Local Buzz: The 10 Best Coffee Shops in Santa Cruz

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Santa Cruz may have a reputation as a sleepy beach town, but when the
day gets started, coffee is the first priority of the day for most of us. There
are many coffee shops and cafes tucked in just about every corner of town, and there are even multiple drive-through options for your morning Cup of Joe.  We definitely love our coffee and local preferences tend toward small batch, fair trade, and organic options; as well as the occasional breakfast sandwich, snack or bagel to go along with it. With those criteria in mind, here is a list of the 10 best coffee shops you’ll find in Santa Cruz.

Verve Coffee Roasters - With locations from the Westside to 41st Ave.,
Verve has your caffeinated beverage needs covered in most parts of Santa Cruz. The downtown location is the perfect spot on Pacific Ave. to grab a cup of coffee, do some people watching, stroll through downtown, or set up shop with a laptop to get some work done. You can also visit their roasting facility in the Seabright neighborhood, located in what used to be a local cannery.

Firefly Coffee House - Firefly is a funky little coffee shack on Front St. that
has outdoor seating on the patio and some limited seating inside the cozy
cafe. They have several delicious standard brews, as well as specialty
drinks such as the Frosted Firefly and London Fog. If you’re looking for a
place to have a great cup of coffee and a delicious bagel, this is a place
you’ll want to try.

Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company - Opened in 1978, Santa Cruz
Coffee Roasting is a longtime favorite of locals. Situated in the heart of
downtown, the spacious cafe has a variety of organic, fair trade coffees.
(There is another location in the Rancho Del Mar shopping center in
Aptos.) The downtown cafe has some outside seating and plenty of room inside to get work or studying done while enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Fins Coffee - Fins is a hip, somewhat surf themed coffee shop on Ocean
St., which means it’s an easy spot to stop in if you’re going in or out of
town. They have many choices when it comes to beverages, caffeinated or otherwise, and have a nice selection of pastries and desserts. While coffee lovers enjoy Fins, they also have some of the best chai in town.

Lulu Carpenter’s - Another great downtown cafe, Lulu Carpenter’s is more
than just a classic coffee house. They serve breakfast and brunch and
have foods that are easy to take on the go like breakfast sandwiches,
croissants, and burritos. Both the coffee selection and the food are very
good, all in an atmosphere that is unlike any other coffee shop in town.
Lulu Carpenter’s is in an old brick building at the end of Pacific Avenue and has the distinction of being one of the first downtown businesses to reopen following the damages of the 1989 earthquake. Coffee Cat, which is in nearby Scotts Valley is under the same ownership of Lulu Carpenter’s, which also operates a small drive-through location in the Whole Foods parking lot in Midtown Santa Cruz.

The Abbey - The Abbey definitely has good coffee, but it’s also one of the
most comfortable places to relax and enjoy a good cup, either with friends or while getting some work done. It has an open, spacious interior and plenty of power outlets, making it a welcoming cafe for the numerous
workers and students on their computers. The coffee and selection of other beverages are very good and the atmosphere makes for a place you want to spend some time in. They do not have a large food menu, but some snacks and pastries are served.

Java Junction - Java Junction has three locations in Santa Cruz: one in the
Seabright neighborhood, one by the Crow’s Nest restaurant, and one on
River St. near the freeways on the edge of town. The Seabright location is
the most popular of the three and is next to the Seabright Brewery. Java Junction serves up fantastic small batch coffee that’s made daily, as well as a number of other drinks, smoothies, bagels, pastries, and sandwiches.

Peoples Coffee - Peoples Coffee is in Live Oak is a friendly neighborhood
cafe with coffee that everyone raves about. They don’t have an expansive
food menu, but they do carry snacks like bagels and pastries in addition to their tasty selections of coffee and tea. It’s not always an easy parking lot in which to find a spot since it shares the area with other businesses, but the coffee is well worth it. Their mochas and lattes are also delicious.

