Santa Cruz City/West Side Santa Cruz is one of the world’s most famous surf communities, perfectly situated on California's Central Coast just 30minutes from Silicon Valley. Backing up to the coastal redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Cruz offers easy access to a multitude of adventures from the mountains to the sea. Perhaps best known for its iconic Boardwalk, Santa Cruz draws more than 3 million visitors each year.
Santa Cruz City can be categorized into the following areas: Upper West Side, Lower West Side, Downtown, Beach Flats, and Midtown/Seabright. Santa Cruz is known as an artful place to live with an eclectic mix of styles and communities coming together as a result of its proximity to the Bay Area and because of the cohort of students that flock to it every year because of UCSC. 290 homes sold in this area in 2022 and the average price of a single family during that time period was $1.6m, while the average townhome/condo sold for $959k*.
Santa Cruz’s eclectic real estate mix includes stunning ocean front homes, quaint coastal cottages, historic Victorians, luxury properties, and everything in between. View Santa Cruz oceanfront homes for sale and other Santa Cruz properties with our dream team today!
WHAT TO LOVE
- Coastal scenery
- Diverse local businesses
- Top university
- Laid back surf/beach culture
- Music and art scene
- Endless outdoor adventures
- Proximity to work in Silicon Valley
- Luxury home
DINING, ENTERTAINMENT & SHOPPING
Santa Cruz features a multitude one-of-a-kind boutiques, vintage thrift stores, surf shops, museums, wineries, breweries, music venues, and unique restaurants. The main downtown area runs Pacific Avenue, although great food and shopping can also be found in Midtown along Soquel Avenue and on the "Far West Side" at the end of Swift St near Mission St/Hwy 1.
WHERE TO EAT:
- Barceloneta - A stylish Downtown eatery serving a Spanish-style menu of Paella and small plates
- Venus Kitchen - Also a distillery, this hip restaurant has an eclectic but delectable menu including chorizo mussles and a fried chicken plate
- Copal - Authentic Oaxacan fare - grasshopper appetizer included!
- West End Kitchen - Also a tap room, this popular spot serves great woodfired pizzas as well
- Riva Fish House - Best spot on the wharf for fresh fish. Don't forget to stop by their gelato bar after dinner for a truly delicious treat.
- Alderwood - Arguably the nicest/most expensive restaurant in Santa Cruz and a great spot for an incredible steak or oysters. Not your traditional steak house though.
- Seabright Social - Great spot for outdoor dining in Midtown
WHERE TO DRINK:
- Bad Animal - Trendy wine bar meets gourmet Thai food meets bookstore
- Soif - Sophisticated wine bar with great library of wines and food pairings
- Stockwell Cellars - A great pit stop with fantastic wines on the Far West End
- Birichino - Tasting room situated in the heart of Downtown
- Santa Adarius - Highly acclaimed belgian-style brewery with great selection
- Lupelo Tap Room - Laid-back spot for craft beers and Spanish-style bites
- Humble Sea - One of the most popular local breweries in Santa Cruz
- Woodhouse - Newer brewery tucked off River St. that frequently hosts events and live music
- Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing - Tried and true, one of our original breweries - not to be misse
WHERE TO WORK WHILE SIPPING COFFEE:
- Lulu Carpenters - Perhaps Santa Cruz's oldest local coffee shop, located at the clock tower end of Pacific Avenue
- Chocolate - Amazing hot chocolate menu and truffle selection
- Flower Bar - Make your own bouquet while sipping wine or espresso. Also delicious baked goods and sandwich menu + brunch board on the weekends. Don't miss their chocolate bar!
- 11th Hour - Try the "honey bee" latte with lavender honey or the raspberry mocha
- Verve - Our vote for best avocado toast in town, delicious with a hot "bowl of soul"
- Cat and Cloud - Popular newer coffee shop located on Far West End
THINGS TO DO
There's a lot more to do in Santa Cruz besides the Boardwalk. Santa Cruz boasts large sandy beaches, perfect surf, and idyllic coastal walks along the magnificent Pacific coast.
West Cliff is a popular 3 mile walk/bike/skate from the Dream Inn at Cowell's Beach to Natural Bridges. Start off with a bite to eat at the Jack O'Neill Lounge with stunning views of the wharf and bay. A stroll along West Cliff will bring you past several iconic surf spots for all experience levels including the perfect beginners spot at Cowell's Beach (just north of the wharf) and Steamers Lane. Lighthouse Field, across from the Surf Museum and Steamers Lane boasts droves of Monarch butterflies from October to January, as do the eucalyptus groves at Natural Bridges. "Its" Beach, located at the cove just north of Steamers, is a fantastic spot to bring your dog to play; just be prepared that most dogs at this beach are off leash.
A short drive just past Natural Bridges is the Long Marine Lab where you can stand inside the rib cage of a giant blue wale skeleton. A little further up the coast will bring you to more pristine beaches and Wilder Ranch State Park where you can step back in time to the late 1800's and visit an early dairy ranch. Just past Wilder Ranch is Swanton Berry Farm where you can pick up a hot cup of strawberry cider and a famous gar of olallieberry jam before heading back to town (or further up the coast to Davenport).
If the beach isn't your vibe, easy access to the mountains behind UCSC (such as Pogonip or Twin Gates) offer a multitude of hiking and mountain biking paths that never get old. For those that light tight spaces, old caves at UCSC offer a unique spelunking experience. Meanwhile, the more cosmopolitan individual could spend all day just people watching, dining, and shopping along Pacific Avenue downtown. Don't miss a pitstop at Abott Square, next to the Museum of Art & History.