Sharon’s day is the fourth in our series A Perfect Day in Santa Cruz.

My perfect day begins with sleeping in very late… I’ve always been a night owl and have no need to greet the day with the sun coming up. After I finally get up in the morning, I take my time leisurely reading the Sunday paper. Yes, I know, so “old school”! I linger a bit with a heavenly cup of Good Earth tea, and then I eventually head out on a walk. Living on the Westside means I don’t have to go far for the most fabulous walking path with a view of the ocean, West Cliff drive. The sea salt spray that breaks over the cliffs and the reflection of the sun on shimmering water makes this the ultimate place to go to unwind. When I get almost to the end of the path, I take a detour inland to the Swift Street Courtyard, home to Kelly’s French Bakery for some freshly baked sourdough bread to go with the cheese and fresh fruit I have in my insulated backpack. These are for an early afternoon picnic with a friend in her beautiful backyard garden a few blocks away.

After my picnic, well fed and rested, I head back down to the water ending up at breezy Natural Bridges beach. There are lots of young families playing on the beach, building sand castles, boogie boarding in the surf, flying kites, and just having a ball. It’s getting late and the sun is starting to go down, and there is no better place to watch a sunset in all of Santa Cruz. You feel like you’re at the edge of the world with nothing else to see except the deep azure blue of endless water. Sitting serenely on a bluff, I look out to sea with the horizon turning “sky-blue-pink”, watching as the fireball sun eventually disappears into the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

I briskly walk home, to change and meet my husband. A self confessed early bird, he was up and out of the house hours before me. We head downtown to Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Bar, for dinner and drinks. Once inside the dark, candlelit, back room filled with bamboo tiki torches and Polynesian masks, you feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical island. This place has a fun vibe, killer drinks and the best sweet potato fries in town.

After dinner, we have some time before the Cabrillo Music Festival starts at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, so we take a short stroll to my all time favorite business, Bookshop Santa Cruz. I love to meander among their amazing array of stacks and stacks of books, but I spend even more time in their unique card department. They have some of the most eclectic and creative cards I’ve ever found, and everyone who knows me will tell you I am the “Queen” of finding “just the right card” for someone. And to top it off, they are next door to Chocolate, home of the ‘Frida’, a rich, Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon, and spices. This divine, decadent, drink has just enough heat to raise some eyebrows! Oh my God, Books and Chocolate together… food for thought, for body and soul!

As concert time nears, we make our way to the Civic. Kronos Quartet is playing tonight. This original, contemporary, quartet has been at the forefront of the kind of music that the festival puts on every year. People come from all over the country for this outstanding event, and I don’t even have to leave Santa Cruz to experience performances by some of the best musicians in the world!

After the concert and with the end of the perfect day approaching, we step into Red Restaurant and Bar for a nightcap. Settling into one of their comfy couches in front of the fireplace, I’m having the ‘Marilyn Monroe’ cocktail, a delicious drink with champagne, pomegranate liqueur, citronage and a sweet cherry that sinks to the bottom of the glass, waiting patiently for you to finish it off. After one of these, I’m feeling as close to tall, blonde and voluptuous as I’ll ever be at the end of one incredible day in Santa Cruz. We wind our way towards home with the strains of violins and cellos still playing in the air…

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