With its perennial boardwalk and beaches, Santa Cruz has always offered summertime thrills but few surprises. Not anymore. A recent wave of enterprising creatives is helping the beachside town transcend its slow-moving rep. Here are ten reasons why you’re overdue for a trip down the coast. 

Outsite

It’s laptops and leisure at this new co-work and lodging property one block from the waves of the Monterey Bay. Whether you stay a night or a month, you’ll find like-minded digital nomads and entrepreneurs enjoying a fully equipped office, living space, and activities such as yoga, surfing, and coding classes. Don’t miss their weekend networking events that trade conference rooms for campsites along the Big Sur coast. // Outsite, outsite.co.

(photography by Garrick Ramirez unless noted otherwise) 

Berdel’s

Outfit yourself like a local at this modish surf shop stocked with contemporary men's and women's apparel. No big name brands here. Instead, find local independent labels like Thieves, Uroko, and Ventana that will take you from beach to brewery. // Berdel’s, 1233 Pacific Ave., berdels.com.

Photo by Shindig Photography

Home/Work

Peel away from tourist-packed Pacific Avenue and seek out this colorful, modern boutique tucked on a downtown side street. Owner Sonia McMoran draws upon her background as tech and design journalist to assemble a covetable collection of home and office décor. Shop a playful mix of vintage finds and contemporary, handcrafted goods from designers like Honey & Bloom, Good Company, and Marlie & Alfie. // Home/Work, 765 Cedar St. Ste. 103, shophomework.com.

Photo courtesy of Sojourn Box

Sojourn Box

Sojourn Box is like a dream care package from your stylish best friend abroad. Joanna Misunas, a Santa Cruz native, encapsulates the region’s best artisanal products in a smartly-designed box that arrives at your doorstep. Inside, discover tasty edibles like Mutari’s Venezuelan Hot Chocolate, body care products from Urb Apothecary, local music downloads and a hip pocket guide to the area. There’s also a Monterey box and a Silicon Valley and a San Francisco edition to follow. // Sojourn Box, sojournbox.com.

Photo courtesy of Brew Cruz

Brew Cruz

We can’t think of a better way to sample Santa Cruz’s thriving (and hugely underrated) craft beer scene than with Brew Cruz. Former San Franciscan Annie Pautsch shuttles hopheads to breweries and taprooms along the coast in a tricked out 1989 school bus (that she picked up in SF’s Tenderloin). The Brew Cruz site will soon host The Santa Cruz Beer Trail, an interactive map and passport program to help customize your ultimate brewery crawl. // Brew Cruz, scbrewcruz.com.

New Bohemia Brewing Company

Bitter about the hegemony of IPAs? Swing by this fetching new Pleasure Point brewery for delicious old world lagers and hefeweizens. Brewmaster Dan Satterthwaite honed his craft at a century-old, family-owned brewery in Bavaria before working at Bay Area shops like Trumer Pils. The redwood-sheathed taproom has a small bites menu that offers a great sampling of local food purveyors such as Companion Bakeshop and Friend in Cheeses Jam Company. // New Bohemia Brewing Company, 1030 41st Ave., nubobrew.com.

Mutari

This exceptional chocolate producer is the only one taking hot chocolate from bean to cup. Sample single origin chocolates — ethically sourced and rigorously made from scratch — via richly fragrant cups of hot and European style sipping chocolates. They’ve got you covered on warm days too. Their Frozen Hot Chocolate is blended with ice to yield a luscious, milkshake-like treat. // Mutari, 1001 Center St., mutarichocolate.com.

Soif Wine Bar & Merchants

Soif has been Santa Cruz’s urbane wine destination for some time, but a major expansion and remodel begs a second look. A reconfigured wine shop stocks local finds like Birichino’s Malvasia Bianca while an expanded kitchen is able to crank out a wider array of refined small plates. Nab a seat at the new bar where an informed staff will pour tastes of less familiar wines like a where-have-you-been-all-my-life Hungarian Tokaji. // Soif, 105 Walnut Ave., soifwine.com.

The Kitchen at Discretion

It's not just the award-winning, organic ales that should lure you to Discretion Brewing. Chef Santos Majano works magic from a 200 square foot kitchen, churning out beautiful, composed plates of farm-driven dishes that are spoiling local beer drinkers. Majano has worked in kitchens like Healdsburg’s former two-Michelin-starred Cyrus and it shows. For his Chicken & Waffles, he confits chicken wings and lays them over buttermilk waffles, studded with bacon and pecans, and drizzled with spiced honey. // The Kitchen at Discretion, 2703 41st Ave. Ste. A, Soquel, discretionbrewing.com.

Food Lounge

Clued-in diners gather in a garden patio strung with lights at this convivial pop-up venue. A weekly lineup of portable restaurants includes baos from Mortal Dumpling, destination-themed dishes from Lionfish Supperclub, and farm-to-table BBQ from Ty’s Eatery. The bar, which pours only Santa Cruz wines and draft beers, is one of the few places you’ll find Tanuki, a killer new bottle-conditioned cider made with apples from Fogline Farms. // Food Lounge, 1001 Center St., scfoodlounge.com.