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Celebrate Watsonville’s 150th Anniversary


Santa Cruz County, often overshadowed by its big sisters, San Francisco and Monterey Bay, is California’s quintessential beach town, offering visitors great surf, sandy beaches, 14 state parks and a burgeoning independent makers food and wine scene.

This year, the city of Watsonville, just south of Santa Cruz County, is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a robust calendar of events across the year, including a series of celebratory community concerts in October.

Santa Cruz Roaring Camp Train on Bridge - Walter Scriptunas
Santa Cruz Roaring Camp Train c. Walter Scriptunas


Historically known for its agricultural background, the city of Watsonville offers a host of activity for those who mark it on the road-trip must visit map, including the following:

  • Ellas at the Airport – an aviation themed restaurant serving a selection of craft beer and farm to table food.
  • Head’n Home – a family-owned business crafting high-quality, handmade leather hats from western to steampunk.
  • Annieglass – independent sea-inspired glassware artist with new open-air wine bar showcasing a new local winery every month.
  • Gizdich Ranch – an opportunity for families to pick ripe apples and berries.
  • Historic downtown plaza – an opportunity to ditch the car and take a stroll around the grand historic buildings and nibble on the Mexican inspired street food stands.
  • Corralitos Brewery – taking advantage of the burgeoning craft beer in Santa Cruz and offering  wood-sheathed tasting rooms and dog-friendly patios that overlook the surround fields.
  • Sunset State Beach – perfect picnic spot and secluded from the main roads backing onto sand dunes.
  • Manresa State Beach – sitting below coastal cliffs blanketed in multi-coloured plants with fire pits for s’mores.
  • Pajaro Dunes Resort – a pretty bay that offers beachfront holiday homes set amidst rolling sand dunes and whispy sea grass, steps from the water.

Earlier this year, the city also launched interactive walking tour where users will get historic information about each site explored in real time via an app. An outdoor gallery showcasing photographs of the towns street scenes, eateries and buildings, also popped up over the summer giving visitors a daily snapshot of Watsonville’s Past. Furthermore, the Watsonville Hangar opened this summer  housing numerous contemporary food & drink businesses inside a converted WWII-era airport hangar and a series of shipping containers. The new development at the Watsonville Airport promises to be a buzzy new dining hub, including such draws as a popular beer garden with outdoor games, a modern coffee shop, and fresh juices and acai bowls with Brazilian vibes.

Do you need any further reasons to add Santa Cruz to your tour of California?

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

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