With 300 days of sunshine, it’s no wonder outdoor patios abound in the Santa Cruz area! From beachfront decks to secret garden patios, the following al fresco spots allow you to soak up plenty of sun and scenery.
The Crow’s Nest
2218 E Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz
As if the enviable setting on Harbor Beach wasn’t enough, The Crow’s Nest sports three outdoor patios with stirring views of sailboats gliding in and out of the harbor. Choose from two patios within the main restaurant, where you can enjoy a happy hour cocktail and indulge in a delectable meal as the sun sets over the shore. For a more casual patio experience, enjoy a quick pizza or sandwich on the adjacent Beach Market deck, perched directly over the water. Whichever patio you choose, you’ll see what makes The Crow’s Nest a beloved local institution!
Ideal Bar & Grill
106 Beach St, Santa Cruz
Ideally located with views of the beach and Municipal Wharf, Ideal Bar & Grill offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Opt for the patio and have a front row seat to the Monterey Bay as you enjoy their generously portioned California cuisine, delicious seafood, specialty cocktails, and more.
Patio views from Capitola Village restaurants on the Esplanade – Photo by Liz Birnbaum, The Curated Feast
Capitola Village Waterfront Patios
Capitola Village, Capitola
Just look at the location above! Dine al fresco with ocean and Soquel Creek views in the quaint Capitola Village. Paradise Beach Grille, Zelda’s on the Beach, Margaritaville, and Capitola Bar & Grill are all great options that serve up an unforgettable atmosphere and cuisine – and you really can’t beat that Capitola backdrop!
Sip local Humble Sea Brew at the Beer Garden on the Wharf – Photo by Ben Ingram
Santa Cruz Wharf Restaurants
Santa Cruz Wharf, Santa Cruz
Perched above the Monterey Bay, the restaurants on the Santa Cruz Wharf offer patio dining with a side of ocean breeze and panoramic views. Choose to dine al fresco at one of the classics, like Stagnaro Bros., Riva’s, Woodies on the Wharf, and Dolphin Restaurant, or head to Makai’s tiki bar patio for an island-style escape. And new to the Wharf scene: the Humble Sea Beer Garden on the Wharf! Whichever patio you end up on, you’ll be amazed at the spectacular ocean views.
1 Davenport Ave, Davenport
Take a scenic drive up the coast to Davenport Roadhouse. Located just 10 minutes from Santa Cruz and 100 yards from the ocean, the Davenport Roadhouse is nestled among organic farms, boutique vineyards, state beaches, and hiking trails. The restaurant features produce from neighboring organic farms, a full bar, and outstanding local wines. With live music on the weekends, jam out as you take in the ocean views from their back patio!
519 Seabright Ave #107, Santa Cruz
Just blocks away from Seabright State Beach and the Santa Cruz Harbor, Seabright Social is a neighborhood brewpub & restaurant with a full bar and large patio. This spot is known by many as THE best patio in town to unwind after a day at the beach! Sip their signature Seabright Brewery local craft beers, some local wine on tap, or opt for a craft cocktail. The choices are endless!
The Picnic Basket
125 Beach St, Santa Cruz
This cozy lunch and breakfast spot dishes up wholesome eats and seasonal scoops from The Penny Ice Creamery just steps from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. A sidewalk patio on palm tree-lined Beach Street offers front-row views of Main Beach and the Santa Cruz Wharf.
Las Palmas Taco Bar
55 Front St, Santa Cruz
Just a short walk to all the action of the Santa Cruz Wharf, Beach Boardwalk, and gorgeous Monterey Bay, Las Palmas has been serving Santa Cruz since 1975. Authentic Mexican food in the heart of all the Santa Cruz beach attractions.
535 7th Ave, Santa Cruz
Although technically there’s no ocean view, when you’re at this local favorite (we’re talking over 50 years in Santa Cruz) the beach isn’t far off – and neither are the mimosas! Breakfast, brunch, lunch, and the cocktails are covered at the Harbor Cafe. Other not-to-miss breakfast joints with patios that locals and visitors love are Paula’s and Linda’s Seabreeze.
Cafe Bittersweet Bistro
787 Rio Del Mar Blvd, Aptos
Bittersweet Bistro features an American Bistro Cuisine style menu with Mediterranean influences served in a casual atmosphere in Aptos, California. Their gorgeous patio dining is spacious and features gardens, a fountain, and a koi pond. And a huge bonus: dogs are welcome and even have their own menu items!