Coffeetopia - Coffeetopia has three locations in Santa Cruz County,
including one on the Westside of town, which is rare on this list (The Abbey being the other one on the Westside). All locations serve a variety of coffees, teas, espressos, lattes, mochas, as well as pastries, bagels, and
sandwiches. This is definitely one of the better places in town to go if you’re looking for iced coffee. Local artwork frequently adorns the walls of
Coffeetopia, adding to its distinct local charm.

Cafe Delmarette - Within just a short walk from Santa Cruz Coffee
Roasting, Cafe Delmarette is a quaint cafe next to the Del Mar movie
theater downtown. There is a small amount of seating, both inside and out, and it has a European feel to it—something that also shines through in their coffee and food selections. The coffee is great and it’s an easy place to pop into for a quick cup if you’re downtown or want to enjoy a morning breakfast on the patio.

Electric Bike Share Program Comes To Santa Cruz

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The City of Santa Cruz recently struck a partnership with electric bike
maker, JUMP bikes, to provide affordable, electric-assist bike rentals
throughout the city. After a successful trial run in San Francisco, the Uber-
owned company brought the service to Santa Cruz, where it seems to be
quite popular already.


The bright red bikes have a built-in lock and a battery that lasts roughly 40 miles, as well as a basket, cup holder, and adjustable seats. No helmet is provided so you’ll need to bring your own if you plan to ride safely on one of the 250 bikes currently in operation at 27 stations around town. The cost is $1 for the first 15 minutes, and 7 cents for each additional minute.
Alternatively, you can buy a monthly pass for $30 that allows you up to one hour of riding time daily with standard rates applying thereafter.


One of the key benefits of the new program is that the bikes do not have to be returned to where they were initially picked up. You can rent a bike in Midtown and ride it to the Westside and drop it off at a station in that part of town. While they can be ridden outside of the city limits, there is a hefty fee that goes along with doing so.  You can also put a bike on hold if you intend to use it later so that it’s reserved and cannot be rented by other users.


The JUMP bikes are not fully electric, but they do provide a substantial
boost in power, which can be helpful when riding up some of the steeper
hills in town. If you just want to get where you’re going more quickly, the
JUMP bikes can reach speeds of close to 20 miles per hour.


To rent a JUMP bike, you must be at least 18 years old and download the
app
, which allows you to pay with your credit card. The bikes can be
returned to any bike share station and they can also be locked up in a
standard bike rack. The bikes do not have to be returned to a station, but
there is a $1 charge if they are not. Each bike is equipped with a GPS
tracker that maps your ride and the app notifies you of the nearest station
when you’re done using it.

Part of the appeal of the electric bikes is that they provide an alternative to not just driving, but taking your own bike and leaving it unattended. With bike theft being such a major problem in Santa Cruz, renting a bike is a pleasant alternative for many people.


The JUMP bikes present quite a challenge for would-be bike thieves.
There are no removable parts, they can’t be operated without paying, and
they have a self-contained locking mechanism. Another factor is that they
weigh close to 70 pounds so trying to move one of them while it’s not in
operation would be difficult.


While the bike share program is just getting started in Santa Cruz, the early feedback appears to be mostly positive. It’s hard to miss the bright red bikes on the road and they’re popping up more and more frequently. With summer not far off, there will no doubt be plenty of people eager to try out the new bikes. The program was successful enough in San Francisco that there’s already plans to expand from 250 bikes to 500; something that could potentially happen in Santa Cruz if there’s enough demand.

Santa Cruz Biking Resources
Local Bike Resources - The website for the Santa Cruz County Regional
Transportation Commission has a wealth of information about local bike
services and resources for riders, including maps of bike lockers and other bike oriented programs in the city.


Bike Santa Cruz County - A local bicycle advocacy group, Bike Santa Cruz
County works to make the community more bike friendly and support
initiatives that make the roads safer for bicyclists.

