Top things to do

Top Choice Amusement Park in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The West Coast’s oldest beachfront amusement park, this 1907 boardwalk has a glorious old-school Americana vibe. The smell of cotton candy mixes with the salt air, punctuated by the squeals of kids hanging upside do…
Top Choice Museum in Santa Cruz

Seymour Marine Discovery Center

By Natural Bridges State Beach, this kids educational center is part of UCSC’s Long Marine Laboratory. Interactive natural-science exhibits include tidal touch pools and aquariums, while outside you can gawk at the …
Top Choice Ice Cream in Santa Cruz

Penny Ice Creamery

With a cult following, this artisan ice-cream shop crafts zany flavors such as bourbon-candied ginger, lemon-verbena–blueberry and ricotta apricot all from scratch using local, organic and wild-harvested ingredients…
Top Choice Californian in Santa Cruz

Assembly

Farm-to-table and proudly regional flavors feature at this excellent bistro in downtown Santa Cruz. Assembly's Californian vibe belies real culinary nous in the kitchen, and the seasonal menu could include dishes su…
Top Choice Market in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Farmers Market

Organic produce, baked goods and arts-and-crafts and food booths all give you an authentic taste of the local vibe. Shorter fall and winter hours.
Bistro in Santa Cruz

Soif

Following a recent makeover, one of Santa Cruz's more established restaurants is now better than ever, and the chic and cosmopolitan decor showcases a stunning wine list – including tasting flights ($20.50) of local…
University in Santa Cruz

University of California, Santa Cruz

Check it: the school mascot is a banana slug! Established in 1965 in the hills above town, UCSC is known for its creative, liberal bent. The rural campus has fine stands of redwoods and architecturally interesting b…
Landmark in Santa Cruz

Mystery Spot

A kitschy, old-fashioned tourist trap, Santa Cruz's Mystery Spot has scarcely changed since it opened in 1940. On a steeply sloping hillside, compasses seem to point crazily, mysterious forces push you around and bu…
Craft Beer in Santa Cruz

Lupulo Craft Beer House

Named after the Spanish word for hops, Lupulo Craft Beer House is an essential downtown destination for traveling beer fans. Modern decor combines with an ever-changing taplist – often including seasonal brews from …
Brewery in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing

An essential part of the eating and drinking scene in the Ingalls St Courtyard on Santa Cruz's Westside, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is a rustic spot to combine brews and a burger. Crowd into the compact tasting roo…