By Gia diGiovanni
At Growing Up, we take a broad view of Valentine’s Day and hope your gift list includes all those you love: children, friends, romantic partners, and yourself. Our community is known for its creative culture and we also LOVE that our local, independent businesses are a big part of that. Let’s love them with support.
One-pound Heart Gift Box, assorted milk and dark chocolates, packed to order $90
If saying “I love you” is hard for you, these small-batch, super-fresh chocolates with recipes perfected over many years will easily compensate. Chocolatier Richard Donnelly attended culinary school in Paris and brought back a passion for ultra-fine chocolate that attracts customers near and far. Open on V-Day. Shipping available.
1509 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 458.4214
Truffle Heart Box $18.95
For the Valentine who loves to taste new tastes, it turns out you CAN get away with gilding the lily on occasion. Truffles are chocolate on top of chocolate and are exponentially improved by the layer of chocolate coating over sumptuous chocolate ganache. This box of seven truffles goes another step with seven different flavors.
1492 Soquel Ave. Santa Cruz, 425.1492,
Fruit Paté Squares, 6-pieces assorted $16
The ripe, locally-grown, organic fruit of these sweet-tart, five-ingredient confections (we know we’re way over the adjective limit!) makes them a local delicacy. Ashby also makes excellent chocolate confections using Santa Cruz’s own White Label Chocolate, and adds whimsical visual flourishes. 5-piece heart-shaped chocolates $18. Order online or at the store.
16C Victor Square, Scotts Valley, 454.8299
Heart-Shaped 2-Layer Cake serves 6-8 $27
Red velvet, carrot, or chocolate with raspberry filling
Heart-Shaped Passionfruit Guava Cheesecake
serves 6-8 $29
All locals should be initiated to The Buttery, but if you haven’t been, be aware the cakes are so dense and lusciously rich that their size should not be undervalued. Even a small slice is more than you think, and more satisfying than you might imagine, so be careful with the knife. Online ordering.
702 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 458.3020
Lucky Star Gift Box – one dozen cookies – $19.95
Our favorite local cookie company (because their cookies are so gratifyingly chewy) said they named this gift box “for your best friend, because you are lucky to have them.“ Let them know on Valentine’s Day why you chose this gift.
Pacific Cookie Company
1203 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 429.9709
If one cuisine is associated with love, romance, and comfort, it’s cucina Italiano. Even the Tramp, a street dog, was savvy enough to woo a refined Lady over a plate of spaghetti.
Family Dinner Special $40
Spicy Breadsticks, Salad (choice of eight), Pasta or 14” Pizza (choice of 20+ items)
Mangia bene even while we wait for the delight of the pizza dough spinning performances to return. Bring home Valentine’s dinner for the whole family or order a Kids Pizza Kit and let the kids learn the joy of cooking. $8 per kit (serves one kid). You can also order their handcrafted, flavored vodka for mixology you should try at home.
1100 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 469.4400
Family Dinner for 4 $78
Our Suggested Take-Out Menu:
Sunday Gravy for 2 with choice of pasta $18 each;
Two Kids: Marinara, Pesto OR Alfredo Penne $8.95 each
Two Cannoli to share $7 each
One of the most reliably delectable kitchens in town, you can throw a dart at Lillian’s menu and love your meal. Get a load of the Sunday Gravy ingredients: Italian sausage, spare ribs, beef and pork simmered slow in a savory tomato sauce served with penne, spaghetti or fresh fettuccine. Add meatballs $5 or sausage $4. Sound like love?
Lillian’s Italian Kitchen
1148 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 425.2288
things to do
Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday this year, which will make it possible for more families to celebrate together with an outdoor or online activity. Consider a trip on the waterfront or joining one or more of the nonprofits that provide so much education and fun for our children.
90-Minute Cruise on Elkhorn Slough
Children under 12 — $32; Over 12 + Adults — $43
There is simply no comparison between seeing wildlife in the distance and seeing it up close. Let a naturalist guide you and your Valentines through the local waters, bring you to your wild marine neighbors, and teach you about their fascinating lives. You’ll be safe and comfortable in a 32-passenger quiet, clean-energy, electric catamaran.
Monterey Bay Eco Tours
10932 Clam Way, Moss Landing, 200.3454
Weekend Sunset Public Charter Feb. 14 — 3:30pm-5:30pm
$68 Age 15+
$35.50 Age 14 & under
Infants Age 1-3 no charge if space available (child rate if there is a waiting list)
This classic Santa Cruz experience from the Yacht Harbor out onto the Monterey Bay is a must. The crew, the music playlist, the wine — oh, and the boat, the wind, the water and the sky at sunset — all are exhilarating. Just do it.
Chardonnay Sailing Charters
790 Mariner Pkwy., Santa Cruz, 423.1213 Chardonnay.com
Family Membership $50
Free admission for two adults (children under 18 are free), two single-use guest passes, and discounts on camps.
Our local museum is wonder-full in recent years after some past years of neglect of the old exhibits. The quality of SCMNH’s online videos and virtual experiences is as good as much of the work being produced by national-level science educators, too. Check it out and support this vibrant institution that opens its doors free to kids and produces free content (and is temporarily closed).
Museum of Natural History
1305 East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, 420.6115
Family Membership $70
($60 Seniors, UCSC alumi
Free admission for two adults, your children and grandchildren (under 18), two one-day guest passes.
We all look out at that vast blue bay in awe and appreciation, but below the surface it’s a mystery to most of us. Fortunately, decades of scientists have demystified many underwater secrets and have made them entertaining to understand. Virtual exhibits, Virtual Science Sundays, and weekly Labside Chats are all worth enjoying and supporting while the Sanctuary is temporarily closed.
Seymour Center National Marine Sanctuary
100 McAllister Way, Santa Cruz, 459.3800
Family Membership $60
Admission for two adults + four kids (under 17)
Members can bring lunch to enjoy anytime on the outdoor rooftop deck when the museum reopens, and the Secret Garden currently features outdoor exhibits (adjacent to Abbott Square). Check out online content and upcoming exhibitions planned. Members also receive discounts at some participating Abbott Square food vendors and free or discounted admission to MAH events.
Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
705 Front St., Santa Cruz, 429.1964, SantaCruzMAH.org
Bullies, Victims & Bystanders Game $36.95
How easy is it to engage your children in lengthy conversations about manners, morals, empathy, and emotions? Right?! Sneak in those lessons in a spoonful of sugar with this game the whole family will enjoy as challenging social situations are decided by the group.
19AB Rancho Del Mar, Aptos, 316.7261, WonderlandSantaCruz.com
Disc Golf Driver, Mid-Range, & Putter $52
Get everybody out of the house with something all ages can enjoy. Start off with three basic discs made by Innova. This approximate price point will buy you three higher quality discs, and there are a variety to choose from.
1855 41st Ave, Capitola, 476-0233; 136 River Street, Santa Cruz, 423-9555
Face Masks by O’Neill $9 Kids | $11 Adults
We’ll be wearing these dang masks for a while, so why not add some cool factor and get the family ones that sport the logo of our favorite hometown brand O’Neill? Fourteen styles come in many colors.
O’Neill Surf Shop
1115 41st St., Capitola, 475.4151; 110 Cooper St., Santa Cruz, 469.4377 & 400 Beach St. (in the Boardwalk), Santa Cruz, 459.9230, US.Oneill.com
Books on the Theme of Love — recommended by our new bookstore, Two Birds
- Kids ages 5 to 8: Love from the Crayons, Drew Daywalt $9.99
- YA ages 12 to 18: Tweet Cute, Emma Lord $17.99
- Adults: Evvie Drake Starts Over, Linda Holmes $17
- Love from the Crayons From the author of The Day the Crayons Quit, this sweet book shows that love comes in many colors.
- Tweet Cute Two teens run rival social media accounts for their families’ restaurants (one large, one a deli), get into a viral fight, and discover that love can be found when you least expect it.
- Evvie Drake Starts Over By Pop Culture Happy Hour podcaster Linda Holmes, this grounded romance between two unlikely characters: a widow pitied by her small town neighbors, but whose grieving is simply different than anyone realizes; and a washed-up major league pitcher in a slump who is looking for a place to hide out.
Two Birds Books
881 41st Ave., Santa Cruz, 900-5588, TwoBirdsBooks.com
Annieglass Heart Plate $63
Serve Valentine chocolates on this heart-shaped dish designed by our local girl who made good in a big way. The rim is hand-painted with 24K gold, and the process itself, along with organic materials, visible brushstrokes on many of the metal-rimmed pieces, and movement in the kiln give each Annieglass work of art its trademark handcrafted appearance.
Dell Williams Jewelers
1320 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423.4100
Don’t be a cliché on Valentine’s Day. Get her something she won’t shove to the back of the closet and wear only on your anniversary. She can wear her new favorite comfy sweats and shirt out all day or at home all night — together or with other separates.
1119 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 423.7363, Aamoureuse.shop
Heart Shape Stone Pendant $6 each
Choose from Rose Quartz, Amethyst, Sodalite, Howlite
Semi-precious minerals are one of the best values in jewelry for all ages. The beauty and the feel of these natural stones is not far at all from that of “precious” gemstones. All minerals form crystals and if the experts who tell us that minerals and crystals behave similarly to batteries and can charge us with subtle energy are correct, well, that is a gift that keeps on giving! There are many silver chains in stock, or put it on a piece of waxed string or jewelry cord.
