These are the questions we are asked most: What are the best places for families to do sports, arts, music, theater and take care of their health with the best doctors, dentists and clinics ? Well, we have the answers right here in our annual Family Guide. This is a great place to start your quest for the best of Santa Cruz. You can cut out the guide and post it on your refrigerator or, realizing we are in a new century, turn to it on our website, growingupsc.com, where all of our guides are posted year round.
Alison K. Jackson, DDS
7545 Soquel Dr, Aptos
We provide comprehensive dentistry in a caring environment for children of all ages. We are preventive-dentistry oriented and very thorough in our evaluations and consultations. We have a pediatric anesthesiologist on our premises and are able to treat special, challenging children safely and comfortably under a general anesthesia. We have a 24-hour emergency service available for all of our patients.
Community Bridges WIC Program
18 W. Lake Avenue Suite A
North County/Santa Cruz
1105 Water Street, Santa Cruz
WIC provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health care and social services for millions of families, and it plays a crucial role in improving lifetime health for women, their infants, and young children. Part of the nation’s nutrition safety net for over 45 years, WIC serves pregnant and post-partum women, infants, and children through their fifth birthday. Annually, Community Bridges WIC program serves over 500 pregnant women, 800 breastfeeding women, 1,100 infants, and 3,800 children offering a comprehensive range of services to promote healthy lifestyles both on-site and online.
“I have received so much help from WIC from nutritional classes to just being able to ask questions like is my child eating enough or are the eating too much and also with breastfeeding support.”
– Paloma, WIC participant
First 5 Santa Cruz County
First 5 Santa Cruz County promotes the healthy development of children from birth to age 5. Parents and caregivers of newborns can contact First 5 to receive a free “Kit for New Parents” with parenting videos, children’s books, information on caring for babies and local resources. First 5 also offers parenting support through the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, a world-renowned program that strengthens families by building positive relationships. To find Triple P classes or quick tips, visit triplep.first5scc.org or facebook.com/triplepscc
International Academy of Dance
320 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz
Dance For JOY! Classical Ballet – Lyrical – Jazz – Tap – Hip-Hop – Acro ~ Ages 2-Adult.
Providing world class instruction in an encouraging and supportive community ~ Inspiring students of all ages to develop a lifelong love of dance ~ Honing each individuals artistry, technique, focus and musicality ~ Finding balance, agility, strength and flexibility in dance and in life ~ Generating energy and growth ~ Bringing joy to every class and performance! Determination. Discipline. Perseverance. Resilience. Passion.Come to every class… because you love it! We can’t wait to see you in the studio and on stage!
“I love the twirling snowflakes, waltzing flowers and the naughty gingerbread in the Santa Cruz City Ballet Nutcracker. Best of all is the joy of the performers. The venue at the Crocker Theater is the best. My family comes back to watch the performance year after year!”
Jim Booth Swim School
Harvey West pool in Santa Cruz and Watsonville
Be a water wonder! From our Little Otters swim class for parents and their babies to Aquaphobics, our adult beginner class, the whole family splashes together at Jim Booth Swim School. Little Otters is a gentle introduction to our 94-degree pools that will make you confident that you are guiding your infant to a happy water experience. Our lessons emphasize quality swimming in an exciting class taught by our caring, well-qualified teachers. The whole family can swim at Jim Booth Swim School!”
3910 Portola Drive, Suite 2, Santa Cruz
JuneBug’s Gym is a place where your child can experience a fun-filled adventure in movement. We have a caring, respectful, and supportive staff that encourages every child in their growth of large motor skills and gymnastics along with social, emotional, and cognitive development. Our goals for our students are to help them feel control and empowerment in their bodies, to build self-esteem through success, to open up their imaginations, and to feel confidence and joy in their exploration of movement.
