Westside of Santa Cruz, California

Guide to the Westside of Santa Cruz, California

 

Welcome to the Westside of Santa Cruz. I moved to the Westside of Santa Cruz in 1999 to attend college at the University of California Santa Cruz. Side note, I did actually go to Cabrillo College, which is also a fantastic college, a junior college which is located in Aptos, Santa Cruz, California, and then I went to the University of California in Santa Cruz. It had been a longtime dream to live in Santa Cruz. In fact, when I was on a family vacation when I was only eight years old, I decided Santa Cruz is where I want to live when I grew up, and I made that dream a reality. Many, wink, wink, years later, here I am, living my dream in Santa Cruz, specifically on the Westside of Santa Cruz.

The city of Santa Cruz is comprised of what to the locals is known as the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz, the Upper Westside of Santa Cruz, the Beach Flats community, which is near the Santa Cruz Wharf, and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Beach Hill, downtown Santa Cruz, the DeLaveaga area, which is also near what is known as the Santa Cruz banana belt, and the Seabright area, which is near the Santa Cruz Harbor and many, a plethora of Santa Cruz beaches. This area is within the city of Santa Cruz’s jurisdiction and has so much to offer.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk” Photo Courtesy of: beachboardwalk.com

We are on the Santa Cruz Wharf right here on the Westside of Santa Cruz, and right behind me is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is one of the oldest and voted one of the best or the best seaside amusement parks. It was established in 1907 right here in Santa Cruz, California, and it is a wide resource for fun for the whole family. There are rides, there is a ice-skating rink that they put up in the wintertime, and in the summertime, they have free concerts on Fridays and they have free movies on Wednesdays. If you want any information on what the free concerts or movies will be, let me know, I’ll send you a list of that information.

Also, right behind me, this is considered Main Beach right here in Santa Cruz on the Westside of Santa Cruz in California. Every year, we have, every summer, there’s the Santa Cruz Junior Guards where they actually make the kids run and swim, and my kid always complains, but she loves it. Super fun.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Dream Inn”
Photo Courtesy of: dreaminnsantacruz.com

The Dream Inn, which is one of my favorite hotels. I sometimes do staycations at the Dream Inn. All of the rooms have ocean views. they look over Cowell’s Beach, they look over the break. There’s a swimming pool that overlooks the ocean and the beach as well.

I have been living on and loving the Westside of Santa Cruz since I moved to Santa Cruz. The Westside of Santa Cruz is comprised of the Upper Westside and Lower Westside. The division is Mission Street or Highway 1, which splits the Upper Westside of Santa Cruz from the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz. The Lower Westside of Santa Cruz is close to scenic West Cliff Drive, Cowell’s Beach, Main Beach, Steamer’s Lane, which is known to be one of the world-renowned surf spots. People travel from all over to surf right here at Steamer’s Lane, right in Santa Cruz on the Westside.

On top of the cliff on West Cliff Drive on the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz, and we’re overlooking Mitchell’s Beach, which is a really awesome beach when the tide is low. The beach is big and really fun. It’s also a little more gentle than Steamer’s Lane, if you are looking for a good wave to surf. It’s a fabulous place to come swim and surf and enjoy a beach day on the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz. West Santa Cruz also has many dog friendly beaches and parks.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“It’s Beach”
Photo Courtesy of: visitcalifornia.com

I am right now in one of my favorite places, which is right off West Cliff Drive on the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz. I am in this beautiful park called Lighthouse Field, which is a great place to let your children run. People bike here in Lighthouse Field. People run here in Lighthouse Field. Dogs play and have fun in Lighthouse Field on the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz, and we are right across from Its Beach, which is a dog-friendly beach right on West Cliff Drive. Dogs run and frolic, and they have a blast. I don’t know all the rules, but I believe you can have, when I pass by Its Beach, there is no dog on a leash, so I think that’s a positive thing if you are a dog lover on the Westside of Santa Cruz. Right there at Its Beach, you can let your dogs frolic freely and play in the ocean. Generally, Lower Westside Santa Cruz homes, other than the ones closest to West Cliff Drive, will not have ocean views.

On the Upper Westside of Santa Cruz, however, there are many homes with ocean views due to the fact that these homes are situated up on a hill. The Upper Westside of Santa Cruz, which, due to the geography of Santa Cruz, is actually on a hill, hence the given name Upper Westside. It is closer to the University of California Santa Cruz, and thus, there are many Santa Cruz student rentals. Santa Cruz’s University Terrace is an area of homes and condos on the Upper Westside of Santa Cruz that caters greatly to University of California Santa Cruz student rentals, as well as owner-occupied properties.

The Upper Westside of Santa Cruz is close to hiking trails such as Pogonip and Wilder Ranch State Park, as well as Westlake Park. At Westlake Park, there’s a fabulous pond, and kids under the age of 16 as well as seniors 65 years and older can fish. The Upper Westside of Santa Cruz as well as the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz are both great places within the city of Santa Cruz to live and become part of the Santa Cruz community.

