There is a lot to do in Santa Cruz, especially during the weekend, but it can be hard to find some of the best locales if you don’t know where to look. We’ve put a short list together of some of the best attractions in our city by the sea.

8. Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

Set up right along Front Street the Museum of Art and History(MAH) is full of dynamic exhibits about the history of Santa Cruz, Marine Life of Monterey Bay, as well as local Santa Cruz County citizens that tell their stories through art and performance. Every first friday of the month the Museum hosts live music, a no host bar, and various art activities during extended hours.

7. The Nickelodeon

As one of the four downtown movie theaters in Santa Cruz, the Nickelodeon (Nick) offers movies you don’t see at Regal, Cinemark and Century movie theater chains. Films like Enough Now — the Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini dramedy about a single woman who is interested in her new friend’s ex-husband — or Begin Again — the musical comedy starring Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley that follows a disgraced music producer — are just a few of the independent films featured at the Nick. Located one door down from Jack’s Hamburgers, the Nick can be a great spot for dinner and a movie.

6. Samba Rock Acai Cafe

Just across the street from the city’s courthouse stands a little piece of Brazil that can make a sunny day even more enjoyable. This small cafe brings variety and delicious taste to the popular acai bowl.

Photo by Camille Carrillo.
Photo by Camille Carrillo.

5. Pacific Avenue

It’s no secret getaway, but downtown Santa Cruz is one of the central spots to spend some quality time while paying a visit to the university. The Museum of Art and History, restaurants to fix any craving and all kinds of little shops all make for a wonderful stroll down the pavement. The entertainment flows onto the streets with musicians, painters and other artists setting up displays and performances right on the sidewalk.

4. Seabright Beach

Santa Cruz is famous for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the beach that it parallels, but sometimes it can get claustrophobic. Just down the road, between the boardwalk and the harbor, is Seabright Beach. This less-crowded seaside locale is the best place to relax, enjoy the ocean breeze and indulge in a toasty bonfire.

3. West Cliff Drive

This coastal stretch of land is perfect for a picnic, beach day, or just a leisurely walk by the sea. It runs through Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, the Municipal Wharf and so many other stops that give a strong taste of what Santa Cruz is all about.

2. Frederick Street Park

Located right alongside the east side harbor, Frederick Street Park is a great spot for volleyball, a picnic, soccer or relaxation while watching the boats go out to sea.

1. Seymour Marine Discovery Center

The Seymour Center is a fantastic way to learn more about the marine life of the Monterey Bay. It includes interactive exhibits and pools with some sea creatures at arm’s length away. It also has a gorgeous hike and view just north of the the front entrance that rivals that of Half Moon Bay.


Know any cool places incoming Slugs should visit? Add it in the comment section below!