Pacific Mall, Capitola Mall, Capitola Village
The Astrology of Love & Sex, a book by Annabel Gat $19.95
Human lovemaking may be ancient, but we still need new books that address modern notions such as gender fluidity (well, we are finally recognizing it), and challenge traditional philosophies and behavioral norms. The twelve chapters accomplish all that, and look at how each sign likes to “flirt, date and fool around,” plus include compatibility profiles. The attractive book is illustrated and has gilded page edges. Order online until Pure Pleasure reopens.
111 Cooper St., Santa Cruz, [email protected], PurePleasureShop.com
Endless Love No-Flavor Lubricant (or Massage Emollient) $29.95
This heavy-on-the-pink boutique has the feel of a sensual boudoir. Even the labels on their line of locally-created lubricants are feminine and appeal to a woman who relishes playful sexploits. Endless Love is food-grade, non-sticky, easy to clean, and “reactivates” itself with a kiss or a lick so it lasts longer on the skin than most lubricants. Try their popular flavored lubricants, too.
Romantic Nights for Two Boutique
1714 Brommer St, Santa Cruz, 688.9900, RomanticNightsForTwo.com
Bookshop Santa Cruz
1520 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, 831.423.0900, bookshopsantacruz.com
Offering the perfect gift for everyone on your Valentine list: books, greeting cards, toys, Slug apparel and items, and gift cards.
Music Together, Canta y Baila Conmigo, & Rhythm Kids w/MusicalMe, Inc.
Locations throughout Santa Cruz and Santa Clara County, 831.438.3514
Need a special gift for that young child (ages Birth to 8 years) in your family or your circle for friends? Give them something different: a music class featuring quality time spent together. Give them a gift certificate (for any amount) for any of our music classes specifically developed and organized for young children. Give them the gift of time – time spent with the adoring adults in their lives.
Nothing Bundt Cakes
3555 Clares St, Suite YY
Choose from up to ten delicious Bundt flavors topped with signature cream cheese frosting. And select a special Valentine design! See website for menu, pricing, to order online, and to contact the bakery. During Covid, the lobby is open and they also offer delivery and curbside pickup.
Red Apple Cafe
Deer Park Marketplace, Aptos
783 Rio del Mar Blvd, Ste 15, (831) 685-1224
The Red Apple Cafe has been an Aptos tradition since 1988. Explore their extensive breakfast and lunch menu on their website and give a gift of a delicious meal or gift card for a future fun dining experience.
The Farm Bakery Cafe & Gifts
6790 Soquel Dr., Aptos. (831) 684-0266
Serving the Santa Cruz County community for over 40 years, treat your loved one with a fabulous famous fruit tart, or any number of delicious fresh-baked goodies or take-out breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner! In the gift boutique, you’ll find jewelry, personal accessories, books and cards, housewares, toys and children’s apparel, body care, and more. Or how about a much-appreciated e-gift card!
9217 CA-9, Ben Lomond | (831) 609-6132
The flavors of Italy are here in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains at Casa Nostra. Spend a day in the redwoods and experience the flavors of Italy.
379 Felton Empire Rd | (831) 335-4441
Family run and dog friendly boutique winery established in 1941. Specializing in Pinot Noir, Organic Wines, and Hard Ciders. Open on Thursday-Monday.
Lanctot Art Services
6222 Hwy 9 | (831) 338-3232
Art Services by Steve & Mary Lanctot, Custom Picture Framing, Fine Art Restoration, Local Artist’s Gallery. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10-5. 39 Years in SLV.
6223 Hwy 9 | (831) 704-7420
Gifts, artisan goods and treasures for a life well lived. A locally-owned shop nestled in the Santa Cruz mountains supplying style with substance.
Skavenge Art Gallery
6245 Hwy 9 | [email protected]
An ever-changing collection of nature-inspired visionary art and hand crafted goods. All made right here in the heart of Felton. “Live a life uncommon.”
6235 Hwy 9 | (831) 704-7025
Tomboy Outpost features a unique collection of vintage and new apparel for men women and children, local handmade goods with a rocking roll western twist.
6253 Hwy 9 | (831) 335-3611
Instagram @ white_raven_pour_house
Enjoy delicious tea, coffee, and espresso drinks, with a large selection of alternative milk, sweet pastries, and savory bites. Home of Larry’s Famous Chai.
6240 Hwy 9 | (831) 335-7322
Friendly Service, 100% Organic Produce, Natural Groceries, Meats, and Bulk Foods. Full Service Deli, Salad and Soup Bar, Juice Bar, Vitamins, Body Care, Local Beer and Wine.
Adventure Sports Unlimited
303 Potrero St, Suite 15, Santa Cruz, CA,
Do you want to take your relationship to new depths? How about diving into a new sport? For a romantic underwater adventure sign up for the Lovers’ Special for SCUBA lessons with Adventure Sports. if you purchase two spots, you get $75 off each! You must use code 75off when purchasing online:) asudoit.com