Living in Santa Cruz County, most of us see the ocean daily. Whether it be through the windows of our vehicles, on a bike ride, or during a family beach day…but have you ever wondered what it would be like to see our beautiful coastline from above?
Specialized Helicopters, located at the Watsonville Airport offers daily helicopter tours of the Monterey Bay. This staff of highly trained and experienced pilots will take you up above your home town and give you not only an awesome tour, but a few local history lessons that you might not have known. Being able to see Santa Cruz County from above will give you a brand new perspective of the beauty the each and every one of us calls home.
Specialized Helicopters offers 5 main tours within the Monterey Bay. The first is a 10 Minute ride they have titled “Sky High”. This is the perfect ride for those of you who are wanting to quickly cross “Fly in a helicopter” off of your bucket list, or if you are wanting to bring a couple young kids along that have never been in a helicopter before. Starting at $33 a person, “Sky High” takes you from Watsonville, out over the ocean, and back. Next on the list is my personal favorite, the “Santa Cruz” tour. This flight takes you from Watsonville, out to the coastline and all the way down to the Santa Cruz lighthouse and back.It is a 20 minute ride that anyone can enjoy. The perfect length to give you a nice helicopter fix and short enough to do on your lunch break if you time it right. Oh and don’t forget to bring a camera! Shots from up above are spectacular, and you are going to have to prove to all of your friends and family that you went.
Specialized Helicopters also offers longer tours out to Carmel and Big Sur, as well as a “Wine Tasting Adventure” tour that takes you out into the Salinas mountains. For more information on the tours and services they offer, including aviation training and maintenance, check out their website: http://www.specializedheli.com
Specialized Helicopters is located at:
150 Aviation Way
Watsonville CA 95076
It’s Saturday morning, you slept in a couple hours, it’s about 10am and you are ready to get out of the house to enjoy that nice Santa Cruz weekend fresh air. You are thinking of an ideal place to go that can has a mix of fresh food, friends/community, being outside, and music. You, my friend, are wanting to go to the Aptos Farmer’s Market.
Every Saturday from 8am-12pm, rain or shine, farmers, vendors, musicians and community members head over to the main parking lots at Cabrillo College for a great morning of fresh food, conversations, laughs, and entertainment. The farmers market is always full of color. The array of fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, and meats make for great local shopping. Many of the vendors are certified Organic and offer a wide variety of in-season fruits and veggies.
If you are a parent don’t let that stop you from enjoying the market festivities. Feel free to bring them! Kids can enjoy the variety of free produce samples to munch on, live music to keep them entertained, extra kid friendly instruments for them to join in, and sometimes there are street performers such as the Great Morgani or a friendly clown making balloon animals. There is always something to smile about at the Aptos Farmers market for both adults and kids!
The Aptos Farmers Market is the perfect way to kick off your weekend.
See you on Saturday!
A full list of participating Farmers and vendors can be found here: http://www.montereybayfarmers.org/aptos_vendors.html
Do you ever need a quick trip out of Santa Cruz County either to get away away from tourists or just to simply get a different view. If you are wanting to switch it up a bit and travel North instead of South Pigeon Point Lighthouse is a great destination point. Located about 30 miles North of Santa Cruz, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is an iconic landmark that was built in 1871 and stands at an amazing 115ft tall. The lighthouse is still an active U.S. Coast Guard aid to navigation using a 24 inch Aero Beacon.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse is a well known destination for many visiting the California Coast and a popular spot for professional photographers. If you decide to spend part of your day traveling to this lighthouse be sure to come equipped with a camera or at the very least a phone that has photo capability. You will definitely want to come home with a few photos to show off to your family and friends or maybe just to post on your Facebook or Instagram.
Don’t forget to pack some warm clothes, even on a sunny day Pigeon Point can get quite windy. While out there keep an eye out for marine mammals, such as seals and whales while visiting Pigeon Point, they can be seen regularly from shore as they pass by beyond the surf.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse is open publicly for day use 8am-Sunset. Guided half-hour history walks of the lighthouse grounds are available 10:00a.m. – 4:00p.m. Fridays through Mondays, except on rainy days. Next time you are looking to get out of Santa Cruz, grab the family and head up North a bit. The drive is full of amazing scenic coastal views and there are several beach spots to stop at along the way if you are wanting to take a nice walk on the beach.]]>
In the Santa Cruz mountains where the sun beams on big trees and mushrooms grow is a state park I would like to introduce as my favorite state park in California! Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park has been my getaway where I allow nature to fill me up and teach me a lesson or two, usually through bird watching.
