The Best Things to Do In Santa Cruz When You Have Toddlers

With a great selection of public parks, beautiful beaches and a wide array of fun activities to do indoors, Santa Cruz is one of the best places in California for great toddler entertainment. No matter what your young child likes to do for fun, you can find the perfect way to keep them busy and entertained all day long. Best of all, all of the great things that toddlers enjoy in Santa Cruz all just happen to be perfect things for the whole family to enjoy as well.


Natural Bridges State Beach

The beach is always fun for all ages and toddlers enjoy spending time on the soft sandy beaches of Santa Cruz. One of the more popular beaches is Natural Bridges State Beach and this beach has plenty to offer year-round. During the spring and summer, you can take your toddlers to see seals, whales and other sea life splashing around just a little way out from the shoreline.


During the fall, it’s always fun for the kids to take a trip to see the beautiful monarch butterflies as they flutter around eucalyptus trees.  Along the shoreline kids always like to see if they can find seashells, sea anemones and other ocean life that may wash up onto the shore. There is a great picnic area at Natural Bridges and a visitor center where you can learn a little about the local history. Be sure to take your wallet because the kids usually like to grab a little trinket in the small gift shop in the center. There are plenty of nature trails surrounding the beach where you can take off on your own, or enjoy a guided tour where you can hear all about the local wildlife and get a glimpse into the history of the area.


Seymour Marine Discovery Center

What better way to entertain a toddler than letting them see, and touch, a shark! At Seymour Marine Discovery Center, the young and the young at heart can enjoy learning about sea life in a fun way where being hands on is the best way to learn. The center features a large aquarium where children and adults will have the opportunity to touch a live shark and see many other sea animals. Outside, there are large skeletal sculptures of elephant seals, gray whales and blue whales and families can enjoy hiking on more than 45 acres of beautiful coastal land where you can see luscious prairie land, wetlands and scrubland. Many animals live in the area and young children always like to see brush rabbits, bobcats and other animals while enjoying the beautiful area surrounding the center.

For directions and admission information, please contact Seymour Marine Discovery Center by calling: 831-459-3800.


Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

From small workshops to crafts and demonstrations, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History is one of the best places to spend the day with your child in Santa Cruz. The first Friday of every month the museum offers free admission to everyone and every third Friday, it is Kid Happy Hour from 4-5 pm where there is always plenty of play time and fun activities for kids of all ages.

Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History can be contacted by calling 831-429-1964.


Roaring Camp Railroads

No matter what time of the year it is, Roaring Camp Railroads is always a popular attraction for families and children of all ages from toddler to teen and even older. Once you are all aboard the train, you can choose from taking a round-trip ride to scenic Bear Mountain and back or a longer ride all the way to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.


During the holidays, families enjoy taking a ride on the train when it’s all lit up with Christmas lights and children get to have a little visit with Santa Claus himself! The special rides begin at the boardwalk and the children will be able to ride the rides, play the games and enjoy great holiday snacks and other foods during their time on the ride and while visiting the boardwalk. This is an attraction that is fun every day of the year and people of all ages enjoy riding the train.

To reserve a spot on the train or for further information on times, special events and other information, you can contact Roaring Camp Railroads by calling 831-335-4484.


There are also several local movie theatres, public parks and of course, plenty of shoreline to take the kids to have fun at the beach while in Santa Cruz. No matter what your child enjoys, you can find plenty to do with them in beautiful Santa Cruz, California.

Things to Do in Santa Cruz When You Have Time to Be Alone

Sometimes, the best way to explore a city is to just take off all on your own where you have plenty of time to see the things you want to see, have fun on your own time and get a good view of what the world around you can offer. When in Santa Cruz, you will find a plethora of things a person can do all on their own. Whether you like swimming, hiking, shopping or dining, you can have it all in Santa Cruz. To make it easier for you, here are the top five things you may find of interest when you have time to spend roaming around town on your own.



If you can swim, you can surf. Even if you are a little shy on the board at first, or you just paddle out and float back in on a wave, you will find that being on the water has a calming effect and is truly a great way to spend your free time while at the beach. If you don’t surf yourself, maybe sitting back and watching the other surfers will be of interest to you.


Santa Cruz is well-known as the best surfing spot in the nation, and if you don’t already know how to surf, there are plenty of great locals who will be more than happy to give you a few tips to get you up on the board. Cowell Beach is a great beach for those who are new to surfing as the waves are a bit docile but the area has a friendly vibe and meeting new people is going to be easy to do.


