By Michelle Fitzsimmons
City on a Hill Press Editor
Living in a coastal enclave, sequestered from the greater Bay Area by the Santa Cruz Mountains, and boarded by beautiful yet bare beaches to the north and south, Santa Cruz residents — and the sojourners here for just four years — tend to stay close to home.
Even within the city itself, few venture much farther than Pacific Avenue or West Cliff Drive when seeking entertainment and adventure.
Well, City on a Hill Press wants you to broaden your horizons. There is much more to Santa Cruz than what you see on the West Side bus routes. Here are seven reasons to venture beyond the Santa Cruz Harbor, into the rarely-experienced East Side of Santa Cruz. And don’t worry; you don’t need a car to get there.
<b>One Double Oh Seven Club at 1007 Soquel Ave.</b>
Pool, darts, indoor shuffleboard (yes, indoor shuffleboard), and fuse ball will keep you occupied as you take down premium draft beers in this spacious, well-lit bar right on Soquel. There is plenty of room to sit or hang out with a pool cue on your shoulder. Oh, and if you get the munchies, they have a snack machine.
<b>Irie Motivation at 3617 Portola Ave.</b>
It’s a tragedy many a stoner has lived through, often in slow motion. A clumsy friend, or sheer freak accident, leads to your favorite bong or bubbler lying in pieces on the floor. Oh, the horror! Unless your piece is literally reduced to shards of glass, consider taking it to Irie Motivation on Portola Avenue. The glass blowers at Irie aren’t miracle workers, but they are skilled at what they do. If the ganja gods decide to take away your double percolator or your favorite pipe, you can select its replacement from the finely crafted merchandise Irie Motivation has to offer.
<b>The Forest of Nisene Marks</b>
Explored every trail of Upper Campus? Want to get away from it all? Aptos’s sanctuary of trees and creeks may be just what you need. The Forest of Nisene Marks, once ravaged by loggers, regenerated itself into one of the most pristine natural monuments in the state. You can hike, jog, and bike on more than 30 miles of trails, and climb to an elevation just over 2,600 feet. Wile away the hours among redwood trees and breathe in the fresh forest air as you rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit in this splendid state park.
<b>East Cliff Beaches</b>
The sunset is beautiful no matter where you see it, but if you’re tired of the same old spots, or your favorite beach is getting too crowded, trek over to the East Side. Some of the best sands to waste away an afternoon or watch the colors of the twilight sky are at the 14th Avenue beach, Twin Lakes Beach, and Seabright Beach. A walking/biking path runs parallel to East Cliff Drive and has many access points to get down to the water. Seabright Beach also has iron fire pits designated for bonfires, but be warned: rangers snuff them out at 10 p.m. sharp.
<b>Pink Godzilla at 830 41st Ave.</b>
Ask around where to find the best sushi in Santa Cruz and an enlightened few will recommend a place not found downtown. Pink Godzilla serves a delectable assortment of Japanese fare in a lively dining atmosphere. If you have a large group, you can sit on pillows in one of the tattami-mat-covered private dining booths. The food is delicious, and there is plenty of sake to go around — just be warned that on the weekends it can be impossible to get a table.
<b>Frenchy’s Cruzin Books and Video at 3960 Portola Dr.</b>
Santa Cruz is home to many specialty shops focused on our most primal instinct — sex. Some offer classy lingerie, while others have a collection of X-rated movies tucked away in a back room behind dangly beads. Frenchy’s is like none of these places. It arguably holds the largest amount of adult merchandise in all of Santa Cruz, perhaps overwhelmingly so, but you’re bound to find exactly what you’re looking for. The staff is knowledgeable, attentive, and helpful.
<b>Crow’s Nest at 2218 East Cliff Dr.</b>
Perched above the Harbor, the Crow’s Nest is a restaurant by day, but at night closes down its main dining area, leaving its upstairs bar, dance floor, and balcony open until 11:30 p.m. On a clear night, you can see the moon and stars reflected on the harbor’s waters as you sip cocktails from a candlelit table pressed up against a wall of windows. Live entertainment is featured almost every night of the week, and all drinks and appetizers are half off on Wednesdays.
<b>Verve Coffee at 816 41st Ave.</b>
Now, CHP is not suggesting you get up extra-early to come to the East Side for your morning cup o’ joe. But next time you need a caffeinated pick-me-up, try Verve Coffee, another gem to be found on 41st Avenue. This funky café roasts its own beans, making its coffee fresher than anything you’d find at Starbucks. The beans are roasted right next door, letting the smell of toasting coffee beans tantalize your nostrils before you even step foot inside the store. For the coffee aficionado, Verve is a must-try.