1750 Wharf Rd, Capitola
This wondrous Capitola restaurant is cherished for its many dining rooms with features such as a massive stone hearth and indoor garden. Nestled amidst the redwoods and overlooking peaceful Soquel Creek is the second-story patio, where you can revel in Shadowbrook’s fine dining while enjoying the scenery.
Heavenly Roadside Cafe
1210 Mt Hermon Rd, Scotts Valley
In Scotts Valley, Heavenly Roadside Cafe has a large patio space perfect for a sunny meal and mimosas. Heavenly is known for its famously delicious (and generous) breakfast and lunch dishes. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu but a few favorites are the Crab Cake Benedict, Buttermilk Pancakes, Belgian Waffle, Burgers, and any of their specials! And big bonus for all the dog lovers out there: their patio is pup-friendly!
The Crepe Place
1134 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz
A hidden backyard garden awaits at The Crepe Place, a Santa Cruz classic that’s been operating for more than 50 years. The flourishing patio oasis sits just behind the historic building, providing the ideal space to escape the hustle and bustle of busy Midtown. Slow down and enjoy the moment as you sip on a housemade cocktail and indulge in a decadent crepe!
1522 Pacific Avenue, Downtown Santa Cruz
Right on the bustling Pacific Avenue in Downtown Santa Cruz, Chocolate’s patio is truly a secret garden. The lush gardens surrounding the patio make for a wonderful atmosphere – especially paired with their incredible dishes, desserts, and drinks! The patio is also heated, so no need to worry about chilly evenings.
101 Cooper St, Santa Cruz
Secluded from the bustle of downtown, Laili’s lush garden patio of fig trees and ivy-covered walls is a romantic setting for richly flavorful Mediterranean dishes such as an apricot chicken flatbread and braised lamb shank served with kabuli rice.
3101 N Main Street, Soquel
Tucked away in Soquel Village, find refuge in the beautiful backyard patio at HOME. Twinkle lights provide a gentle glimmer over the yard as the smell of dough wafts from the brick pizza oven. As if the cozy ambiance wasn’t enough, the ever-changing array of delectable dishes coming out of Chef Brad Briske’s kitchen are sure to leave you wanting more!
2621 41st Ave, Soquel
This local favorite serves up rustic Cal-Italian dishes in their charming courtyard. Surrounded by greenery, you’ll feel as though you stepped into a secret garden as you settle in for a delectable meal amidst beautiful planters and a large stone fireplace.
Back Nine Grill & Bar
Inside the Inn at Pasatiempo, 555 CA-17, Santa Cruz
Bordered in plants and strung with lights over head, this transformed outdoor space feels like a sophisticated night out! The fresh, “ranch to grill with a California spin” menu has lots to chose from.
The View at Chaminade Resort & Spa
1 Chaminade Ln, Santa Cruz
We’re still not sure how such dramatic, hilltop vistas are possible just 10 minutes from the beach, but we’re not complaining. Enjoy The View in every sense of the phrase – the excellent food and service, the fire-pit equipped outdoor tables, and of course, the hilltop Monterey Bay vistas.
The Grille at DeLaveaga
401 Upper Park Rd, Santa Cruz
No golf required (although recommended) to enjoy the panoramic views and great food at The Grille at DeLaveaga. Their large outdoor patio, expansive golf course and ocean views, fresh Californian dishes, plus full bar in the restaurant and at The Patio Bar Rangeside at DeLa, are sure to have you linger.
Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort
1 Seascape Resort Drive, Aptos
Enjoy the casual elegance of the string-lit patio at Sanderlings, overlooking the majestic Monterey Bay. Sanderlings Restaurant at Seascape Resort offers elegant, casual dining with a spectacular ocean view from sunrise to sunset.
BUZZWORTHY PATIOS AROUND TOWN
Abbott Square Market
725 Front Street, Downtown Santa Cruz
This dynamic plaza and marketplace has enlivened already vibrant Downtown Santa Cruz with 6+ restaurants, two bars, plenty of al fresco courtyard seating, and a lineup of free performances and public art.
1203 Mission St, Santa Cruz
Step into vacation mode on Copal’s patio, an oasis tucked away on the Westside that will transport you to the southern coast of Mexico. Dive in with the Copal Margarita, whose smoky mezcal flavor superbly complements its tangy tequila. Rimmed with spicy sal de gusano and topped with a lime, you won’t want to miss out on this marg! Take a tour of Oaxaca with your taste buds, which will surely please your palate!