The Mystery Spot

mystery-spotThe Mystery Spot is truly a magical spot to visit and one that you will long remember. It is an area that spans approximately 150 feet and completely defies the laws of physics. Gravity is something that you cannot take for granted at this popular spot and some of the locals may tell you that there is an alien ship buried somewhere beneath the ground. You can take a 45-minute guided tour of the area and if you enjoy nature, you can take off on your own for a refreshing nature hike into the woods where you can catch a great view from atop a steep hill, see wildlife and beautiful flowers and eucalyptus trees all around and spend some serene time getting back to nature.


Glaum Egg Ranch

Glaum Egg Ranch, located in Aptos, is an organic, cage free farm where you can purchase eggs from a vending machine. Where else in this country can you pop a few bucks into a machine and get a dozen fresh eggs? While the eggs are being send down the chute, you’ll be able to listen to a silly chicken song and watch an animated chicken dance. While it may sound silly, it is entertaining to watch. Even better, you can take your eggs with you and have a great breakfast once you get home. This farm has been around since the 1920’s and is a favorite for locals as well as visitors in Santa Cruz.


Take a Hike

Hiking is such a peaceful thing to do and in Santa Cruz, you will find a wealth of trails where you can get back to nature and enjoy the wilderness. Big Basin State Park offers a great area for hikers and many tend to enjoy hiking to Berry Creek Falls. You may want to be in decent shape to hike to the falls as this is an 11-mile hike and you will be climbing up some pretty steep trails along the way. If hiking that great a distance is not something you feel up to doing, there are many other great trails within the park that will take you through the woods where you may catch a glimpse of wild rabbits, bobcats and other wildlife as well as some of the most beautiful natural scenes in all of California.


The Giant Dipper

The Giant Dipper is an incredible roller coaster right on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and it has been one of the most popular attractions since 1924 when it first opened to the public. The coaster travels at 55 mph and is a whopping 70 feet tall. It is one of the largest, and most popular wooden roller coasters not only in the U.S., but in the world. This roller coaster has not only been one that the young and young at heart have enjoyed riding, but it has also been featured in blockbuster movies including The Lost Boys in 1987 and Dangerous Minds in 1995. You can ride it one time, or you can grab a wristband at the ticket booth and get a pass to ride it over and over all day long.


You can also spend the day at one of the beaches that line the 29 miles of shoreline or take a wine tasting tour, a fishing trip, whale watch, ride a train or just take some quiet time and sit by the water and watch the sun rise or set. Santa Cruz has something to do day or night and it is the perfect place to venture off on your own to take time to have a little fun all by yourself.

Family Friendly Activities In Santa Cruz

ArboretumUCSC Arboretum – The Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz is one of the hidden jewels of the university and indeed, the town itself. (For the uninitiated, an arboretum is a collection of trees and plants.) The gardens are full of plants from around the world, particularly other temperate climates similar to ours like Australia and New Zealand. (There is also a large section of California natives.) You’ll see plenty of birds swooping through the air around the trees, particularly hummingbirds. You can find maps, hours, and more information about the arboretum here.

Natural Bridges State Beach – Natural Bridges is also on our list of best local beaches and for good reason: not only does it offer one of the nicest beaches, but it also offers plenty to do around it. In addition to the beach, you can visit the Semour Marine Discovery Center, check out the local tide pools, and in October, you can visit the eucalyptus grove to see the migrating monarch butterflies (a highly recommended experience). Since the beach is a the end of West Cliff Dr., there’s also the option of walking along the path that follows the coastline from Natural Bridges to the Boardwalk.

Museum of Natural History – Another great spot to visit for families with young kinds, the Museum of Natural History, is located near Seabright beach. It offers displays and presentations that explore the coastal community, whether that be plants, animals, or humans. It’s been around for over 100 years and is sometimes referred to as the “Whale Museum” due to the large whale sculpture in front of the building. The museum is located at 1305 East Cliff Dr. and close at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. on weekends (closed Mondays).

The Mystery Spot – One of our kookiest attractions is the Mystery Spot, which you’ll likely notice displayed on a bumper sticker on cars around town. Essentially, it is an old cabin in the woods that seems to defy gravity, due to an optical illusion created by a downward slope that appears to go upward. As a result, water can be seen appearing to flow uphill and visitors can stand upright at bizarre angles that do not seem possible. Definitely a treat for kids to take in, as well as the adults.