MusicalMe, Inc. offering Music Together™
Locations throughout Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County
Elevate your family’s experience with the gift of music! Explore the wonders of Music Together®, a cutting-edge music enrichment program for children aged birth to 5, and the adults who hold them dear. This research-backed program not only enhances your child’s development across various domains but also strengthens family bonds, offering a valuable addition to your parenting toolkit. Siblings (infants under 8 months are free!) are welcome. Contact us for a free class or gift certificate (GREAT holiday gift!).
Santa Cruz Parks and Rec
Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation is excited to provide fun, educational, and active classes for all ages all year round! Scholarships are available. Find our seasonal Activity Guide online – www.cityofsantacruz.com/register.
Seven Directions Creative Learning Center
Seven Directions is Santa Cruz’s premiere creative center for kids and teens! Offering instruction in various arts, sciences, and more in a lively studio with over 30 live exotic animals, we are committed to helping to nurture students’ self-esteem, building lasting friendships, and empowering them as artists, learners, and creative thinkers.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Presented by Scotts Valley Performing Arts
Scotts Valley Performing Arts presents “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson, December 8-10 at the SV Cultural & Performing Arts Center. The play is a hilarious family-friendly romp with a very nice twist of an ending. Details and Tickets at SVPAShows.org
Wonderland Toys & Classroom Resources
19-B Rancho Del Mar, Aptos 95003<p>(next to Safeway)
Wonderland is your small, locally owned, one-stop shop for all the children and teens in your life. At Wonderland you’ll find toys, games, puzzles, books, arts & crafts, science kits, outdoor/active play items, stuffed animals, and so much more. Thank you for shopping local at our women-owned, small family business.
Community Bridges Early Education Division
Community-Based Universal Preschool Programs:
• Fairgrounds: 2667 East Lake Avenue, Watsonville
• Vista Verde: 1936 Freedom Boulevard, Freedom
• Sycamore Street: 121 Sycamore Street, Santa Cruz<p>• Nuevo Dia: 135 Leibrandt Avenue, Santa Cruz
• Redwood Mountain: 7103 Highway 9, Felton
• Highlands Park: 8500 Highway 9, Ben Lomond
Providing FREE (California State Preschool Program) & tuition-based early education, from the redwood mountains in the San Lorenzo Valley to the vibrant fields of Watsonville. We serve infants through TK with the guidance of highly experienced, bilingual/bicultural staff who understand the importance of play and social-emotional learning as the key foundation for academic success and ignite a love of lifelong learning. We honor the rich cultural backgrounds that have given Santa Cruz County its historical place as a change-making community, with core values to provide access to quality early care and learning to create empowered futures. Together we’re better.
“They are helping my daughter with her growth and development. She is always learning new things.”
-Parent in the Early Education Division
Community Bridges Highlands Park Early Education Center
8500 Highway 9, Ben Lomond
Nestled in the magnificent redwoods and adjacent to the San Lorenzo River, our center serves infants through TK. Built from the foundational dreams of local early childhood legends, we extend our vision with an emphasis on the importance of play, equity, and social-emotional learning as key foundations for academic skills and the development of a lifelong love of learning. As the only Quality Counts program in SLV, we are dedicated to providing a safe and nurturing space to ensure access to outstanding early learning opportunities for all. Like the redwoods that surround you, we invite you to stand tall and thrive with us!
“I feel lucky to receive such warm, nurturing care for my son. Staff are flexible and accommodating to our needs and schedule. Center is always clean.”
– Current parent at Highlands Park Early Education Center
Gateway School, K-8th grade
255 Swift Street, Santa Cruz
Located on the west side of Santa Cruz, Gateway School provides students in grades Kindergarten through 8th grade with an exemplary education. Small class sizes and programs in Art and Technology, Music, Spanish, and Life Lab complement a robust academic curriculum grounded in Social Emotional Learning. We value collaboration, creativity, and a love of learning, and encourage our students to become compassionate and responsible citizens. Gateway School is the only K-8 school in Santa Cruz accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Its mission is to inspire children to lead lives of purpose and compassion through scholarship and citizenship, and all are welcome. Learn more by visiting gateways.org.