2125 Delaware Avenue, Santa Cruz
Don’t miss this hidden gem on the Westside, where you can enjoy breakfast or lunch on the Italian-style café’s sunny patio. The award-winning scones are sure to please, like the delectable White Chocolate Lavender Scone, which is satisfyingly crunchy on the outside, yet soft on the inside. Bring your pup along to grab a bite at this dog-friendly spot!
Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar
1100 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz
Cozy up in Kianti’s large patio to enjoy the flurry of downtown as you choose from Italian-style dishes created with an assortment of fresh ingredients. Customize your pizza or pasta dish to make it your own, and don’t miss their dough-slinging performances on weekend evenings!
The Watsonville Hangar
There is something for every palate in this naval-air-station-turned-gastronome’s-heaven. Eateries include: Beer Mule, Zameen Cuisine, Mr. Z’s Crepes and Teas, ScoopDog, and Honeylux Coffee. Whatever provisions you choose, you’ll find exceptional tastes and ample outdoor space at this buzzing south county community hub.
Walnut Avenue Cafe
106 Walnut Ave, Santa Cruz
Arrive early at this local favorite to secure a coveted spot on the cheery front patio, where you can enjoy big plates of mouthwatering brunch items, like Blackened Ahi Benedict, French Toast, or one of their delicious scrambles. Bring your pup along to this dog-friendly spot!
Bruno’s Bar & Grill
230 Mount Hermon Rd, Scotts Valley
Located in sunny Scotts Valley, Bruno’s is a hopping spot for great food and drinks, friendly service, and a fun time – plus, they have recently been voted Best Restaurant in Scotts Valley! Their outdoor lounge, known as Cloud 9, is a great spot to linger with friends. Enjoy cocktails and delicious food in style and comfort on their outdoor rooftop deck with views of the Scotts Valley mountains.
538 Seabright Ave, Santa Cruz
Located in the picturesque Seabright neighborhood, La Posta’s traditional Italian menu of fresh pastas, desserts, breads, and pizzas cannot be missed. Enjoy their spacious and inviting patio with favorites like the Ricotta Eggplant Cannelloni or the Fig + Pig Pizza made with prosciutto, smoked eggplant purée, goat cheese, balsamic, arugula, and of course, fig.
917 Mission St, Santa Cruz
Head over to the Westside for a meal at Avanti Restaurant, where you’ll find a foodie’s culinary haven. Settle in on their patio as you explore this seasonal and locally sourced menu. This farm-to-table meal will leave you wanting more!
Hula’s Island Grill
221 Cathcart Street, Santa Cruz
This atmospheric spot offers a taste of the tropics in Downtown Santa Cruz with tiki drinks and pupus best enjoyed on a sleek outdoor “parklet.”
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing
402 Ingalls St #27, Santa Cruz
This organic brewery offers delicious bites with their cold brews on the cheerful, sunny Westside of Santa Cruz. Their patio is dog-friendly and you’ll enjoy the great service and tasty bites and brews, just as much as you will love the superb puppy watching.
Lupulo Craft Beer House
Located in Downtown Santa Cruz, Lupulo has a constantly rotating selection of 16 small-production beers on tap and over 100 bottles priced to go or to enjoy with something from their seasonal menu on their outdoor patio.
Humble Sea Brewing Co. & Humble Sea Beer Garden on the Wharf
820 Swift St, Santa Cruz; 21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz
Head to one of the Humble Sea Brewing Co.’s two locations, all equipped with charming patios where you can grab a brew to enjoy under blue skies. At the flagship location on the Westside, the taproom’s nautical flair is a nod to the nearby Monterey Bay. Humble Sea’s local favorite craft brews are always on tap! And at their latest location mentioned in the Beachfront Bliss section, is right on the Wharf and has panoramic views of the Monterey Bay.
Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen
200 High Rd, Santa Cruz
Although technically more of a “spirits garden,” Venus Spirits Kitchen & Cocktail Westside deserves a place on the list! Visit the next door tasting room or enjoy creative craft cocktails alongside fresh, locally sourced and seasonal eats.
MORE WELL WORTH THE MENTION
Cafe Mare, Capitola Wine Bar, Gabriella Cafe, Gayle’s Bakery, Mackenzie Bar & Grill, and Persephone, are also ready to serve in the open air. For even more dining and outdoor dining options in Santa Cruz County, including wine tasting, be sure to check our website!