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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,, where all of our guides are posted year round.

Adventure Sports Unlimited
303 Potrero Street, #15, Santa Cruz
We teach infants through adults the joys of water and adventure. Our ocean programs introduce families to our magnificent marine environments with camping trips to Santa Cruz Island and Big Sur. We explore the world-renown underwater landscape of Monterey Bay through our Open Water Scuba courses. Come play with us!

Alison K. Jackson, DDS
Children’s Dentistry
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.

Be Natural Music
740 Water St, Santa Cruz
Be Natural Music is a Jazz & Rock Music School based in Santa Cruz, with a new location in Cupertino serving our community over the hill. Our schools offer private music lessons, Real Rock & Jazz Band classes for youth and teens, workshops, and music camps. We offer musical instruction on voice, piano & keyboard, guitar, bass, drums & percussion, saxophone, clarinet, ukulele, harp & beginning DJ lessons.

Boulder Creek Recreation & Park District
Providing quality programs and services through the provision of facilities, parks, and activities that enriches and improves the quality of lives of people living in our community. The BCRPD runs KBCZ 98.3FM, Community Tool Shed, Bear Creek Community Center and Pool, BC Recreation, Junction Park, Garrahan Park, and Barbara Day Dam Park. Assisting the community by offering affordable child care, rental space for weddings, meetings and parties, free programs for adults and children and local events. “

Cabrillo’s Crocker Theater
Nutcracker performances Saturday 12/17 and Sunday 12/18 at 1pm and 4:30pm each day Kick-off the holidays with joy! Add sparkle to the season with the magic of the Nutcracker! Gorgeous costumes, dazzling sets, and exquisite dancing sure to delight and inspire all ages! One weekend ONLY! A steadfast holiday tradition with something new to see each year! What better way to celebrate than with family, friends, beauty, smiles, community, laughter, and the Nutcracker? Experience the Magic!

Child Development Resource Center
Santa Cruz County Office of Education, 400 Encinal Street, Santa Cruz
Finding the right care for your child is one of the most important decisions your family can make. The Child Development Resource Center (CDRC) is your one-stop source for Santa Cruz County families seeking child care. Our Child Care Referral Specialists can answer your questions — by phone or in-person — and connect you with licensed child care centers and licensed family child care homes to meet your family’s needs. CDRC maintains the only up-to-date list of child care programs in Santa Cruz County. Providers are encouraged to help families by placing a free listing in the child care referral database.

Dientes Community Dental Care
Main Clinic: 1830 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz 831.464.5409
Live Oak:  1500 Capitola Road, Santa Cruz 831.276.7010
Beach Flats: 302 Riverside Ave, Santa Cruz 831.464.5411
Watsonville: 1430 Freedom Blvd., Suite C, Watsonville 831.621.2560
Dientes Community Dental Care is a full-service dental provider located throughout Santa Cruz County. We practice whole family dentistry including children, adults, and seniors and our patients are cared for by experienced pediatric and general dentists. As a non-profit dental service, our focus is on high-quality, affordable dental services, including exams, x-rays, fillings, sealants, and root canals. We accept Medi-Cal and we have affordable sliding scale fees for uninsured patients. We offer bi-lingual services. Se habla Español! Dientes, providing dignity through dentistry for 30 years.

Freedom Schoolhouse and Farm
Freedom Schoolhouse and Farm offers a unique program in a beautiful setting. Our curriculum is emergent with a strong emphasis on creating a connection to the natural world. We seek to promote and maintain basic principles of Freedom, with the goal of educating our children to be critical thinkers. Our open classroom creates a warm environment, and we encourage freedom of choice and relationship building. Set on several acres, every day is filled with the beauty of nature, joys of friendship, and fun activities geared toward artistic expression, physical movement, and the development of a lifelong love of learning.

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

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!”

Junebug’s Gym
3910 Portola Drive, Suite 2, Santa Cruz
831.464.BUGS (2847)
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.

Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar
1100 Pacific Ave, Downtown Santa Cruz 831.469.4400
Kianti’s offers a lively yet comfortable atmosphere where friends and families can gather enjoying delicious food and drinks while appreciating friendly and professional staff. Our unique menu is designed to give patrons the option of family style dining either indoors or cozied up on one of our heated patios.Join us Friday and Saturday evenings to see the pizza spinning team, accompanied by dancing servers and a flame-raising kitchen. Order for curbside and delivery of our entire menu and drinks including Kianti’s Signature Cocktails, Kianti’s Handcrafted Liquor, Kianti’s Wine, Kids Pizza Kits and Family Dinner Special. Don’t forget that we cater!

Mount Madonna School, Preschool-12th grade
491 Summit Road, Watsonville 408.847.2717
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. Financial assistance and transportation 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.

Music Together/MusicalMe, Inc
Locations throughout Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County
Call/Text: 831.332.9002
[email protected]
Offering Music Together®: A research-based music enrichment program for children birth to age 5, and the grownups who love them. This program enhances children’s learning in multiple domains (mentally, physically, socially, etc.), increases family engagement and richly adds to each family’s “toolbox”. Siblings are welcome, especially infants who may attend free if they are 8 months or under. We offer classes both outdoors and indoors.  Contact us today to try a free class and bring the joy of music into your family’s life. 

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 Montessori
Ages 18 months – 14 years
Main Campus (Primary and Elementary) 6230 Soquel Drive
Aptos Winston Campus (Young Children’s Community and Jr. High) 244 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.

The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program
The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program is a world-renowned program available to families in Santa Cruz County who have children ages birth to 16, including children with special needs. Backed by more than 30 years of international, scientific research, Triple P offers families proven strategies for strengthening relationships with their children and for preventing or managing a full range of parenting challenges – tantrums, sibling rivalry, homework, bullying, bedtime, communicating with teens, and more. Triple P partners with First 5 Santa Cruz County, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, and the Santa Cruz County Human Services Department.