Sunset on the beach in Santa Cruz, California (Karl Weatherly/Digital Vision)

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California (PhotoDisc)

Lighthouse in Santa Cruz, California (Abrahm Lustgarten)

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What to do in Santa Cruz

Don’t dismiss Santa Cruz as a simple surfing town. Locals know that the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation is one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the United States. Family-owned wineries here produce stellar lots of pinot and chardonnay, and the area has been compared to a younger Napa Valley. Twenty minutes south of Santa Cruz, in a temperate valley of redwoods and olive groves, the Corralitos Wine Trail winds its way to Alfaro Family Vineyards, owned by a former artisan bread maker, and Windy Oaks Winery, with views of Monterey Bay. At the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Summit to Sea Wine Trail passes Loma Prieta, a vineyard that produces the rare pinotage grape, a more robust, thicker-skinned version of pinot. On Santa Cruz’s urban west side, oenophiles sip vino in a lively courtyard setting, with vineyard tasting rooms nearby.

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