Santa Cruz’s Westside is a bustling commercial district filled with local Santa Cruz restaurants, local Santa Cruz shops, and assortment of local Santa Cruz businesses. Mission Street right here on the Westside of Santa Cruz, which runs through the district, connects motorists to Highway 1. Densely populated traffic can be an issue during commuting hours. Remember that when you are shopping for a home, especially if you have to commute over the hill to Silicon Valley.

Notable sections of the Westside of Santa Cruz neighborhood include the mixed-use Swift Street development with craft breweries, restaurants, wineries, shops, and so much more. Points of interest on the Westside of Santa Cruz include Natural Bridges State Park, Derby Park, Seymour Marine Discovery Center, and Lighthouse Field State Park, West Cliff Drive, Wilder Ranch State Park, University California Santa Cruz, Pogonip, Rincon trail, and the Santa Cruz Wharf.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Natural Bridges State Beach”
Photo Courtesy of: californiabeaches.com

We are right here on the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz right off of West Cliff Drive, and this is actually my favorite beach. We are at Natural Bridges Beach. It’s a super beautiful beach, and it’s a huge beach that even when the tide is high, you’ll still have sand to frolic on. But if you can see right behind me, the reason they call it Natural Bridges is because there’s actually a natural bridge that has been carved out of that rock, the one where all the birds are perched on top of, creating a bridge. There used to be a bridge in between those two rocks, but that has now washed away. So, this beach, Natural Bridges State Beach right here on the lower west side is a fabulous, fabulous beach. We love flying kites down here ’cause it gets windy, and if you go all the way over on a low tide, it’s great for tide pooling as well. So, come check it out. We love Natural Bridges State Beach, and I think you guys will, too. Lower Westside of Santa Cruz.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Companion Bake Shop”
Photo Courtesy of: santacruzwaves.com

The Westside of Santa Cruz has a lot going on, probably more than you can pack into one day. Another one of my favorite places to frequent is Companion Bakery on the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz. Their sourdough starter is off the hook. Sourdough is my absolute favorite type of bread of any kind, of any, of. And here, they are knocking it out of the park, so come, taste their bread. They have gluten-free options if that’s more up your alley. They have such delicious breakfast items and baked goods, as well as coffee.

The Westside of Santa Cruz has recently updated Mission Street Inn. They have a loyal following thanks to its tidy rooms, comfy beds, and personable staff. The Westside of Santa Cruz also has the newly built in 2016 sleek Fairfield Inn & Suites. It’s a stone’s throw away from the Westside Farmers’ Market and earns rave reviews with free Wi-Fi, clean, modern interiors, and a hearty complimentary breakfast. It is also a great place to stay if you are visiting your children or child who may or may not be attending the University of California Santa Cruz.

This is one of my favorite subjects, places to eat on the Westside of Santa Cruz. It’s impossible to talk about the Westside of Santa Cruz without mentioning Kelly’s Bakery, the all-day cafe that revitalized the area by converting a former Brussels sprouts packing facility into a spirited hub of eateries, shops, and wineries. At Companion Bake Shop, which is also on the Westside of Santa Cruz, a line forms early each morning for a countertop filled with flaky, buttery pastries and Cat & Cloud coffee.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Bantam”
Photo Courtesy of: Bantam1010.com

Another one of my favorite places to eat on the Westside of Santa Cruz is Avanti Ristorante. It is an Italian delicacy right here on the Westside of Santa Cruz. They have been serving our community for 30 years with their rustic farm-to-table fare and seasonal cocktails, all of which are delicious. You can also snag expert cocktails on the Westside of Santa Cruz at Bantam, where a wood-burning oven churns out blistered Neapolitan pizzas and seasonal organic plates.

 

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery”
Photo Courtesy of: santacruz.org

Another one of my favorite subjects which I love to talk about right here on the Westside of Santa Cruz are places and things to sip. So, Jason and I have been touring around on the Westside of Santa Cruz. Right now, we are on the Lower Westside at the Swift Street Courtyard, which is a fabulous place for local wine tasting, beer tasting, shopping, and dining. We are in front of the Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing. We are in front of Sones Cellars, we are in front of Equinox, which, I like their champagne, it’s fabulous. The West End has really good food and drink options, and then, if you’re into beer, we have the Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing Company, which, I don’t really like beer, but I’m not gonna tell you that. But I will drink wine. We also have MJA over here, which is fabulous. They’re so gracious and sweet.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Stockwell Cellars”
Photo Courtesy of: stockwellcellars.com

And then my all-time favorite is Stockwell Cellars, which we’re gonna go inside and take a look. Come with me, Lower Westside of Santa Cruz, right here in the heart of it all. So, unfortunately, Stockwell Cellars is closed, so I can’t take you inside. But we are right here on the Westside of Santa Cruz in the heart of it all in front of Stockwell Cellars, which I love because it’s kid-friendly. They have little bites, they have a food truck sometimes to visit. They also have live music on a regular basis. So, if you’re thinking about things to do and you wanna check out some wineries that are local and on the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz, come to Stockwell Cellar. It’s a fabulous place to be. Next time, I will take you inside and we’ll have a drink together.

