5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to Santa Cruz

5Things_Santa Cruz

In the series “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Christa Martin of fashion and beauty blog The Penny Rose offers us a glimpse into the best of Santa Cruz, California.

5 Things: Santa Cruz
Christa Martin of The Penny Rose

Santa Cruz is one of a kind. A coastal paradise 80 miles south of San Francisco, it has small town charm, big city style, epic redwood forests, and sweeping ocean vistas. It’s also a surfing mecca, and a haven for artists and tech workers. And somewhere in between it all is a place I call home.

I grew up in Santa Cruz, left for college, and, like so many others, I inevitably returned. There’s something about this town—you just can’t leave it alone.




Bantam, 1010 Fair Avenue, (831) 420-0101

The motto here is, “don’t panic, it’s organic,” which really resonates with Santa Cruz residents — this is a health-minded town. It’s here at Bantam that you can indulge in pizza and not feel guilty about it. My favorite is the housemade sausage, tomato, cream, and calabrians pie for $18.





Stripe, 107 Walnut Avenue, (831) 421-9252
Cameron Marks, 402 Ingalls Street, (831) 458-3080

Two of my favorite boutiques in Santa Cruz are Stripe and Cameron Marks. Owned by superb local businesswomen, these beautiful stores are remarkably curated.

Stripe, located in downtown Santa Cruz, offers a brilliant array of items: vintage furniture, household goodies, leather bags made by local artisans, and a stellar selection of timeless, classic clothing. Around the corner is Stripe Men, a store for all the stylish gents in town. Cameron Marks, located on the West Side, offers a wonderful selection of striking, fashion-forward clothing and accessories. (A second store is dedicated to housewares, while a third brick and mortar location houses a dazzling jewelry and ceramics collection.)



The Adobe on Green Street Bed and Breakfast, 103 Green Street, (831) 469-9866

While there are scores of lodging options in Santa Cruz, this place is a gem. I should know: I stayed here on my wedding night. It’s just a few minutes walking distance from downtown, and is nestled in a quiet, hidden corner of a residential neighborhood.



Pleasure Point, East Side

Sure, we have the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, but be forewarned, that’s where all the tourists go. If you want to stick to the local beat, head to a different part of town—the East Side. Perks include a walking path; endless beaches; epic surfing destinations; sushi, pizza, and The Penny Ice Creamery; and even a hipster coffee shop, Verve.



On your way to the beach, pick up a handmade leather tote by Corral Made at Stripe. A roomy bag made by local artisan Jose Hernandez will seamlessly take you from day to night. While you’re at it, toss in a S’well water bottle, Maguba clogs, a bottle of Herbivore Botanicals Sea Mist Hair Spray (to extend that beachy hair look), and a Lee Coren scarf for when it gets chilly in the evening.

Thank you so much, Christa! When I was in college, many of my friends were from Santa Cruz and it was never lost on me how much they loved their hometown; it sounded like the perfect place to grow up—and to visit. 

Photos by Tommy Parker. Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her tremendous help with this series. 

P.S. Please add any of your own suggestions for Santa Cruz in the comments! Check here for all entries in the 5 Things series.

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