. Their grassroots effort gave birth to the Aptos Farmers Market—one of the grandest farmers markets in the county.
- Each week, the Aptos Farmers Market at Cabrillo College boasts over 90 vendors offering everything from meats, cheeses, honey, plants, flowers, to artisanal breads and baked goods.
- The Aptos Farmers Market is held at Cabrillo College each Saturday morning from 8am to noon year-round, rain or shine. Make sure to arrive early for the best selection. Vendors close and pack up shop at noon.
- Farmers markets like Aptos’ are recognized as essential food outlets during the Covid-19 pandemic. Visitors are encouraged to do their shopping and go, without congregating too much. Handwashing and hand sanitizer stations are carefully placed throughout the marketplace.
- Coastal Living Magazine named it one of the “Central Coast’s Best Farmers Markets.” HUGH MCCORMICK
BEST LOCAL HERO
BONNY DOON NEIGHBORHOOD BRIGADE
- The CZU Lightning Complex fire was sparked on Aug. 16, 2020, when more than 12,000 dry lightning strikes hit Northern and Central California.
- Despite warnings and evacuation orders from law enforcement and fire officials a group of Bonny Doon locals—volunteer firefighters—refused to back down and fought valiantly to save their (and their neighbors’) homes.
- With the state’s firefighting resources stretched dangerously thin, 50 or so Bonny Doon residents basically created their own tiny fire department.
- With their own bulldozers, water tanks and chainsaws, the Bonny Doon Neighborhood Brigade used local knowledge to save dozens of homes, earning the respect of Cal Fire crews.
- Borrowing a friend’s ancient fire truck, Bonny Doon residents Mark Kuchler and Glenn Hanson were able to save over 10 homes themselves—filling up the hose and dousing flames throughout the area. Most of the homes they saved lacked fire insurance. HUGH MCCORMICK
East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz
RUNNERS-UP Seacliff State Beach, Capitola Beach
West Cliff Drive
RUNNERS-UP Wilder Ranch, East Cliff Drive
400 Beach St., Santa Cruz
RUNNERS-UP Carousel, Log Ride
RUNNERS-UP Unleashed, Aisha Storm Brown
168 Frederick St., Santa Cruz
RUNNERS-UP Aptos Polo Grounds, Chanticleer
Aptos Farmers Market at Cabrillo College
6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 728-5060
RUNNERS-UP Downtown, Live Oak
Local Athlete (non-Derby)
RUNNERS-UP Nat Young, Rohanna Shultz
Bonny Doon Neighborhood Brigades
RUNNERS-UP Our Firefighters, Carina Reid
RUNNERS-UP Westside, Pleasure Point
210 High St., Santa Cruz
RUNNERS-UP Second Harvest, Jacob’s Heart
Place of Worship
Twin Lakes Church
2701 Cabrillo College Drive, Aptos, 465-3300, tlc.org
RUNNERS-UP Temple Beth El, Holy Cross Catholic Church
Place to Walk/Jog/Hike
West Cliff Drive
RUNNERS-UP Nisene Marks, Henry Cowell Redwoods
Land of Medicine Buddha Retreat Center
5800 Prescott Road, Soquel, 462-8383, landofmedicinebuddha.org
RUNNERS-UP 1440 Multiversity, Mount Madonna Institute
Chaminade Resort & Spa
1 Chaminade Ln., Santa Cruz, 475-5600, chaminade.com