Roaring Camp Railroads – Roaring Camp is a passenger train located in nearby Felton. There are two main routes that it runs: through the forest and to the beach. The holiday lights train is also quite popular around Christmas time, when you can packed train cars on the tracks that run through downtown. A great experience for kids and adults alike! You can find more information about tickets and pricing here.

BoardwalkBeach Boardwalk – The classic amusement park on the beach, the Beach Boardwalk is one of the most popular attractions in town. It’s often filled with visiting tourists and out-of-towners, but make no mistake, locals like the Boardwalk too. Admission is free and there are tons of rides you’d find at larger amusement parks, in addition to the Giant Dipper, one of the oldest wooden roller coasters in the world. There are also more kid-friendly rides, as well as a video arcade, beach, and plenty of places to to grab a snack or meal.

You may be interested in…

Dining With Your Dog, Santa Cruz Style

Santa Cruz is many things: beach town, surfer town, hippie town … the list goes on and on. One thing that often gets lost on the leftmost coast is that we are absolutely a dog-loving town. For many locals, taking their dog with them has became part and parcel of leaving the house and luckily, there’s enough places that allow it that you’ll have plenty of options. In this blog post, we take a look at some of the best local spots you can grab a bite with your pooch by your side.

SeabrewSeabright Brewery – The Seabright Brewery is also on our list of best local breweries and it’s a great place to take your pooch. With a spacious outdoor seating area that’s nearly as big as the interior, there is plenty of room for owners and pets alike to enjoy a relaxing outdoor meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) alongside the steady trickle of the outdoor fountain. The Seabright Brewery is located at 519 Seabright Ave. near Murray St.

Harbor Cafe – Just on the other side of the harbor from the Seabright Brewery is the Harbor Cafe–another great spot to enjoy a meal with your dog. The Harbor Cafe also has plenty of outdoor seating, but it is primarily a breakfast and lunch spot since it closes at 2 p.m. The Harbor Cafe also made the cut of our best local breakfast spots in Santa Cruz, particularly for those to try their delicious mimosas.

Hoffman’s Bistro (Downtown) – Hoffman’s is a downtown favorite of many locals, particularly after the renovations and changes brought on by their stint on the TV show “Restaurant Impossible.” There is a small outdoor seating area that allows dogs.

Surfrider Cafe – The Surfrider Cafe has a couple of outdoor tables around the perimeter of the restaurant that allow dogs while eating. As for their food, they have a nice selection of sandwiches, including plenty of options for vegetarians. They also have a decent beer selection and multiple TVs, on which you can usually find local sporting events. They do not currently have a website, but you can stay up to date on what’s going on by visiting their website here.

CHkCharlie Hong Kong – A local favorite for lovers of Asian street food, Charlie  Hong Kong has more outdoor seating than it does in its small main building. Unlike some of the other places on this list, their outdoor area is fully covered, providing a nice amount of shade. It is often a rather crowded place to eat so you should keep that in mind if you’re going at peak hours. They generally have a dish set out with water for dogs.

Other useful tips

The Best Coffee Houses In Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz is known as a bit of an artsy town and with that comes a lot of interesting local coffee shops, from the spacious to the quaint, the standard to the quirky, we offer a little bit of everything when you’re looking for your caffeine fix. Hera are five of the best local spots to grab a cup of coffee and relax, get some work done, or visit with friends.

LuluLulu’s Cafe (Octagon) – Lulu’s “Octagon” cafe is in the in front of the Museum of Art & History. In addition to serving tea, coffee, and espresso, they regularly have art exhibits on display and are often involved in the First Friday art tours. It’s a great place to stop by for a quick cup before you head to the museum or go for a stroll through downtown.

Verve Coffee Roasters – Verve has several locations in & around Santa Cruz, including downtown and in the Seabright neighborhood, both of which allow dogs. The downtown location is significantly larger inside, offering patrons a place to read, study, work, or just enjoy a fresh cup of joe. The Seabright location is significantly smaller on the inside, offering only outdoor seating. It’s also located close to Seabright State Beach and some good dining options on Seabright Ave.

Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting – In business since 1978, Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting is a long-established local business in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz. They use a small batch roasting process and have an strong commitment to fair trade coffee to help promote ethical practices within the industry.

FireflyFirefly Coffee House – Firefly is a small coffee house on Front St., near where it merges with Pacific Ave. toward the beach side of downtown. Sitting across form Kaiser Permanente arena, it’s one of the few spots on the far end of downtown where you can grab a decent cup of coffee. They also serve bagels and breakfast sandwiches.