The Redwood Grove is not just a pleasant loop walk amongst ancient redwoods, it could also be a magnificent classroom. At the beginning of the loop, pick up a pamphlet which will walk you through every major sight and give you the scientific or historical significance of what you are looking at. Key locations are marked numerically and you read each number off on the pamphlet when you reach that marker, for example you will learn about the big bulges on the sides of redwoods called “Burrs” and why redwoods like to grow in circles amongst each other.The trail along the San Lorenzo river which parallels the Roaring Camp Railroad steam train route, takes you down the hill along the river where there are various small beaches where you could get your feet wet. I watched acorn woodpeckers fly back and fourth across the river and spotted a belted kingfisher hunting for its next meal of small fish. I did photograph a yellow-jacket nest on the underside of a fallen redwood, however they were busy with their daily work and definitely not interested in me.
The wildlife I have spotted there include a young bobcat, deer, crawdads in the river and a red fox on the redwood loop trail. On my evening visits, I hear the hoot of small owls calling back and fourth coming from holes high above the trail. A family of wild turkey is usually seen in the mornings working the redwood grove floors. During the summer there are California quail chicks which are easy to spot because quail during this season gather and feed together in groups referred to as “coveys.” Its hard to get a glimpse of the chicks sometimes because they are great flyers and will disperse before adults do. My favorite redwood forest bird is the Pacific Wren, it is a small brown bird the size of a mouse which is seldom seen even by experienced birders. Its bird song is high pitched and patterned in a way that lights up a whole mountain side. For easier spotting remember this little bird will usually be on the forest floor.
Aromatic California Bay trees line the trails with their sweet scent emanating from their leaves. Some trails are horse friendly so be ready to see horses of all shapes and sizes and their friendly riders, passing you up on your visit. The nature center has a stuffed coyote, fox, garter snake and enough information on the walls to keep you busy for the afternoon. On display outside is a slab of an ancient redwood tree over 2,000 years old, with notes describing its historical existence. I learned about the Zayante Indians that originally inhabited the Santa Cruz mountains and was astonished by their natural local resources such as the river which rises in the winter and of course, plentiful hunting grounds.
Remember this state park is only 6 miles away from downtown Santa Cruz! The river that flows through the middle of it, is the same river (San Lorenzo) that empties out next to the Boardwalk! This state park is as Santa Cruz as it gets! Lets go to the Redwoods!]]>
Santa Cruz locals will love the Monterey Bay Aquarium because it is an excellent introduction to our local Santa Cruz sea life!
Nature enthusiasts and Santa Cruz local’s, Melissa and David Cruz went down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and we are excited about sharing our experience.
While gazing through the circular aquarium window, a sea turtle swam up and surprised us! The crowd around us had a good laugh as we yelped with a happy startle. To keep from being surprised from the sea turtles in the aquarium on your visit, keep an eye out for bubbles!
Our favorite part of the Aquarium was getting to interact with the live ocean life on display in water tanks. Creatures such as red sea cucumbers, green crabs, yellow, purple and blue star fish gave visitors plenty to play with. The guides allow you to touch and get up close and personal with sea creatures usually only seen in ocean movies. Neatest of all was the variety of exotic sea horses. Look for the dragon sea horses, their majestic long bodies gently swim by, as a flying dragon would float through the clouds.
The jelly fish will also not let you down, the most memorable where the glow in the dark ones that blink up and flash like slot machine L.E.D.s. Also, don’t forget to spend some time in the art exhibit display. Ocean wildlife was created completely from recycled sea trash for an excellent presentation. It is a juxtaposition to have beautiful sea otters made of sea trash however it is a good reminder that we are the care takers of our vast blue seas.
If money is tight or if you cant make it out to the Monterey Bay Aquarium soon enough, don’t forget that the same bay that is internationally known for its jellyfish and whales is the same coast that we have right here in Santa Cruz! Small tide pools along our Santa Cruz coast are a great introduction to our local starfish, anemones and hermit crabs which will only motivate you more to arrange your visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium!]]>