Verve: Some of our favorite coffee in general, and by far the best coffee shop in Santa Cruz. There are multiple locations, most of which have outdoor seating. (@vervecoffee)

  • Bobby’s pick: Drip coffee

  • Alli’s pick: Iced almond milk latte

Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting: Established for over 40 years, they’ve been roasting their own beans long before it became trendy. A great local spot where you can enjoy a pour over and find a comfy seat to people watch. (@santacruzcoffee)

Cat & Cloud Coffee: Good coffee and a great patio for lounging (and your dog). What more do you need? (@catcloudcoffee)

  • Bobby’s pick: Cappuccino

  • Alli’s pick: Almond milk latte


Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe: Fresh and hearty, this is arguably the best breakfast in town. It’s cash only, so plan accordingly - and make sure to order a cinnamon roll. Locals swear by them. (Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe on Instagram)

  • Bobby’s pick: The Popeye (with a cinnamon roll, of course)

  • Alli’s pick: The Waffle Combo

Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria: If you love pastries, you’ll die and go to heaven at Gayle’s. You really can’t go wrong with what you order - every baked item is flakey, buttery, goodness. Grab a cup of coffee at Verve (see above), some baked goods at Gayle’s, and have breakfast on the beach. (@gaylesbakery)


Zameen On The Point: We are still dreaming about our meal at Zameen. If you love Mediterranean food, this is a MUST. Very fresh, healthy, and large portions. Make sure you get the parmesan fries. (@zameencuisine)

  • Bobby’s pick: Gyros Salad

  • Alli’s pick: Veggie Bowl

Aptos Street BBQ: This place is a local favorite - and for good reason. Their BBQ is the REAL DEAL, and if you’re lucky you’ll catch some live music! (Every day of the week for 6-8pm!) (@aptosstbbq)

  • Bobby’s pick: Smoked Tri-Tip meal

  • Alli’s pick: Smoked Chicken meal

The Penny Ice Creamery: We’re suckers for artisan made ice cream. The Penny makes all of their flavors in-house with the freshest ingredients… and it’s bomb. Their Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip almost made Alli cry! (@thepennyicecreamery)

Front and Cooper: Delicious craft cocktails, wine, and local artisanal beer… Front and Cooper has it all. Oh, and it’s really hip and Instagramable too. Win/Win. (@frontandcooper)

  • Bobby’s pick: The Twisted Old Fashion

  • Alli’s pick: The GINTONIC #8

515 Kitchen & Cocktails: Grab a seat at the upstairs bar, order some truffle fries and “The Forbidden Highlands” cocktail. A little on the pricey side - but you’ll understand why it’s the highest rated cocktail bar around! (@515santacruz)

Dream Inn: The surf vibes are strong, an outdoor pool steps from the sand, and every room has an ocean view. Oh, and you’re right on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. It doesn’t get any better! (Besides the fact that dogs aren’t allowed.) (@dreaminn_santacruz)

Hotel Paradox: This boutique hotel, renovated in 2014, will put off an urban forest vibe. The rooms are cool, cozy, and full of natural light. With fire pits, poolside dining, and rainfall shower heads (Bobby’s favorite), Hotel Paradox is a relaxing alternative to lounging on the sand. We just do both :) (@hotelparadox)

Kampgrounds of America: This isn’t just a picturesque spot to pitch your tent, the KOA in Santa Cruz rents super cute Airstreams, deluxe cabins, and more! “Glamp” in style - and steps from the beach! (@kampgroundsofamerica)

First Fridays: On the first Friday of every month, business owners open up their spaces to display local art. It is a fun, free event in which the talented artistic community can promote their art and be supported. Admission to the Museum of Art & History is free on these nights, so take advantage! (@firstfridaysantacruz)

Surf: Beginners can start at Cowell’s, but experienced surfers should head to Pleasure Point or Steamer Lane. Santa Cruz has some iconic spots! Make sure to bring a wetsuit, because the water can be chilly.

West Cliff Drive: If surfing isn’t your thing, stroll along this 3-mile walking and biking path for incredible views of the ocean (and waves). Keep your eyes peeled as you pass Lighthouse Point, you may see some whales or dolphins. You can also stop at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, which is located inside the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse.

Santa Cruz is EXTREMELY pet friendly. We brought Sally with us everywhere, and she was welcome wherever places had patios/outdoor seating! Dogs are allowed off-leash at Mitchell’s Cove Beach, and other fun spots to bring them are Aptos Dog Park and Ocean View Park!