5 Holiday Gift Ideas from Santa Cruz

As you’re working through your holiday shopping, let us offer some local inspiration. These five independent shops offer unique gifts, many of which are made right here in Santa Cruz.

All Photos by Garrick Ramirez

All Photos by Garrick Ramirez


If you thought Santa Cruz homes were only decorated with surfboards and Sierra Club posters, think again. This vibrant, Pinterest-worthy shop is filled with remarkable home goods that are great gifts for design lovers. Browse an irresistible assortment of furnishings, table settings, home decor, and local artwork. We love the retro-rainbow assortment of Newgate Pantry Clocks and bamboo trays with sea life prints by Magpie & Jay. Beyond the holidays, this should be your first stop before all housewarming parties. Our only concern is leaving with more gifts for our own home.

Pacific Trading Co
Pacific Trading Co

Duck into this downtown boutique for smart, contemporary women’s apparel and accessories that’s got you covered from beach to cafe to schmancy evening events. You’ll shop recognizable brands like Eileen Fisher and Orla Kiely as well as smaller, independent labels like Stacey Lyn, Cut Loose and Ija. Find two locations in the area: the flagship shop on Pacific, and a Capitola store next to Gayle’s Bakery.

True Olive Connection

The True Olive Connection

For the epicureans in your life, seek out this Downtown shop stocked with a giddy amount of custom vinegars and olive oils. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know an EVOO from an Olio Nuovo: the welcoming staff couldn’t be more friendly and informative. Plus, it’s obvious they are having fun with tasty infusions like Avocado, Fajita, and Bacon. Try them drizzled over popcorn! Plus, this is a gift that rewards the giver as much as the recipient since you’ll be able to taste your way through plenty of samples. Just don’t miss the delectable Twins Kitchen jams which are made with True Olive’s vinegars.

Nut Kreations

Nut Kreations

This delightful, family-owned shop is a wonderland of savory and sweet treats. A huge glass counter brims with jars of nuts, chocolates, and candies, most of which are sourced within 100 miles of the shop. Customers simply point at what looks good (spoiler alert: it all does) and a staff member fills your bag. They also offer party platters and smaller pre-made bags that are perfect stocking stuffers. We love the assorted Pumpkin Pie with Whip Cream bag which replicates the creamy confection with pumpkin spiced caramels, maple sea salt pecans, and vanilla yogurt raisins. As the cheeky t-shirts proclaim: “I found my nuts in Santa Cruz.”

Wilder Ranch Parks

State Park Gift Shops

Here’s a useful shopping tip: get out of the mall and into the beautiful, fresh air setting of a local state park like Wilder Ranch or Henry Cowell Redwoods and still get your shopping done. State park visitor centers are an overlooked destination for cool gifts for outdoor lovers. Heck, you can even sneak in a quick hike while you’re there! Plus, you’ll be helping to support preservation of these stunning parks in the process. You can find gift shops within the visitors center at Henry Cowell Redwoods, Wilder Ranch, Natural Bridges, and Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.

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