 

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Verve Coffee Roasters”
Photo Courtesy of: calstate.aaa.com

From pour-overs to Pinots, the Westside of Santa Cruz is guaranteed to slake your thirst. This little area right here on the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz is one of my absolute favorites. Sometimes I will run, bike, or walk over here from my house, which is also on the Lower Westside, and in the morning, I will enjoy a nice, fresh cup of Verve Coffee, and in the evening, I enjoy Bantam, which has fabulous drinks, appetizers, fresh, organic, farm-to-table, delightful dinners, three-course options, as well as a wood-fired oven that makes fabulous, blistering, bubbling, cheesy pizzas. Yum! Mmm, that was good.

For oenophiles, the Westside of Santa Cruz is the next best thing to the vineyards thanks to a cluster of tasting rooms pouring local Santa Cruz wine. You’ll find rare Spanish and Portuguese varietals at Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, refillable bottles of easy-drinking red table wine at Sones Cellars, and robust cabs and aloha spirit on the patio of MJA Vineyards.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Venus Distillery”
Photo Courtesy of: lookinto.com

One of my favorite things about living and being a part of the community on the Westside of Santa Cruz is not just the eats, but the sips, and we are going to go check out Venus Distillery, which is a Santa Cruz, Westside Santa Cruz local distillery owned and operated by Sean Venus right here on the Westside of Santa Cruz specializes in small batches of organic, locally-sourced gin, whiskey, aquavit, you say it like that. A-kee-vit? Aquavit and blue agave spirits. It is one of my favorite places, and I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. Venus is about to open at a new location still right here on the Westside of Santa Cruz in the industrial area right by Delaware and Swift, and it is going to be a restaurant as well as a distillery and bar. So, you are gonna be able to have food with your spirit cravings, and these spirits are delightful. You should check it out right here on the west side of Santa Cruz, Venus Distillery, soon to be Venus Distillery and Restaurant. They have vodka now, back by popular demand, and we did also just find out that the restaurant is scheduled to open in the spring right here on the Westside of Santa Cruz, we are at Venus Spirits. You should check it out.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Monarch Butterflies at Natural Bridges State Beach”
Photo Courtesy of: californiabeaches.com

For all you Peter Pans of the world and the real, true children, the Westside has plenty to do and play. At Natural Bridges State Beach, gorgeous, sandy shores and creature-filled tide pools lure beachgoers while a lush eucalyptus grove draws thousands of migrating monarch butterflies each fall and winter. Also, Natural Bridges State Beach on the Westside of Santa Cruz is my favorite place to fly kites. Leading to and from Natural Bridges is stunning West Cliff Drive, a multi-use waterfront trail that teems with joggers, cyclists, and pedestrians basking in the glory of the Monterey Bay. Go at sundown for the real show.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Pogonip Koi Pond”
Photo Courtesy of: santacruzwaves.com

We are on the Upper Westside of Santa Cruz at Pogonip, which is one of my favorite places to hike and trail run. It’s absolutely beautiful up there. There are breathtaking views of all of Santa Cruz, the mountains, you can even see the ocean in some spots, and the trail is very friendly. You can decide to go up into the mountains. It also connects to UCSC if you wanted to go that far in. But this is one of my favorite hiking trails or running trails on the Upper Westside of Santa Cruz. Come check it out. You will not be disappointed.

Nearby on the Lower Westside of Santa Cruz, the beautiful Natural Bridges Farm invites visitors to wander its bloom-filled grounds and fill a basket with fresh veggies, fruits, and flowers plucked directly from the soil.

Westside Santa Cruz, California
“Surfer Statue”
Photo Courtesy of: santacruz.org

The Westside of Santa Cruz may be known as a sleepy surf town filled with ex-hippies, banana slugs, and throngs of tourists reveling in its stunning beaches and historic Boardwalk, but it’s also a haven for passionate doers and dreamers. Nowhere is that spirit more alive than the Westside of Santa Cruz neighborhood, located on the northern edge of the city bordering where industrial buildings and residential homes give way to coastal farmland. The Westside of town has always been a working-class neighborhood, but warehouses that once held agricultural products on their way north to San Francisco now house creative new businesses focused on food, craft beer, wine, and tech, just to name a few. Meet some of the hard-working, passionate innovators who have led to the Westside to become a tight-knit but welcoming community dedicated to creativity and collaboration.

We welcome you with open arms and a loving heart to the Westside of Santa Cruz. Come enjoy what we love so much.

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