Santa Cruz is a magical little town full of life and color. From the Pacific Ocean with its beautiful sandy beaches and rugged cliffside, to the Santa Cruz Mountains laden with the historic redwood forest … adventure awaits for everyone here.
Ready to see the best of it?
If you are looking for a peaceful setting to rest after a day of exploring, the Inn at Pasatiempo offers just that. Slightly off the beaten path, you are just a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle of town … and they offer pet-friendly rooms!
With a pool overlooking the beach boardwalk, Pacific Ocean, and municipal wharf, you really can’t go wrong with the Santa Cruz Dream Inn…within walking distance to the aforementioned in addition to downtown Santa Cruz, you can truly explore the town on foot. Be sure to walk West Cliff Drive which will take you from the hotel lobby to Natural Bridges State Beach.
If you are feeling adventurous, pop up a tent and sleep under the redwood canopy. Immerse yourself in the delightful aroma of the coastal redwoods. The campground at Henry Cowell fills up quickly, especially during the summer, so be sure to book in advance.
FOOD + DRINK
Buttercup Cakes + Farmhouse Frosting
If you are a cupcake person, this is your spot. From Red Velvet Raspberry to Hibiscus Flower Chocolate, each cupcake is made with love, from scratch, using fresh ingredients, no artificial flavors here. Storefront windows open up to the street so you can enjoy the street music and entertainers Santa Cruz is known for.
The oldest grocery store in Santa Cruz and a foodie’s haven: Local produce, an incredible cheese assortment, and one of the best butcher shops in the county. Grab a bottle of wine from their extensive selection, a local baguette from one of the five local bakeries and head to Seabright beach for the afternoon (see below)
A sweet little bakery on the Westside of Santa Cruz with a variety of morning pastries and a specialty sandwich for lunch daily. Be sure to grab a loaf to go. Our favorite is the Goat Cheddar Horn Loaf — it’s super!
Penny Ice Creamery
Unusual flavors and the creamiest, most decadent ice cream in town. From Honey Lavender and Celery Raisin to Chocolate Bergamot and Bitter Caramel, whichever flavor you decide on is served in a house-made waffle cone and is as delicious as can be…’tis a culinary adventure indeed.
Homemade pasta, local wine, and a farm-to-table menu, this tiny eatery has loads of character. Grab a table in the vine covered patio and sip on a local glass of rose. The roasted brussel sprouts are a must.
The Cremer House
Only a 15-minute drive from Santa Cruz proper, Felton is a quaint little town nestled in the redwoods. Set in the oldest building in downtown Felton, the Cremer House is the perfect place to relax after a long hike in Henry Cowell (see below). With local beers and wines aplenty, order the pickled veggies and fried chicken, sit on the wrap-around porch and enjoy the view of the redwoods.
SEE + DO
This gorgeous beach is tucked-away in a neighborhood filled with old Victorian and craftsman homes. The white sand beach stretches from the Harbor to the Beach Boardwalk. Stop at Shoppers Corner (see above) to gather a basket full of picnic goodies and spend the afternoon sunbathing, dipping in the water and watching the sailboats all whilst listening to the distant revelry of the boardwalk. Oh, and leashed pets are allowed, which is always a bonus.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Speaking of the boardwalk, a trip to Santa Cruz is not complete without a ride on the gondola. Grab a cotton candy, find a place to rest under one of the many colorful umbrellas and enjoy the people watching for hours on end. If you plan to visit during the summer, be sure to catch the free live music and movies on the beach on the weekend.
The Flower Shack
With a different array of blooms each week, this delightful flower shop never fails to impress with their unusual selection and outstanding customer service. They sell flowers by the stem if you prefer to design your own bouquet or they will do an exquisite job creating one for you.
Bookshop Santa Cruz
This locally owned independent book store has been around since the 60s. Carrying a wide range of magazines and new and used books, it will make you want to retire your Kindle and get back to the joys of the tangible experience of reading. Grab a coffee from Verve Coffee Roasters down the street and browse for hours.
The ultimate place to relax after a day full of adventure; rent a private room with a spa and sauna and ask for “Room 5” so you’ll have the best view in the house. The prices are also quite reasonable.
Henry Cowell State Park
Spend the day in the redwoods exploring over 30 miles of hiking and riding trails. It’s majestic. Then head over to the Cremer House for a scrumptious meal afterwards (see above).
Have you been to Santa Cruz? Where are your favorite spots?