Public & Private Schools In Santa Cruz

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Whether you’re looking for a school that offers a quality public education, a top notch private school, or a faith based educational option, Santa Cruz has plenty to choose from. Many of the schools in the area perform well in statewide rankings and Pacific Collegiate School, a local charter high school, consistently ranks among the top high schools in California.

In the directory below you’ll find a comprehensive listing of schools in the Santa Cruz area, from elementary schools to colleges. The areas covered in the directory extend beyond just the city of Santa Cruz and include Live Oak, Capitola, Soquel, Aptos, Scotts Valley, Felton, and the San Lorenzo Valley.

Each listing is categorized by location, has a link to the official school website, and includes information about the grades served. If a school is private, religiously affiliated, or a charter school, it is noted in parentheses.

 

Directory of Santa Cruz Area Schools

Elementary Schools-

Santa Cruz

Soquel

Scotts Valley

Aptos

Felton

Boulder Creek

Boulder Creek Elementary - K-5th grade


Middle Schools

Capitola

Santa Cruz

Aptos

Aptos Junior High School - 7th-8th grade

Scotts Valley

Felton

 

High Schools

Santa Cruz

Soquel

Aptos

Scotts Valley

Felton

Ben Lomond

Boulder Creek

 

Colleges

Santa Cruz

Aptos

 

Resources For Santa Cruz Schools

California School Ratings - A website that provides school rankings for California. You can search by city, name, region, or county and each school receives a numbered grade based on how it performs against others that are similar.

California School Search - A resource from the California Department of Education that lets you search for schools by name or city to find helpful information such as demographic reports and data about academic performance.

Your Guide To Santa Cruz Area Farmers Markets

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Thanks to the strong agriculutural and farming influence of the Central Coast, the farmers markets in Santa Cruz offer some of the best meat and produce you’ll find in the U.S..

Salinas is such an agricultural force that it’s referred to as “America’s Salad Bowl.” Nearby Watsonville is one of a handful of cities in America that have a claim to being the “strawberry capital of the world,” along with apples, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes and other crops produced there.

Other local claims to vegetable supremacy are less debatable. Gilroy is the garlic capital of the world, just as Castroville is the artichoke capital of the world. Both cities have annual multi-day festivals celebrating their respective crops; the Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival and the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

With proximity to places like these, it’s little wonder that Santa Cruz is home to so many great farmers markets. This guide will detail the local options, as well as explain a little about what you can expect at each one.

Along with farmers markets, Santa Cruz has several CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs), which you can find more information about at the bottom of this page.

Downtown

The downtown Santa Cruz farmers market is both the largest and the longest running in the area. It’s also the one that most closely matches what you might expect of a farmers market in downtown: local vendors, live music, hot food, tasty pastries, flowers, citrus, berries, meat, bread, vegetables, and even a bike valet. (Parking can be scarce downtown during the hours of the farmers market so finding an alternative to driving can be helpful, if it’s an option.)

There’s also plenty to do in the area around the downtown market. Lupolo and 515 Kitchen and Cocktails, two local bars with a relaxed atmosphere, are just a crosswalk away, as is Hula’s, the Hawaiian themed bar & restaurant. The shops and restaurants of Pacific Avenue are easily accessible as well.

Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers Market

  • Cedar St. & Lincoln St., downtown Santa Cruz

  • Wednesdays

  • 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. (April through October)

  • 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (November through March)

Eastside (Live Oak)

The Live Oak (or Eastside) farmers market offers a similar experience to the downtown market, though it is smaller. It also has local vendors, live music, hot food, flowers, and beverages. Food trucks and coffee are two things that stand out about the Live Oak market and it’s a great place to grab breakfast since it’s on Sunday mornings.

Eastside/Live Oak Farmers Market

  • 21511 East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz

  • Sundays

  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Westside

The Westside market is a community favorite and, unlike some of the others mentioned here, there is plenty of parking. It combines the cozy Sunday morning feel of the Live Oak market with the classic laid back feel of Westside Santa Cruz.

Westside Santa Cruz Farmers Market

  • 2801 Mission St., Mission St. Extension & Western Dr., Santa Cruz

  • Saturdays

  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Felton

Felton’s farmers market has been a local fixture for over 30 years and is one of the most family friendly. There’s plenty of activities for kids along with the standard farmers market fare.

Felton Farmers Market

  • St. John’s Church, 120 Russell Ave., Felton

  • Tuesdays (May through October)

  • 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Scotts Valley

Another family friendly option, the Scotts Valley market features regular musical guests, activities for kids, and several pop-up food vendors. Of course, you can also find produce, meat, dairy, flowers, nuts, and several artisans offering their uniquely local products. If you like strawberries and blueberries, this is one you won’t want to miss!

Scotts Valley Farmers Market

  • Community Center, 360 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley

  • Saturdays (May through November)

  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Aptos

The Aptos market is held at Cabrillo College on Saturday mornings and is one of the better ones you’ll find outside the City of Santa Cruz. Seafood, poultry, and grass fed meat are the highlights of the Aptos market, but you’ll find plenty of fruits and vegetables too. A quick peek at the list of vendors for the Aptos Farmers Market provides a good overview of what they have available.

Aptos Farmers Market

  • Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Dr., Aptos

  • Saturdays

  • 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Watsonville

Watsonville is an area known for its produce and it’s on full display at the local market. It’s not a large farmers market, but the produce and experience are second-to-none, including the music and great street food they have available.

Watsonville Farmers Market

  • City Plaza, Peck St. & Main St., downtown Watsonville

  • Fridays

  • 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden

While not a formal market in the sense of the others mentioned here, the UCSC Farm & Garden Cart does offer a pared down version of the same thing. You won’t find the Corralitos Market & Sausage Company here, but you can still buy flowers, fruits, and veggies that are grown locally on the campus farm.

UC Santa Cruz Farm & Market Garden Cart

  • Base of campus, Bay St. and High St., UC Santa Cruz

  • Fridays (June to October)

  • 12 p.m. to 6 p.m

Seascape Village Certified Farmers Market

It may be one of the smaller and lesser known in the area, but the Seacliff Village market still has plenty to offer. It features artists, farmers, artisans and musicians from around the area and, along with the market at Cabrillo College, gives Aptos two great options to choose from.

Seascape Village Farmers Market

  • 16 Seascape Village, in front of Seascape Foods, Aptos

  • Sundays

  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (mid-May through September)

Local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture)

A CSA is a seasonal membership program in which you buy a share to support a local farm. In return, you receive a portion of the crops produced—in essence, you’re buying a variety of fresh produce from local farms that is delivered on a weekly or biweekly basis. You can learn more about Community Supported Agriculture by clicking here.

The following list includes some of the main CSAs in and around Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz Area CSAs

 

10 Online Resources For Anyone Moving To Santa Cruz

There is no doubt that Santa Cruz is a wonderful place to live. We have
over 250 days of sunshine annually, world class surf spots, a top university, quality health care options, and perhaps most importantly, a city that reflects the shared values of its community. It’s also hard to argue with being able to go hiking and surfing in the same afternoon without leaving town.


There’s a lot to love about our sunny slice of paradise, but it’s not always
an easy city to get to know, especially if you’re new to town or planning to
move here. This blog post aims to peel back some of the mystery of
moving to Santa Cruz by providing 10 helpful resources for getting to know
the area.

1. Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce - The website for the Santa Cruz
Chamber of Commerce has a host of helpful links for anyone moving
to the area. There’s a directory of local businesses, information about
employment statistics and demographics, and a listing of the major
annual events in Santa Cruz.

