I’ll start by saying the title is more alarming than it really is.
See, our daughter is 20-years-old and we lost her in Santa Cruz much like Frank Sinatra lost his heart in San Francisco. She packed up, like the mature adult she is, and moved with a dear friend to eventually go to school at UC Santa Cruz. Every fiber in my being understood her desire to not only leave the nest, but to make her new home (at least for the next few years) Santa Cruz.
There’s a reason it’s a tourist destination.
Let’s start with the obvious: beaches and the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Santa Cruz boasts the kind of beaches and activities that encourage people to forget their every day lives and boogie board, swim, play beach volleyball, stroll, dance to summer concerts or scream wildly on a creaky wooden roller coaster that was built in 1924. There’s even a surfing beach called 4-Mile Beach — which, I assume, is because it’s 4 miles long. (I might have to do some research and get back to you on that one).
Santa Cruz has a beautiful downtown with over 100 one-of-a-kind stores and restaurants. Not surprisingly, there are more than a dozen mouth-watering establishments solely dedicated to ice cream with signature flavors like lavender and cantaloupe. (You’ll know where to find me on my next visit!)
And, probably, in large part due to the college crowd, it has a well-known music scene drawing familiar names from the 70’s and 80’s (English Beat is playing this weekend!) and featuring local/regional bands in every musical style and venue that you can imagine.
With a population of 63,000 (I’m not sure if that counts the roughly 15,000 students), it’s almost the same size as our town that my daughter moved away from. But because of the tourist aspect of the area, it feels busier.
According to their website, UC Santa Cruz campus sits on 2,001 acres overlooking the Monterey Bay. Perhaps the most unique part of being a UCSC student, is not the location or the myriad of distractions, but their mascot, the Banana Slugs.
An excerpt from the “History of the Banana Slug Mascot” tells how loved the mascot is by students and outsiders alike: The Banana Slug has attracted a good deal of national attention over the years. In 2008, ESPN named it one of the 10 best college basketball mascots. Four years earlier, Reader’s Digest named it the best. People magazine once dedicated a full-page spread to the Santa Cruz Banana Slug movement. The National Directory of College Athletics named it the best college mascot and Sports Illustrated magazine once named the Banana Slug the nation’s best college nickname.
I’m sure K will have a wonderful education and experience. But you can be sure I’ll be excited to hug her in all her banana slug-ness on the occasions she can rip herself away from Santa Cruz!