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Winter break in Santa Cruz — now what do we do?

Kids spend the last couple of weeks of fall session looking forward to winter break, but parents face a new dilemma: with school and afterschool activities on hold, how to keep the kids busy?

If you’ve got a kid who needs physical activity on rainy days, there are great options available.

Santa Cruz Soccer Camp is offering indoor soccer, which is something unusual for soccer fans, says owner Bill Trimpi.

“Indoor soccer is a great change of pace for children who normally have recess and or P.E. outside,” he explains. “The quality and action of balls bouncing off walls is exciting and entertaining, which keeps the attention where it should be—on the activity.”

Partial-day camps are available for kids ages 5 to 9 at Holy Cross Gym in Santa Cruz. More information:

Basketball Jones offers camps for honing basketball skills. After camp on the second day there will be a special session on parent/camper “Skills through Drills.” This special presentation will allow parents to gain firsthand knowledge of the drills, right alongside their child.

Full-day camps are offered for two days for kids ages 9 to 17 in both Santa Cruz and Aptos. More information:

Santa Cruz Sports Central offers a week of Camp Flip before and after Christmas. Olympic gymnastics equipment along with trampolines and bounce houses provide hours of fun activities for the children.

Half- or full-day camps for kids 3 to 12 years old. More information:

Other children are more interested in creative expression. West Performing Arts gives them the opportunity to be dramatic before and after Christmas, learning and performing plays like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Wizard of Oz, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

One- to four-day camps are offered for kids 5 to 12 years old. More information:

Art teacher Jenni Newton offers two holiday gift-making workshops at the Studio Pallette. Participants will create unique handmade works of art to give as gifts for friends and family.

3-hour workshops December 4 and 11 are open to all ages. For more information:

The Discovery Learning Center is a new non-profit in Santa Cruz that offers classes and a lending library for families. They will be hosting two special events in December: Seasonal centerpiece-making (free to members or a small donation for non-members): Kids and adults will make beautiful winter centerpieces featuring a candle and lots of creativity. Zuzpel (Puzzle) Day (free): Join with other families to complete an enormous, 1500-piece puzzle, or do one of your own.

Centerpiece-making, December 21. Zuzpel Day, December 28. All ages welcome. For more information:

The Mad Molecule, a new science store in Aptos, is hosting winter break science camps at the Aptos Grange. Science experiments are different for each session of camp so kids can go as much as they’d like without repeats. Experiments include Glowing Bubble Ooze,
Monster Marshmallows,
Plasma Grapes,
High-Tech Science/Gizmos & Gadgets, and
Laser Lights.

Half- and full-day camps take place in the weeks before and after Christmas. For each session there will be a younger and an older group (5-8, 9-13) with special staff for each group. For more information: 688-ATOM

Two much-loved holiday performances return to Santa Cruz this year. Tandy Beal’s Mixed Nutz, an amusing, circus-inspired take on the Nutcracker, will return to UCSC. If you’re looking for the old classic, Santa Cruz Ballet Theater offers all the bells and whistles (and sugar plum fairies) at the Civic.

Tickets for both performances can be purchased at

Cabrillo Stage is offering the classic SCROOGE, based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This musical is the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, a lonely miser who is visited on Christmas Eve by three spirits who teach him lessons of love and giving. Purchase tickets at

Many other family-friendly events and activities are available around the county. Downtown Santa Cruz offers Snow Night, when kids (and really big kids) can play in trucked-in snow, a holiday parade, and carriage rides throughout the month. Visit for more information.

In the Santa Cruz Harbor on December 4, scores of decorated boats parade about the harbor for the Lighted Boat Parade. Visit for more information.

Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton offers a holiday tree walk in addition to their annual holiday lights train. Ride vintage excursion cars, adorned with thousands of colorful lights, as they roll through city streets past homes of Santa Cruz. For more information, visit

And don’t forget our most esteemed visitors who don’t charge a cent for admiring their beauty. Hopefully clouds of monarch butterflies will be on hand at Natural Bridges State Park to dazzle us with a holiday show only nature can provide.

For links to educational information that will prepare your kids to understand and admire the monarchs, visit

Enjoy the season, and spending time with your family!

Posted in Parenting.

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