Photo by Sal Ingram

A tourist town by nature, Santa Cruz has many attractions that draw in travellers year after year. However, there are some amazing parts of the city tourists don’t see. If you can keep an eye open and stay curious, you’ll be sure to find some wonderful events and communities in the city.

First Friday

Ever wanted to check out Santa Cruz’s local artists? The city has a wealth of fantastic artists whose work you can see for yourself for free on the first Friday evening of the month. On Pacific Avenue and surrounding downtown streets many businesses turn their storefronts into art galleries, inviting in members of the community. It’s a great place to bring friends, meet people or even showcase your own art.

Learn more about First Friday at:

Free Skool

Free Skool is everything you wanted to learn that your major doesn’t teach. Permaculture gardening, beach yoga, tabletop gaming, dance and essential oils are just a few of the topics you can learn about within the community-driven Free Skool project. It’s a free, community-driven project that allows anyone to teach something they love. It’s just another way Santa Cruz brings people together in an educational and sustainable way.

Get the calendar and learn which classes are currently offered at:

Midnight Movies

If there ever was a UCSC tradition outside of freshmen kissing their first banana slug or running naked through the first rain of the year, it would have to be midnight movies at the Del Mar. The locally owned theater offers cult classics, documentaries and famous films. Go check out Slugs in Fishnets perform alongside The Rocky Horror Picture Show — you’ll want to do the time warp again and again. Also, be sure to check out the Nickelodeon Theatre for more art-house flicks during the week and the Regal Santa Cruz 9 on Tuesdays for the $6 movie ticket special.

For movie times at the Del Mar and The Nickelodeon, head to

Photo by Blair Stenvick

Betty’s Noodle House

This pan-Asian noodle house popped up in the Metro Center about a month ago, and it’s already made an impact on Pacific. If you’re looking for a snack, try their scrumptious appetizers like savory-sweet fried sesame balls for 50 cents each or your choice of dumplings at $1.25 each. If your hunger surpasses such trivial offerings, then move onto the main course, where it’s noodles, noodles, and more noodles — the udon and green curry are some of the best, and all at around six dollars a bowl. The assortment of candy by the register tops off the perfect meal.

920 Pacific Ave



Pacific Cookie Company

If you go to Pacific Cookie Company’s location on Pacific Avenue, sure, you’ll find delicious cookies. Head to their factory off River Street though, and you’ll be able to purchase their crumbly gold at a better price.

303 Potrero St., 1203 Pacific Avenue

Farmer’s Markets

Get great local produce at Santa Cruz’s farmer’s markets — one of the best ways to support local agriculture. UCSC’s Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems also offers the Farm and Garden Market Cart at the base of UCSC’s campus with produce from the farm at UCSC.

UCSC Farm Cart

Time: 12 to 6 p.m.

Days: Tuesday and Friday

Where: At the corner of High Street and Bay Street

Downtown Market

Time: 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

Day: Wednesday

Where: At the corner of Cedar Street and Lincoln Street

More information can be found at: