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westside santa cruz

There is no question that Santa Cruz is one of the most naturally beautiful cities on the California coast, but the Westside neighborhood stands out as one of the most desirable areas in the county for a reason. With picturesque beaches behind every cliffside and beautiful homes adorning every block, the Westside is truly an ideal place to call home. Whether you’re seeking the sweeping views of the upper Westside or the walkable beaches of the lower Westside, it’s a part of town that is unrivaled in physical beauty.

Aside from Mission St. and the other main arteries to Highway One and Highway 17, the Westside is a quiet neighborhood with relatively little traffic outside of the local residents. It’s close enough to stores and restaurants that you can get most things you need without having to go downtown or across town—it even has its own farmers market. Great sunsets and evening walks are a regular part of life on the Westside, as are the numerous bikers and joggers that frequent the beachside path along West Cliff Drive.

 

 

WESTSIDE ATTRACTIONS

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UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden

The UCSC Arboretum has 135 acres on the edge of the university which are home to a wide variety of interesting plants, both native and non-native. The gardens are separated into geographical areas denoting the native region of the plants, including California natives, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. During the fall and spring, they host a plant sale, which is very popular with plant lovers.

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Swift Street Courtyard

Home to wineries, breweries, and eateries, the Swift St. Courtyard is definitely a highlight of the Westside. Kelly’s French Bakery is great for breakfast, especially if you want to eat outside. The West End Tap Room and the Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery are both in the courtyard and offer food and drink, as does the Humble Sea Brewing Co. around the corner. There are several wineries, both in the courtyard itself and the surrounding area. Also be sure to shop local at these unique stores: Cameron Marks, Sawyer Land + Surf Supply, and Pepper Place Design.

westside farmer’s market

The Westside Farmers’ Market takes place every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm, year round at the corner of Mission Street Extension and Western Drive. Shop 100% certified organic produce, artisan foods, wine, body products, tinctures, sustainable seafood, pasture raised meats, flowers and eggs along with cook-to-order cuisine, live local music and a full espresso bar.

WESTSIDE BEACHES

Lighthouse Field State Beach

Lighthouse field state beach

One of the top spots to stop for a view of the water when cruising along the West Cliff pedestrian path, Lighthouse Field is also home to the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Perched just above the famous local surf spot, Steamer Lane, the small museum recalls the history of surfing in the area, including photos and surfboards. From the Lighthouse, it’s an easy walk or bike ride to the Santa Cruz Wharf in one direction, or to Natural Bridges beach in the other.

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natural bridges state beach

A favorite beach among Westside locals, Natural Bridges offers great views of the eroding rock structures for which it is named, both in the parking lookout about the beach, or if you want to put your feet in the sand and get an up close look. From October through January, Natural Bridges is home to migrating monarch butterflies that cluster among the eucalyptus trees in tremendous numbers; an experience which should not be missed by children or adults.

 

 

WESTSIDE RECREATION

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Wilder Ranch State park

Wilder Ranch is an expansive State Park that spans over 7,000 Acres. Connected to the Westside of Santa Cruz by an easily accessible paved bike path (or by vehicle on Highway 1) it is home to a historic 1800’s dairy farm and over 35 miles of trail which can be explored via foot, mountain bike or horseback. Some of the trails, which border the Pacific Ocean, provide jaw-dropping views of the bluffs while others cross under Highway 1 and then meander up through the foothills.

Westside Santa Cruz Pump Track

Westside pump track

Biking, whether road or mountain, is a big deal in Santa Cruz. We are lucky enough to have numerous, well-maintained pump tracks throughout the county. The Westside pump track is open daily year round as long as weather permits. Pump tracks offer young riders a fun challenge, beginner riders good practice ground, and experienced riders a place to enjoy jumps. To view all pump tracks in Santa Cruz County go here.

Steamer Lane Santa Cruz

steamer lane

With over 29 miles of coastline, Santa Cruz County boasts numerous popular surf spots but the most famous has to be Steamer Lane on the Westside. Nicknamed “the Lane”, Steamer Lane is only for experienced surfers because when the swell is up it is the most dangerous place to surf in Santa Cruz. If you prefer to spectate, the West Cliff Drive pedestrian path overlooks this iconic surf spot and is also where you can also find the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Fun fact - 3 Hawaiian princes introduced surfing to the mainland (Santa Cruz to be exact!) over 130 years ago

Sergeant Derby Park Santa Cruz

sergeant derby park

Offering the only skatepark on the Westside, Sergeant Derby Park has something for the whole family. The park includes a large grass lawn, playground, tennis courts, 4- hole disc golf course, and a skateboard bowl which was one of the first public skateboard parks in the world!

WESTSIDE SCHOOLS

Public:

Westlake Elementary School K-5th grade

Bay View Elementary K-5th grade

Mission Hill Middle School 6th-8th grade

Santa Cruz High School 9th-12th grade

Natural Bridges High School/Career Training Center 10th-12th grade

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)

To view other schools in Santa Cruz County go here. 

 
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University of California Santa Cruz