.Best of Santa Cruz County 2019: Health & Recreation


Best Acupuncture Clinic

Five Branches University

  1. Five Branches University gets its name from the five branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which seeks to maintain and restore an individual’s harmony with nature: acupuncture, herbology, Tui Na massage, energetics, and Chinese dietary medicine. Five Branches University best of santa cruz
  2. Many of Five Branches’ practitioners were educated and trained in China at prestigious TCM colleges and hospitals.
  3. Recognized as one of the nation’s top TCM schools, Five Branches University provides high levels of professional education and health care in Traditional Chinese Medicine and integrative medicine at their two locations, one in Santa Cruz and one in San Jose.
  4. They have study-abroad programs for students wishing to travel to Asia and learn about TCM from the source. Programs include earning a PhD at the Five Branches sister schools in Hangzhou, Tianjin and Shenyang, China.
  5. They offer a variety of specialty educational programs, including nationally accredited Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine programs.


Best Cannabis Dispensary


  1. Santa Cruz’s first state-legal dispensary, and the first to get eight of 20 state licenses issued by the Bureau of Cannabis Control. Also the largest dispensary in Santa Cruz. KindPeoples best of santa cruz cannabis
  2. First dispensary to offer a legal and stylish delivery system (via Volkswagen van!) in an effort to increase cannabis access to those with disabilities and transportation issues.
  3. KindPeoples is currently relocating their retail license from DuBois Street to Ocean Street, citing the desire for a more community-centered location closer to downtown Santa Cruz.
  4. Their locations now include express checkout self-service kiosks to expedite and simplify the check out process.
  5. Home to the biggest genetics department in the Monterey Bay, the collective also boasts one of the largest and most diverse seed stocks in California.


Best Dentist

Alana Thompson, DDS

  1. Originally from New England, Dr. Thompson came to UC San Francisco for dental school and never left the Bay Area. best santa cruz dentist
  2. Dr. Thompson says that since there are many people who don’t get the dental health care they need, she makes a point to donate a portion of her time and skills. Last year, her son and hygienist travelled to Baja to provide care at orphanages.
  3. She took up outrigger paddling about five years ago. It’s her favorite way to exercise and enjoy the ocean, and she loves working in sync with a small crew to gain speed and explore the coast and the wildlife.
  4. Dr. Thompson’s practice, Seabright Dental Studio, recently added a laser that allows them to provide many dental procedures without getting numb (no needles), and without the sound and feel of the dental drill.
  5. She and her family are big fans of Dr. Who and music—and she sometimes hums or sings in the office.


Best Gym

Toadal Fitness

  1. Opened its doors in March 1996 in Downtown Santa Cruz, and has since expanded across the county to the Westside, Aptos, Live Oak, and Scotts Valley. best of santa cruz gym
  2. Originally named Frog Fitness, the husband-and-wife owners had to change the original name after receiving legal threats from Frog Athletics Club in San Diego.
  3. The name was chosen mostly because the owners are French (the English used to poke at the French by calling them “frogs” during World War II), and because “Frog” and “Fitness” sounded good together.
  4. Prides itself on being a friendly, comfortable and completely normal place to work out for people from all walks of life. Their motto is: a little bit of exercise (not too much) goes a long way.
  5. Toadal Fitness offers a number of classes throughout the week, from group cycling to precision cross training, body sculpt, power core, and many more.  


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Craig Sakimoto

317 Potrero St. Suite C, Santa Cruz,
425-9500, santacruzcore.com

RUNNERS-UP Adrianna Gonzalez, Maureen Rozenn


Acupuncture Clinic

Five Branches University

200 7th Ave., Santa Cruz, 476-9424, fivebranches.edu

RUNNER-UP Flux Acupuncture Lounge


Bike Shop

Bicycle Trip  

1001 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 427-2580, bicycletrip.com

RUNNERS-UP Family Cycling Center, Spokesman


Cannabis Dispensary


140 Dubois St. Ste. C, Santa Cruz, 824-6200;
3600 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 471-8562, kindpeoples.org

RUNNERS-UP Treehouse, Santa Cruz Naturals


Cannabis Edibles


140 Dubois St. Ste. C, Santa Cruz;
3600 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 471-8562, kindpeoples.org

RUNNERS-UP Treehouse, Santa Cruz Naturals



Dr. Rhodes Walton  

317 Potrero St. Suite C, Santa Cruz, 425-9500, santacruzcore.com

RUNNERS-UP Dr. Masi Bayless, Dr. Duncan McCollum


Crossfit Studio

Seabright Crossfit

1619 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, 566-4263, seabrightcrossfit.com

RUNNERS-UP Crossfit Santa Cruz, Crossfit West



Alana Thompson, DDS

1016 Soquel Ave. #2, Santa Cruz, 431-6477, seabrightdental.com

RUNNERS-UP Kevin Ippisch, DDS; Roopa Pai, DDS


Doctor (MD)

Rachel Abrams, MD

740 Front St., Santa Cruz, 465-9088, santacruzintegrativemedicine.com

RUNNERS-UP Karen Harrington, MD; Steven Leib, MD


Doctor (ND)