2. Santa Cruz City Schools - The official website for the Santa Cruz City
Schools provides resources about local elementary, secondary,
charter, and adult schools in the area. You can also find a map of
school attendance zones, as well as resources for parents and
students. (See below for information about colleges.)

Cabrillo College - The local community college, Cabrillo, is located
in Aptos, just a few miles south of Santa Cruz. Cabrillo College has
a diverse student body that draws from several cities in the area
and includes students of all ages. Cabrillo College offers more than
70 programs (either associate degree or certificate) and sends more
transfer students to UC Santa Cruz than any other community
college.

University of California, Santa Cruz - UC Santa Cruz regularly gets
national recognition on top 10 lists for universities, not only for its
natural beauty (it’s next to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park), but
also for the quality of its academic programs, as well as its
commitment to sustainability. Situated on the upper Westside, the
“City on a Hill” offers some of the best sweeping views of Santa
Cruz that you’ll find anywhere in town.

3. Santa Cruz Life - Perhaps the best resource for things to do in Santa
Cruz, this website covers everything from the top local restaurants
and breweries to shopping guides and the best family activities in
town. There’s also a weekly events post that is one of the most
thorough you’ll find in Santa Cruz. It’s definitely a must-read for
anyone visiting or moving to Santa Cruz—or if you’re a local looking
for something to do.

4. Santa Cruz Tech Beat - Due to its proximity to Silicon Valley (and
probably the desirability of living here), Santa Cruz has started to
develop its own local tech scene. Major players in the tech world are
starting to take note: Looker, the data analytics company, has its
headquarters in town and Amazon has recently opened an office in
Santa Cruz as well. Take a peek into NextSpace or Cruzio—our
remote working spaces—and you’ll see plenty of freelancers,
entrepreneurs, and digital nomads typing away between sips of
coffee.
Whether you’re looking for the latest local tech news or searching for
a tech-related job in the area, Santa Cruz Tech Beat is the place to
go.

5. Santa Cruz Waves - Santa Cruz Waves provides local news, photos,
videos, and stories about surf life and beach culture. They’re a brand
you’ll see all over town and have built a healthy following on the
strength of their photos, videos, and social media presence. Their surf reports for Santa Cruz are pulled from Surfline, which you can
visit directly by clicking here.

6. Santa Cruz Crime Map - The City of Santa Cruz’s crime maps page
shows an interactive crime map of the city, as well as a downloadable
app that’s available through the iTunes store if you’d like to easily
access the information on a mobile device.

7. GoodTimes Website - SantaCruz.com is the website for the
GoodTimes, a free alternative weekly publication distributed
throughout Santa Cruz County. The articles feature local people and
stories of interest, with the occasional sprinkling of news and Santa
Cruz history.


The GoodTimes is best known for its club grid, which gives a quick
and thorough look at when and where musical acts will be performing
locally. If you prefer a physical copy of the GoodTimes, you can find it
at many eateries, coffee shops, and shopping centers around town.

8. Visit Santa Cruz - Visit Santa Cruz is a nonprofit that operates as the
official tourism and visitor organization for Santa Cruz County. As the
name of the website suggests, there’s plenty of information here
about events, attractions, and places to visit in Santa Cruz. It’s a
good resource if you’re aiming to learn more about a particular
neighborhood or area of Santa Cruz.

9. Santa Cruz Jobs - While sites like Craigslist, LinkedIn, and
Indeed.com still offer some value for those looking for a job in Santa
Cruz, this is a resource that should not be overlooked. Many
employers prefer to hire local candidates and this is often where they
find them. The website is simple to use and you can browse
openings, search by city or job industry, and even create email alerts
for specific jobs or keywords.

10. Santa Cruz Sentinel - The local newspaper of Santa Cruz, the
Sentinel mainly covers local news stories and prep sports with some
national news coverage mixed in from the wire services. Though the
local coverage isn’t as in-depth as it once was, the Sentinel still offers
a good glimpse into what’s going on around town, especially if you’re
new to the area.