Westside Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is one of the most sought after cities in California. With gorgeous mountains, pristine beaches, and nearly year-round sunshine, not many cities can match its natural beauty. This is especially true for the Westside neighborhood. From bustling urban shopping centers to quiet beaches tucked away beyond the bluffs, Westside has all of the small city amenities without losing its small-town appeal. There are plenty of sidewalks for biking, trails for hiking, parks (and beaches) for pets, and friendly community hubs to be enjoyed.

 Attractions

 

 
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Seymour Marine Discovery Center

You can learn all about marine life at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. It has some fun marine science exhibits geared toward children, but its major attraction is the aquarium, which features an open-top container in which you can see and touch invertebrates like sea stars, sea urchins, hermit crabs, and sea anemones. There’s also a shark tank which gives visitors a chance to touch a swell shark (don’t worry, it’s friendly!). Rockfish, eels, decorator crabs, and jellyfish can also be seen, and there are outdoor gardens that display various skeletons and sculptures of marine life, including an 87-foot long blue whale skeleton. (This is one of the only four blue whale exhibits in North America.) The Discovery Center also sits on a gorgeous landscape of coastal bluff communities which make for a fantastic hike.


Swift Street Courtyard

Enjoy a variety of independent shops, bakeries, cafes, and more at Swift Street Courtyard. This bustling social and commercial hotspot is a favorite among locals, and it’s bound to become a favorite of yours too. Once a Brussels sprouts packing factory, Swift Street Courtyard now sports umbrella-shaded outdoor tables, a beer garden, countless pastry and lunch shops, a yoga studio, and much more. If you’re looking for breweries, you’re in the right place. Swift Street Courtyard is home to The West End Tap Room and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, both of which offer great beers and food. There are also plenty of wineries and shops nearby, so it has something for everyone.

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 beaches

 

 
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Natural Bridges State Beach

A few decades ago, this iconic beach was known for its three natural bridges that jutted out from the shore. Over the years, storms and erosion have caused them to collapse, leaving only one rocky arch. It has since become a landmark in Westside, and people come from far and wide to enjoy this 65-acre state park. So do butterflies – Natural Bridges hosts one of the largest monarch butterfly migrations each fall, which pulls a pretty big crowd and makes for an unforgettable experience.


Mitchell’s Cove

This beautiful beach is a dog lover's paradise. Located below the bluff between Woodrow and Almar Avenue, Mitchell’s Cove is a dog-friendly beach with a long stretch of sand and an iconic stone obelisk at its base. The cliff that surrounds it makes for an excellent natural border between your furry friends and the parking lot up above, meaning you can both focus on having fun. During certain times, you can even let your dog enjoy the beach without a leash.

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Lighthouse Field State Beach

This state park is a lot more than just a beach! The central park is filled with meandering trails that are perfect for scenic walks and bike rides. There are even spaces for walking and playing with your dogs (including a dog-friendly section of the beach, known as “Its Beach”). Lighthouse Field is also home to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, which sits in the Mark Abbot Memorial Lighthouse which overlooks the famous Steamer Lane surf spot.


 recreation

 

 
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Wilder Ranch

This 1800s dairy ranch and its 7,000 acres are bound to please anyone who loves history or the outdoors. You can tour a Victorian-era home, a Gothic revival farmhouse, and even a water-powered machine shop. If you want to bike, hike, or sightsee, this state park is perfect. With a whopping 35 miles of trails, Wilder Ranch will take you from breathtaking views of the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the foothills by Highway One. It’s an unmatched natural getaway in Westside.


Farmers Market

This weekly farmer’s market regularly tops the Santa Cruz Metro’s “People Poll.” If you’ve been meaning to shop organic, this is a great way to do it – all of the produce are 100% certified organic, and there are plenty of artisanal foods, wines, sustainably caught seafood, beauty products, and pasture raised meats available. There’s also live music year-round, so you can support local artists or even sign up to play a show of your own. With an abundance of free parking and an espresso bar for early risers, the Westside Farmer’s Market will give you something to look forward to each week.

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 schools

 

 

Public:

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University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) University

Private:

Holy Cross School Preschool-8th grade

Gateway School K-8th grade

Santa Cruz Waldorf School Preschool-8th grade

Pacific Collegiate School 7th-12th grade (Charter School)

 map