Did you know that Pleasure Point -- a delightful Santa Cruz neighborhood and famed surf spot -- actually earned its hedonistic moniker from the area’s Prohibition-era shenanigans? I always thought it was because of the neighborhood’s pleasing sea-kissed air, scenic vistas and sunny surf town demeanor. Either way, this little corner of Santa Cruz is a great spot to while away a nice day noshing, window-shopping and celebrating the local surf culture.
All photos by Garrick Ramirez
EAT + DRINK
Start the day with a jolt from Verve Coffee Roasters. The handsome storefront is abuzz with locals who line up for locally-made pastries and the famed Bowl of Soul, a tea-based latte that’s steeped in soy milk, honey and topped with a soy froth.
I dont know any surf town that doesn’t have a hulking breakfast burrito within a surf leash’s reach. Chill Out Café goes a step further with -- count ‘em -- twenty-one varieties. Enjoy in the cozy, backyard patio with the rest of the neighborhood.
When it’s time for a treat, there’s Penny Ice Creamery Pleasure Point. This stylish outpost of the popular downtown creamery serves as a great anchor to build your day around. Grab a cone and walk it down to the beach or around the neighborhood shops.
Take one step into Pleasure Point Pizza -- with every inch of its dining room covered in surfboards, surf posters and photos -- and you’ll quickly realize that it’s a beloved neighborhood landmark. It even earned a role in the 2012 flick Chasing Mavericks which chronicles local surf legend Jay Moriarty. Check out our map of other local spots featured in the film.
On Sundays, swing by the Live Oak Farmers’ Market which hosts a lively atmosphere, swinging music, local farmers and some killer brunch foods. Don’t pass up the breakfast tacos from The Truck Stop whose produce comes straight from their organic farm (or as they like to call it: farm-to-truck).
Photo courtesy of The Truck Stop
The commercial hub of Pleasure Point sits at the cross of 41st Ave and Portola Dr. Numerous shops and boutiques line palm tree-fronted 41st Ave. You’ll find an endless array of surf and skate gear, beach apparel, coastal home decor and vintage/resale clothing.
At the southern end of 41st Ave (about 3 blocks from the area described above) you’ll find The Hook, a popular surf spot with a scenic overlook that attracts onlookers. It's a great place linger, scope surfers and boogie boarders and breathe in beauty of Monterey Bay.
There’s a short, dedicated bike path that picks up at The Hook and skirts East Cliff with knockout views of the Bay. Rent bikes nearby at Santa Cruz Family Cycling Center and go for a spin. Or cruise on over to Capitola Village which is less than 10 minutes away by bike.
The three year old Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott ranks as one of the top Fairfield properties in North America. It distinguishes itself with all-suite rooms, bar, large conference room and custom art and light fixtures that include a dazzling glass begonia chandelier (the begonia flower is the emblem of Capitola as celebrated by the annual Begonia Festival). It even has a bocce ball court! Free WiFi and a complimentary breakfast round out the perks.
Photo courtesy of Fairfield Inn & Suites
The 57-room Best Western Plus Capitola By-the-Sea Inn & Suites sports free WiFi, a heated salt-water pool, and hearty complimentary breakfast served in a comfortable new dining room. The property also boasts a few mini-suites, some with fireplaces.
Photo courtesy of Best Western Capitola By-the-Sea
Fall asleep to the sound of the crashing waves at Ocean Echo Inn & Beach Cottages. This hidden gem has direct access to a favorite local beach between Santa Cruz & Capitola and its charming location and quaint rooms are sure to have you feeling rested and rejuvenated.
Photo courtesy of Ocean Echo
Bella Notte is a 10-room boutique property lushly landscaped with flowers, climbing vines and bright citrus trees. Its plush, comfortable rooms feature upscale amenities like heated bathroom floors, wet bar, flat screen with DirectTV. Bonus: it’s walking distance to beautiful Twin Lakes Beach.
Photo courtesy of Bella Notte