Oh Santa Cruz…
Back when I was going to school in the Bay I used to love visiting Santa Cruz with my friends. The city is laid back and so are its people! I mean, has been ranked as one of the happiest towns to live in for a reason.
What to Do
- Head to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk! I know that the boardwalk is definitely a tourist trap, but who cares! The boardwalk is essentially an amusement park with views of the ocean, which is absolutely incredible. Not to mention, you have direct access to the beach from the boardwalk – so bring towels and/or a blanket and hangout with friends and family there! Just keep in mind, this is a popular destination so it will likely be crowded.
- Go surfing!! – I went surfing in Santa Cruz one summer and it was a blast! Just be sure to wear a wetsuit since the water is absolutely freezing! I may or may not have been able to feel my feet after surfing for a few hours since they were so cold. There are also sea lions that hangout in the water.. so it was crazy having them so close to me!
- Visit the surfing museum. This museum has around 120 years of surfing history and is located inside a cute little lighthouse along West Cliff Drive. The hours are limited, so be sure to check if it is open here before heading out.
- Walk around Downtown Santa Cruz. This was one of my favorite things to do with my friends in Santa Cruz after hanging out at the beach. There are so many cute shops to explore! Even Winston has explored Downtown Santa Cruz!
- Explore one of Santa Cruz’s farmers markets. You can be sure to find plenty of fresh fruits and veggies as well as other fun goodies. It’s also a very fun atmosphere to be a part of! All of the vendors are so laid back and happy to chat. Find out more about the local markets here.
- Go for a coastal hike. Check out Wilder Ranch State Park or just take a stroll down West Cliff Drive! There are plenty of beautiful spots to take in all of the beauty around you AND there are plenty of stunning photo spots! You really can’t go wrong exploring the coast!
Where to Eat
- Surfrider Cafe – this is an odd one to put on a foodie list, but hear me out, this place is awesome. The vibe is SO Santa Cruz. The food is tasty AND the prices aren’t bad. Ian and I loved stopping here for avocado fries, yes, avocado fries, everytime we were visiting Santa Cruz. They also have a dog friendly patio which made trips with Winston so much more enjoyable! – update: as of July 28th, 2019 Surfrider Cafe has been sold to Kinderr Brewery 😦
- Steamer Lane Supply – a great spot to grab a light breakfast & coffee right off of the coast!
- Abbott Square Market – a former jail house turned market place! They have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options as well as locally roasted coffee. It is honestly just a fun place to eat at!
- The Penny Ice Creamery – this is just a Santa Cruz classic. If you are in Santa Cruz and want ice cream, this is where you need to go. Just ask anyone in Santa Cruz and they will agree.
Where to Sip on a cup o’Joe ☕️
- Santa Cruz Roasting Company – these guys have been roasting in Santa Cruz for around 40 years and know what they are doing! I really enjoyed their coffee BUT this is probably not my favorite coffee shop to hangout in. It’s not quite as trendy as some of the other coffee shops in the area but is a bit crowded due to it’s reputation and great coffee. I would recommend buying a bag of their fair-trade coffee beans or grab a cup to go!
- Verve Coffee Roasters – Verve is also a powerhouse in Santa Cruz and is actually sold throughout the Bay Area. They currently have 3 locations in Santa Cruz and they are stunning! After Maddie & I went hiking in Santa Cruz, I used to hangout in Verve editing our photos!
Think I am missing a spot? Comment below or email me at brittscaffeinatedchronicles@ gmail.com and I will be sure to add it to this guide!