Ben Lomond is a small town with a big soul. Charming eateries such as Spanky’s and Henfling’s are local favorites. Residents here feel a strong sense of community. Centrally located, the family-owned and operated Ben Lomond Market takes the place of chain grocery stores. Just across Mill street, the Santa Cruz Mountains Art Center hosts art classes and live music performances; this facility also holds an art gallery and other resources, such as kilns, for local artists. Ben Lomond Park is home to a volunteer-run library, a dance slab, and Wilder Hall community center; where the Kreative Kids program and children’s theatre classes are hosted. The Park Hall Community center also offers theatre programs for thespians of all ages.
Park Hall is a community center that was established as a public trust in 1923. An elected board of trustees takes care of the day to day business of the hall. All meetings of the trust are open to the public, but only residents who live within a 1.5-mile radius of the theatre can vote new members into the trust. Built from an old stable, Park Hall once was a small local movie theatre. Now Park Hall is home to the Mountain Community Theatre, and the Little People’s Repertory Theater (for children and teens), both groups produce live theatrical performances and sell tickets to support their productions and upkeep the building. The hall can also be rented out, profits are put toward maintenance, but rental rates are fairly low, and even lower for locals because this is a place intended to serve the community.
Just northeast of town lies the Loch Lomond Recreation Area, a reservoir resulting from the earth-fill dam constructed in the 1950s, barricading Newell Creek. The main purpose of this 3-mile long reservoir is water storage for Santa Cruz residents. While no swimming is allowed, Loch Lomond offers boat rentals, large picnic areas, and 12 miles of hiking trails to explore. Pets are even allowed to accompany you on trails and in picnic areas. Stocked annually with trout, Loch Lomond is a popular fishing spot. Surrounded by redwood forest, this reservoir is a perfect place to relax and clear your mind. While the towering trees running along the shores may make you feel worlds away, this hidden body of water is only a stone’s throw from Highway 9, and 13 miles from beachfront Santa Cruz.
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