Cafe Pergolesi – Cafe Pergolesi is a coffee house that’s in an old converted VIctorian house on Cedar St. near downtown. it’s got plenty of quirk and charm, with small and large rooms, nooks and crannies, and plenty of outdoor seating on the deck. You’ll often find Pergolesi (or “Perg”) is crowded with college students and young locals reading or working on their computers. The cafe also serves beer and has a small food selection.

The Abbey – The Abbey is an art, coffee and music lounge that is attached to and owned by the Vintage Faith Church. If you’re looking for that hip, relaxed coffee shop atmosphere with students and local professionals tapping away at their laptops, this is it. It is hands down one of the best public works spots in town and they’ve got plenty of caffeinated beverages to keep you moving. They offer both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as weekly live events.

Exploring the Best Beaches In Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is called “Surf City” for a reason and there’s plenty of coastline to enjoy, whether you’re paddling out or just relaxing on the sand. This blog post will cover the best beaches in town, from the popular and crowded to the scenic and less-traveled.

seabrightbeachSeabright State BeachSeabright State Beach is on the midtown side of the Boardwalk, opposite of Main Beach. As such, it is a bit more touristy and crowded than some other beached, but it does offer a different experience that is a good time, especially around “beach holidays,” which means any sunny day that most people have off of work. Seabright is a large beach with plenty of space to set up shop, build a bonfire, and bring your dog (on-leash only).

Its Beach – Its Beach at Lighthouse Field State Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Santa Cruz’s Westside, in part due to the fact that it is a dog-friendly beach. Situated right near the lighthouse, which is home to a surfing museum, as well as world-renowned surf spot Steamer Lane, Its Beach is enjoyed by tourists and locals alike. Whether taking your dog for a run on the beach or just strolling by for a sunset view, it’s easily one of the best spots in town to relax and enjoy the ocean vibe along West Cliff Dr.

Seacliff State Beach – Located in Aptos on State Park Dr., Seacliff State Beach is another of Santa Cruz County’s signature beaches. Unlike the others on this list, it has a pier, which is often used for fishing. There is also a concrete ship, the SS Palo Alto, permanently situated at the end of the pier. The SS Palo Alto has an interesting history of how it came to the area as an unused WWI tanker ship.

Pleasure Point – Pleasure Point is one of the most popular surf spots in the area, located just south of Santa Cruz in nearby Capitola. The Point is also home to wet suit inventor and local icon, Jack O’Neil, which only adds to the allure of the famous breaks and surf contests held here. While it doesn’t offer much in terms of actual beach space, it is one of the best places to soak up some sun and watch the surfers.

natturalbridgesNatural Bridges State Beach Natural Bridges, at the end of West Cliff Dr., may very well be the crown jewel of Santa Cruz beaches. It’s a great spot to park and take in the view of the bird-covered rocks and what remains of the natural bridges. Or you can stroll down to the beach to stick your toe in the water. The beach itself tends to be less crowded than some others, but it is a popular destination for cars that drive along West Cliff, particularly at sunset.

You may be intrested in…

The Best Annual Events In Santa Cruz, CA

From street fairs to flower festivals and film screenings to wacky races, Santa Cruz offers a little bit of everything when it comes to annual events. For a community of its size, there is a constant stream of things to do, many of them outside and often with a drink in hand if that’s if you’re preference.

GreekfestGreek Food & Cultural Festival – The Santa Cruz Greek Food & Cultural Festival is a three-day event in September that is set up each year on Church St. in downtown. Events range from live musical performances to community events and, as always, there is a healthy helping of tasty Greek food. The festival has been running for over 35 years locally and is complemented by the Greek Food Faire, which takes place in the Spring.

Woodies on the Wharf – One of the largest classic car shoes in the Bay Area, Woodies on the Wharf offers locals a glimpse at more than 200 wood-bodied vintage cars. Held on the Santa Cruz Wharf in June each year, it’s one of the signature of events for a city that has come to be known for it’s surf and surf culture alike.