Mount Madonna School, Preschool-12th grade
491 Summit Road, Watsonville
Mount Madonna School (MMS) prioritizes the social, emotional and physical well-being of its students, while emphasizing academic excellence, positive character development, and creative self-expression. MMS strives to prepare well-rounded humans who succeed in college, value collaboration, form meaningful relationships, and engage with their communities, nation, and the world. Visit MMS and learn how its transformative education is within reach for your family. Flexible tuition and transportation are available, with bus stops throughout Santa Cruz County. MMS does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, medical condition, gender identity, or gender expression.
Orchard School K-6
2288 Trout Gulch Road, Aptos
Orchard School, established over 30 years ago, provides a unique, yet comprehensive K-6 education. At Orchard, we weave together the magic of an extraordinary faculty, a 14-acre campus and a down to earth philosophy that nourishes and honors the natural growth and development of children. Small class sizes, an organic garden and an animal farm create enriching “whole child” learning experiences that are hands-on and individualized. We provide Strong Core Academics, Lab-Based Science Curriculum, Art, Music, Physical Theater/Circus Arts, Electives, Ceramics, Archery, Swimming, Leadership, Field Trips, Drama Productions, and more.
Santa Cruz City Schools
At Santa Cruz City Schools, students find belonging, room to explore & high expectations. In Transitional Kindergarten & Kindergarten, students are welcomed into education with a play-centric, curiosity-driven experience. In Elementary, students learn in classrooms, gardens, kitchens, art studios, and in the field–and in our after-school enrichment programs. In Middle School, we encourage independence and emotional development as students push themselves academically. In High School, we provide countless opportunities: more AP classes, more athletics, more artistic and performance outlets, more leadership opportunities, more community connections and more supports to launch students into their next adventure in college or career excellence.
Santa Cruz Montessori Ages 18 months – 14 years
Main Campus (Primary and Elementary)
6230 Soquel Drive, Aptos
Winston Campus (Young Children’s Community and Jr. High) 2446 Cabrillo
College Drive, Soquel
Established in 1964, Santa Cruz Montessori is a non-profit school serving children 18 months to 14 years. Our beautiful classrooms and outdoor environments engage the children’s senses as they learn. Based on a deep understanding of child through adolescent development, our programs meet the interests and needs of our students, engaging and challenging them to do their best. We offer a supportive community of learners and an exciting Montessori curriculum including humanities, math, sciences, and arts. Our mission: as a Montessori learning community, we inspire lifelong learning and a more peaceful world by nurturing the natural development of the whole child.
Santa Cruz Waldorf School, PreK-8
2190 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Waldorf School nurtures the whole human being in every individual, cultivating the capacity of head, heart, and hands. We offer a rich and balanced curriculum in which intellectual and artistic development are both vital and fully integrated. Specialty teachers work alongside class teachers to provide students with diverse experiences in language, movement, music, arts, games, and gardening. Our magical, rural campus is nestled in the redwoods above USCS. Our community is warm and joyful. We are committed to protecting childhood, supporting each individual, respecting nature and all life. Santa Cruz Waldorf School cultivates self-directed, empathetic, and free-thinking individuals with the courage and capacities to serve an ever-evolving humanity.
SLVUSD Charter School
325 Marion Ave, Ben Lomond
Since 1993, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District’s SLV Charter School has offered a range of programs that support a variety of learners. Active learning, parent involvement, and student voice are key components of our programs. In addition to supporting all academic areas, charter programs foster student creativity, social-emotional development, and the pursuit of individual student passions. Built on a foundation of strong ongoing teacher, student, and parent collaboration, SLV Charter boasts a wide variety of program structures including: Nature Academy’s 5-day week program (6-8), six 2-4 day a week homeschool-hybrid programs (K-12), and an independent studies program (K-12).