Santa Cruz Celebrates Surfing, Symphony and Shakespeare

On Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 16:07

Santa Cruz culture features all the usual suspects: museums, festivals and historic sites.

Each and every gem, though, is splashed with a flavor unique to this city. For example, just about every city in America has a museum, but how many of them are surfing museums? The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, on display in the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, tells the story of more than a century surfing history as it relates to Santa Cruz. Surfboards from every era of the sport, early wet suits and photographs of Santa Cruz surfers as far back as 75 years truly bring the culture to life. More traditional than the surfing museum, but equally tailored to the community, is the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.

The 100-year-old Museum, for which a new facility is currently under construction, features permanent exhibits on the people, geology, wildlife and marine life unique to the Santa Cruz region. To see the history of the city firsthand, visit Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, where a cluster of buildings sprang up around the original Santa Cruz Mission. The only building still standing is a single story adobe that was built in 1791 and has been beautifully restored.

The original mission, the 12th built in California in 1790, collapsed in 1857 after being damaged by several earthquakes. Santa Cruz is also a center of performing arts excellence, showcasing Shakespeare Santa Cruz, which USA Today called “One of the Top Ten Most Influential” Shakespeare companies, and the Santa Cruz Symphony, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. Santa Cruz also hosts numerous festivals each year, including the Santa Cruz Blues Festival in May, Mission Adobe Day in September and the Pacific Rim Film Festival in October.