O’Neill Coldwater Classic – Perhaps the most well-known annual event in Santa Cruz is the O’Neill Coldwater Classic. Held each year at the world famous surf spot, Steamer Lane, the Coldwater Classic attracts top surfers from all over the world to compete. It also attracts a large local crowd to West Cliff Dr. near Lighthouse State Beach to watch the action from close-up.

monarchsMonarchs at Natural Bridges – Each year, Monarch Butterflies migrate to the eucalyptus grove at Natural Bridges State Park and create an amazing, dreamlike sight for viewers. Hundreds of the butterflies cluster together in large clumps on the trees and start to become more active as the sun comes out, dipping and fluttering about the area. It’s definitely one of the top local experiences for outdoor lovers and you can learn more about it here.

Clam Chowder Cook-Off – One of the biggest events at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Clam Chowder Cook-Off generally draws a jam-packed crowd to the beachside amusement park. Local chefs, often clad in strange attire, put out their best clam chowder, which is then judged by different categories: Boston & Manhattan style, amateur and professional. (There are also other categories to keep with the fun spirit of the event.) Attendees can buy a tasting kit to try the different offerings from local businesses.

Wharf to Wharf Race – One of the hardest tickets to get in town is an entrance into the Wharf to Wharf Race. It sells out quickly, not just because Santa Cruz is a community that loves outdoor, beachside exercise, but also because it’s as much a celebration as it is a race. You’ll see entrants dressed in any number of colorful outfits, encounter get-togethers and music along the way, and get to soak up one of our marquee local events.

Open Studios Art Tour – Open Studios is an event featuring hundreds of local artists displaying their work in local homes, businesses, and office spaces for the public to see (and buy, hopefully). The event is held each October over several weekends and locations are spread throughout town. You can find more information about the event here

Read more

The 5 Best Local Breweries In Santa Cruz, CA

Like much of the rest of the U.S., Santa Cruz experienced a boom in the craft beer scene over the past few years. It seems like a new brewery opens up about every month or two and the trend has contributed to our little slice of coast becoming a haven for beer lovers. This blog post reviews some of the most popular breweries in and around Santa Cruz. (Because this list is limited to five, there are several worthy places that are not included, such as Discretion Brewing, Beer 30, East Cliff Brewing Company, Sante Adairius, the West End, and the East End.

99bottles99 Bottles Of Beer On the Wall – A classic pub style brewery in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, 99 Bottles has one of the widest local beer selections you’ll find. While there, you’ll notice the walls are covered in small plaques that honor the patrons who have tried all 99 beers, complete with a short saying. 99 Bottles is not just a bar, however; they also have regular events like trivia nights and live music, as well as a full kitchen with standard bar fare.

New Bohemia Brewing Company – New Bohemia Brewing Company is a relatively new player on the scene in Santa Cruz, but they have quickly become a local favorite. Located on 41st Ave. in Capitola, they have both an upstairs and downstairs bar that provide a rotating stock of different brews. As with most of the local breweries, they have regular events that include comedy nights and live music. As of this writing they do not offer food.

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing – The Westside’s local “hole-in-the-wall” brewery, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing serves up tasty suds from their small slice of the Swift St. Courtyard. SCMB is a certified organic brewery that is family owned and operated. They opened in 2005 and their outdoor patio is one of the best places to enjoy a beer and soak up some sun. Directly across from SCMB is the West End Tap & Kitchen, a newish spot that serves up several beers of their own, along with some fancy food dishes.

Lupolo Craft Beer House – Another relative newcomer to the local craft beer scene, Lupolo is in downtown Santa Cruz situated between two other well-liked local watering holes: Hula’s Island Grill and 515 Kitchen & Cocktails. Lupolo’s has a bit of a fancier feel to it, but offers a great, relaxing atmosphere. It’s a perfect place to stop off for a drink after visiting the downtown farmer’s market on Wednesday.

Seabright_brewerySeabright Brewery – A neighborhood bar, restaurant, and brewery, the Seabright Brewery has the atmosphere and charm you’d expect to find at a popular local watering hole. The have ample outdoor seating, which is great at just about any time of day, as well as a host of locally brewed beers. Their food is standard bar food and appetizers, including a great (affordable) happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Besides local breweries, you can try out also Santa Cruz wineries, coffee houses, dive bars or casinos.

Local Golf Course Guide & Review | Santa Cruz, CA

Though it may not offer quite the pedigree of a city like San Diego, Santa Cruz is absolutely a golf-friendly part of the Central Coast. With several local courses of varying difficulty, there’s truly something for everyone, from newcomers to the game to seasoned pros. We’ve even got a local course designed by world famous course architect, Alister Mckenzie.

Not all of these courses are in Santa Cruz, but those that aren’t are all within a short drive from the area. If you feel adventurous, there’s plenty more great courses to see just south in Monterey.