Juli Mazi, ND

2840 Park Ave. Ste. A, Soquel, 515-8699, thrivenatmed.com/naturopathic-doctorjulimazi

RUNNERS-UP Tonya Fleck, ND; Aimée Gould Shunney, ND



Hazel Chadwick @ The Nook

1543 Pacific Ave. #215, Santa Cruz, 295-6233, thenook.us

RUNNERS-UP Sue Bell @ Simply Skin Esthetics, Veronica Franco @ La Raux


Golf Course


401 Upper Park Rd., Santa Cruz, 423-7214, delaveagagolf.com

RUNNERS-UP Pasatiempo, Seascape



Toadal Fitness

113 Lincoln St., Santa Cruz, 423-3764;
1200 17th Ave. #108, Santa Cruz, 464-3764;
6200 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 475-5979;
2929 Mission St. Extension, Santa Cruz, 466-3764;
269 Mount Hermon Rd., Scotts Valley, 430-9200, toadalfitness.com

RUNNERS-UP In-Shape, Santa Cruz Core


Martial Arts

Sanford’s Martial Arts

4626 Soquel Drive, Soquel, 475-9676, sanfordskarate.com

RUNNERS-UP Billy Bad Ass Cardio Kickboxing, Kaijin Mixed Martial Arts


Massage Therapist

Cala Remick  

317 Potrero St. Suite C, Santa Cruz, 425-9500, santacruzcore.com

RUNNERS-UP Jenny Call, Gemma Depolo



Jaimi Jansen @ Santa Cruz CORE Fitness

317 Potrero St. Suite C, Santa Cruz, 425-9500, santacruzcore.com

RUNNERS-UP Jocelyn Dubin @ Nourish, The Healthy Way



Mark Joiner

1773 Dominican Way, Santa Cruz, 475-5500, joinerortho.com

RUNNERS-UP John A. Hedrick, North Coast Orthodontics


Outdoor Store

Outdoor World

1440 41st Ave., Capitola, 479-1501;
136 River St., Santa Cruz, 423-9555, theoutdoorworld.com

RUNNERS-UP Down Works, Patagonia


Personal Trainer

Carina Reid

ca*****@ym***.com, fuelphitness.com

RUNNERS-UP Beau Jansen @ Santa Cruz CORE Fitness, Jason Lenington @ Toadal Fitness



Staff of Life

1266 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-8632, staffoflifemarket.com

RUNNERS-UP Max Muscle Nutrition, New Leaf Community Markets



Agile Monkey Pilates Studio

121 Walnut Ave, Santa Cruz, 458-4125, agilemonkey.net

RUNNERS-UP Hot Yoga Aptos, Pleasure Point Pilates


Running Store

Fleet Feet

7960 Soquel Drive Suite I, Aptos, 662-0886, fleetfeetaptos.com

RUNNER-UP Santa Cruz Running Company  


Sailing Charter


790 Mariner Park Way, Dock FF, Santa Cruz, 423-1213, chardonnay.com

RUNNERS-UP O’Neill Yacht Charters, Lighthall Yacht Charters


Skate Park

Derby Skate Park

508 Woodland Way, Santa Cruz

RUNNERS-UP Mike Fox, Skypark


Skate Shop

Bill’s Wheels

1240 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 469-0904, billswheels.com

RUNNERS-UP Boardroom, Skateworks



Helm of Sun Valley

1408 41st Ave., Santa Cruz, 462-6800, helmofsunvalley.com

RUNNER-UP Play It Again Sports


Spa (pampering)

Well Within Spa

417 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 458-9355, wellwithinspa.com

RUNNERS-UP Caress Day Spa, Chaminade Resort & Spa


Spa (soaking)

Well Within Spa

417 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 458-9355, wellwithinspa.com

RUNNERS-UP Tea House Spa, Sage Float Spa


Sporting Goods

Play It Again Sports

4770 Soquel Drive, Soquel, 475-1988, playitagainsports-soquel.com

RUNNERS-UP O’Neill, Outdoor World


Stand-up Paddleboard

SUP Shack

2214 E. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 464-7467, supshacksantacruz.com

RUNNERS-UP Capitola Surf & Paddle, Covewater


Surf School

Club Ed

2350 Paul Minnie Ave., Santa Cruz, 464-0177, club-ed.com

Richard Schmidt

849 Almar Ave., Box 192, Santa Cruz, 423-0928, richardschmidt.com

RUNNERS-UP Capitola Surf & Paddle, Surf School Santa Cruz


Surf Shop


110 Cooper St. #100D, Santa Cruz, 469-4377;
400 Beach St., Santa Cruz, 459-9230;
1115 41st Ave., Capitola, 475-4151, oneill.com

RUNNERS-UP Freeline, Pacific Wave


Surf Spot

Pleasure Point

RUNNERS-UP Cowell’s, Steamer Lane


Swim School

Adventure Sports

303 Potrero St. #15, Santa Cruz, 458-3648, asudoit.com

RUNNERS-UP Jim Booth, Simpkins Family Swim Center  



Emmanuel Denike

RUNNERS-UP Lucie Hemmen, Nina Kelly


Yoga Instructor

Hannah Muse


RUNNERS-UP Laurie Broderick-Burr, Nicole Duke


Yoga Studio

Hot Yoga Aptos

7960 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 661-5030, hotyogaptos.com

RUNNERS-UP Breath & Oneness, Luma Yoga





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