Where to Find Santa Cruz’s Best Margaritas

Days are getting warmer, flip-flops are replacing rain boots, and colorful patio umbrellas are being raised all over town. Yep, it’s Margarita season here in Santa Cruz and, with Cinco de Mayo happening this week, we’re craving this zingy, refreshing drink. In Santa Cruz, you can sip the world’s most popular drink poolside, beachfront, or even from a scenic hilltop. Worried about your “tequila story?” You needn’t be. The top-shelf drinks below are all made from 100% blue agave which means they are clean and smooth enough to sip — not shoot! — straight.

El Jefe El Palomar Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

All Photos by Garrick Ramirez

El Palomar
This former historic hotel is Santa Cruz’s tequila central. Their light-flooded atrium bar is lined with an encyclopedic selection of tequilas which helps explain the boisterous atmosphere. Plus, El Palomar just launched a new drink menu that features several margaritas — from traditional to Skinny to Mango — as well as a few originals. Try their El Jefe, a frothy concoction of cucumber, jalapeno, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar with a chile-lime salt rim. Add a plate of tacos and you’re good to go!

Margarita Paradise Beach Grille Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

Paradise Beach Grille
It’s all about waterfront drinks at this Capitola Village hotspot perched directly over the Soquel River and Capitola Beach. Nab a spot on their scenic patio or in the tropical-themed dining room and enjoy a vacation-worthy beach scene. Pair a Margarita with their signature Lava Flow Prawns and the only thing you’ll miss is a postcard telling your friends “Wish you were here.”

Chaminade Patron Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

Linwood’s Bar + Grill at Chaminade Resort
The lush, peaceful setting of this luxe resort makes it feel more remote than it actually is. Yet just ten minutes from the beach, you can be high atop a hill sipping a tequila not found anywhere else in town. Chaminade teamed up with renowned tequila producer Patron to select their own Reposado tequila aged for 9 months in Hungarian Oak. Enjoy it straight or shaken in a Margarita on Chaminade’s airy outdoor patio with sweeping views of Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay.

Lilikoi Margarita Hulas Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Room
Tiki-ify your Cinco de Mayo with a Lilikoi Margarita at Hula’s Island Grill. Under the watchful eye of tiki gods and retro-cool Hawaiian decor, Hula’s bartenders add a splash of passion fruit — or Lilikoi as it’s known on the islands — adding a tropical twist to the famous drink. Don’t miss Hula’s daily happy hour when the Lilikoi Margarita, as well as all house drinks and appetizers, are available at a discount. Happy hour schedule: Sun-Mon 4-6pm; Tiki Tuesday (all day!) 2pm-close; Wed-Sat 2-6pm.

La Paloma Solaire Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

On a warm day, there’s no better accompaniment to a cool drink than a sparkling blue pool. The recently refreshed Hotel Paradox, now a part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection Hotels, serves poolside drinks on the chaise-lined patio of their sleek restaurant & bar Solaire. We love their Mezcal Mule, a smoky south-of-the-border take on the popular Moscow Mule. Or try their La Paloma, a tangy grapefruit-fueled drink that is sipped all throughout Mexico.

Venus Spirits El Ladron Photo Credit Garrick Ramirez

Venus Spirits
Did you know that Santa Cruz is home to the only tequila made in California? Well, it’s not officially “tequila” since, like Champagne and Cognac, tequila can’t technically be labeled tequila unless it’s made in a designated place of origin. Yet the wonderfully artisan Venus Spirits produces a blue agave spirit dubbed El Ladron, or The Thief, that pays homage to its Mexican brethren. Stop by their sleek Westside tasting room to sample the exceptionally smooth spirit, available both aged and unaged.

2016 #SCWildflowers Photo Contest Winner!

Task: sift through loads of beautiful Santa Cruz County wildflower photos and choose one winner…It’s not easy, but someone’s gotta do it! And that we did. Congrats to Instagram fan, @cafin, for her winning shot taken in Davenport! We just loved the north county #SCWildflowers submission and are stoked to award her with the prize of a…

The Seacliff Inn – Your Convenient Retreat

  In need of a relaxing vacation, but still want to be near all the action? Yes, please! The Best Western Seacliff Inn is the perfect harmony of retreat style amenities and the total convenience of being just moments away from phenomenal beaches, epic hikes, world-class golf, award winning wines and more. See some of the top reasons…

Redwood Retreat at Hilton Santa Cruz / Scotts Valley

We’ve shared our utter love for the Hilton Santa Cruz / Scotts Valley with you before. This castle-like gem set among the redwoods is a real looker from the outside, but the luxurious accommodations and welcoming service on the inside really take it to the next level. Here are some of our favorite guest views that give…

Pajaro Dunes Resort – As Seen on TV

If you’ve ever dreamt of living on the beach, we invite you to test out the beachfront lifestyle in a house or condominium at Pajaro Dunes Resort! The secluded, serene and unmatchable Monterey Bay views are breathtaking to visitors, and they’ve caught the attention of producers too! Both the HBO limited series, “Big Little Lies“, with Nicole…

Get on the Bay with a Scenic Yacht Charter

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has been called the Serengeti of the Sea and now is a great time to see why. Just months ago schools of anchovies were flooding the bay, luring large numbers of marine mammals. Humpback whales, dolphins, sea otters and seals were regular sights along the Santa Cruz shore. Although…

2016 Pop-Up Breakfast Series at the Santa Cruz County Farmers’ Markets

Innovative – Fresh – Delicious – Culinary – Community These are just some of the words that describe the Pop-Up Breakfast Series that will grace our Santa Cruz County Farmers’ Markets this season. Top chefs from around the county (and from some of your favorite eateries) are set to roll up their sleeves to create a multi-course…

Win a Trip to Santa Cruz!

What comes to mind on your Santa Cruz dream vacation? How about experiencing the redwoods from 150 feet in air on a canopy tour. Or maybe you’ve been dreaming of seeing those whales everyone has been talking about. Whether you’re the adventurous type or would rather be sipping some fine Santa Cruz Mountain wine, Visit Santa Cruz County…

Mission Inn – Your Perfect Westside Stay

MISSION INN Located on the Westside of Santa Cruz, Mission Inn is just a hop away from the heart of Downtown Santa Cruz, while being at the gateway of north county’s rugged coast. West Cliff Drive, home of the famed Natural Bridges State Beach, is just minutes away. Drive up Highway 1 and Wilder Ranch, Ano…

Big Basin is My Happy Place

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, making people this happy since 1902! FUN FACTS “Some of these giants are more than 50 feet around and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. At 1,000 to 2,500 years old, some may predate the Roman Empire. The park also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls,…