Driving range at Delaveaga Golf Course.

Driving range at Delaveaga Golf Course.

Delaveaga Golf Course & Lodge – Delaveaga is a nice, full 18-hole course that is challenging but not overly difficult. They regularly hold tournaments and have events at the course, which tend to draw a nice local crowd. The clubhouse is also home to a restaurant called “The Lodge” which offers some decent eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Delaveaga also has one of the nicer driving ranges around, giving golfers a chance to work out the kinks before they hit the links. There is also a putting and chipping green.

Pasatiempo – Pasatiempo is a lovely course designed by renowned course architect Alister Mackenzie, who also designed Augusta National. The course is “semi-private,” meaning that it is only open to the public during certain times. It should be noted that Pasatiempo has both a dress code that must be adhered to, as well as a requirement that all spikes be plastic rather than metal. It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautifully designed and well-maintained courses we have in the local area.

Seascape – A very nice 18 hole course located in nearby Aptos, Seascape is a nice complement to Delaveaga as they are similar in difficulty. It’s got plenty of ups and downs, ravines, and a few holes that offer some unique challenges. Though the course is located very near the ocean, there aren’t many spots that provide the sweeping views of a Pebble Beach. They also have practice facilities, a pro shop, and food and drink at the well-maintained course.

valleygardensValley Gardens – Valley Gardens is a straightforward and fairly easy nine hole course located in nearby Scotts Valley. It’s the most affordable of the local courses, but is also the least challenging. There is a pond on the course that’s in play on some of the holes, though it’s fairly easy to navigate around unless you mis-hit the ball. A great place to grab a quick round if you don’t have time to play 18.

Boulder Creek – The Boulder Creek Golf Course is an 18-hole course that is fairly short and straightforward. There are a lot of tree-lined fairways that will punish errant shots, but there is not anything particularly tricky or difficult about the course. It’s a great course to play a “quick” 18 (if such a thing exists) since it is much shorter than the other local 18-hole courses.

Golf belongs – without any doubts – among the most favorite outdoor activities Santa Santa Cruz has to offer.

Pizza Places In Santa Cruz: Best Of The Best

pizzamyheartSanta Cruz has a ton of options for pizza and Italian cuisine lovers and you can get everything from a standard slice of greasy goodness to a artisanal pizzas made in wood-fired ovens. With apologies to those left off this list, here are the best places to get a slice or pie in Santa Cruz. 

Pizza My Heart – If you like thin crust pizza, this is the place for you. A no-frills pizza joint with locations from downtown to Capitola (and beyond), it’s hard to beat a good slice from Pizza My Heart. Most locations have a distinctly local feel to them, from the surf-themed downtown location to the hole-in-the-wall location in Capitola Village. The slices are greasy in the best way possible and the lines are usually long so pack your patience if you’re hankering for a unique slice.

Woodstock’s Pizza – Woodstock Pizza is more akin to a sports and pizza place. They have multiple TVs that always have sports on, a small arcade, and they host local trivia and game nights. Woodstock’s is popular with university students and locals alike, offering a bit more of an “experience” than some other places–think pizza parties and family friendly fun (and beer).

Engfer Pizza Works – Engfer’s is a local joint in the Seabright neighborhood that has a quirky appeal. Aside from delicious pies made in a wood-fired oven, they also have a beer cooler from which you can buy drinks for your meal, or grab some to go. There’s a small side room that also has a ping-pong table for guests to use.

Bantam Pizzeria – A higher-end pizzeria, Bantam also makes pies in a wood-fired oven from their location on the Westside of Santa Cruz. They have limited hours, typically from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Their emphasis is on artisanal pizzas made with organic and locally sourced ingredients, both of which shine through in the great flavors of their pizza.

Upper Crust Pizza & Pasta – Upper Crust has what is probably the best Sicilian style pizza you’ll find in Santa Cruz. They are also known locally for having one of the best daily lunch specials in town, as well as their nightly dinner specials, which include pasta, pizza, drinks, and wings. Upper Crust has locations on Soquel Dr. and on Mission St. on the Westside of town.

Pizzeria Avanti – Avanti is more similar to Bantam than the other restaurants on this list. They also focus on organic, natural ingredients that sourced from throughout the county. Their offerings are more along artisanal lines, which means the cost is a bit higher than you’ll find at a standard pizza-by-the-slice place. They also have some interesting toppings that you might not find at other places in town.