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Only In Santa Cruz

Thu, Mar 07, 2019

Elise Granata

Elise Granata - Brand & Community Experience Manager

6 Family-Friendly Things to do Downtown on a Friday Night

Congratulations. You’ve wrangled the children, spouse, and possibly even your German Shepherd into the Honda Odyssey. You have braved the parking gauntlet, hovering vulture-like around the last open spot in the Front Street garage. Or perhaps you had an easier time on your five-person tandem bicycle, conveniently latched onto a bike rack in the heart of town.

However you got here, you did it. You made it downtown with your family.

Now what?

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1. Flex Your Creativity at a MAH Make Night

Sure, we’re biased. But shouldn’t we be? Every Friday, get hands-on and make an easy, all-ages craft. Just this month alone, you can dip into a Slime Time workshop, try out glow-in-the-dark yoga, or try out other fun activities.

And when we say all-ages, we mean it: these crafts are as fun for parents and college students as they are for kids.

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2. Pop-Up Storytime in the Bookshop Santa Cruz Kids Section

Swing next door and browse the stacks inside the historic Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Drop by for an epic speed-storytime session by selecting a book, reading to your kids, and testing your quad strength in a fifteen-minute crouch. Pick from one of the dozens of new and used books for the kids to delight in. And as if the homey bookstore ambiance couldn’t get homier, there’s even a rocking horse for added cuteness.

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3. Share Secrets in Downtown’s Own Whisper Wall

At the tip of Pacific Ave, there’s a little-known sonic anomaly in an unexpected place: just outside Jamba Juice. To find it, look for the iconic Monster of Monterey sculpture by Arnold Martin.

Here’s how it works: one person whispers into one corner of the arch while another listens for their sound on the other side. This architectural magic is possible for a very simple reason: because of the acoustics of the circular wall, you can hear what the other person is saying as clearly as if they were right next to you.

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4. Get Your Monkey Bars on at Louden Nelson Park

Adults blow off steam at the bar or the gym or, more healthily, with their therapist. For kids? True catharsis comes from the playground.

Just off the main drag of Pacific Avenue you’ll find a jungle gym oasis in Louden Nelson Park on Maple Street. The kids will get to delight in the monkey bars, climbing structures and swings while you enjoy the ultimate treat: sitting on a bench.

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5. Grab a Bite in Abbott Square

Want to know the real reason Abbott Square Market is the best place ever to eat downtown? Because everybody can get what they want.

With five food options (more to come in late 2019), you can grab a poke bowl, the spouse can grab a lobster roll, and the kids can stuff their faces with delicious, wood-fired pizza without ever leaving a square-block radius. Plus, there’s tons of open space, a gorgeous secret garden, and free live music every Friday night to kick back and enjoy underneath the stars.

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6. Go On a Mural Photo Shoot Hunt

They’re big. They’re everywhere. And they make Santa Cruz a little more colorful. In Downtown Santa Cruz alone, there’s a dozen murals to explore for an Instagram-worthy photo with the fam.

Our personal favorites? The ultra-vibrant and super Santa Cruz Surfin’ Bird mural outside of Old School Shoes on Cathcart and Pacific Ave, the Jump In! mural just next to the clocktower, and the Song of Santa Cruz mural just behind Petroglyph on Cedar Avenue and Walnut.

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