Cruising along the curvy, redwood-lined Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains, it’s almost hard to spot the charming suburb that’s tucked between the trees: Scotts Valley. This Santa Cruz Mountain gem features rolling hills to explore, tasty eateries, delectable desserts, and whimsical shops – and that’s not all! There are a number of sports bars where you can grab a brew and catch the game, or head to a tasting room to sample a few local wines before resting your head at one of Scotts Valley’s cozy accommodations. The ideally-situated town of Scotts Valley is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered!
For a meal that’s truly divine, stop into the Heavenly Roadside Café! Their generous portion sizes and relaxed atmosphere will make you feel right at home as you prepare to chow down. Brunch is truly Heavenly: sip on an indulgent, chocolate-drizzled iced mocha or fruity mimosa while you decide between the luxuriant crab cake benedict, the comforting “Cowboy” biscuits & gravy benedict, or something sweeter, like the Texas-sized french toast!
A focus on high-quality, local ingredients sets the cuisine apart in Scotts Valley. Serving up fresh seafood is Rumble Fish, where the menu is packed with options that range from classic to inventive. A sushi lover’s dream! Over at The Redwood Sandwich Co,, high-quality ingredients elevate each bite from this community-favorite. Snag a classic-with-a-California-twist, the B.L.T.A. – that’s bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado – to eat on their patio or bring along for a hike.
The lush, rolling hills of Scotts Valley make for excellent exploring, especially the 170 acres of natural lands that make up Glenwood Open Space Preserve! With over 7 miles of trails to discover across its two parts – East and West – Glenwood Preserve’s multitude of beautiful hiking trails encompasses diverse habitats, flora, and fauna, so keep your eyes peeled for deer, bobcats, coyotes, and hawks, amongst others, and in the springtime, wildflowers blanket the rolling hillsides in a spectacular display of color! Both sides of Glenwood are maintained by the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, which seeks to protect and preserve the lands that make this coastal California area special while creating connections between humans and nature that will inspire conservation for years to come.
Grab a frosty pint post-hike at one of Scotts Valley’s assorted sports bars and breweries around town. With an abundance of beer-slinging outdoor patios to enjoy, it’s hard to know where to start! Faultline Brewing Company is a triple threat: part brewery, part restaurant, and part sports bar. With its 100-seat patio and two-story building, there’s plenty of room to take in its ten Bay-Area-brewed beers on tap paired with delicious comfort food from the kitchen! Just down the road is another spectacular patio at Bruno’s Bar and Grill. This award-winning joint is a crowd favorite, with game options like pool, ping pong, shuffleboard, and darts, as well as trivia nights where you get extra points for shaking your tailfeather to the audio clues!
Family-owned-and-operated, Steel Bonnet Brewing’s nano-brewery, taproom, and beer garden offer up effervescent brews while rotating food trucks bring in a variety of flavorful food from around the county.
Live music bumps five nights a week at Malone’s Grille, where you can enjoy 24 beers on tap, award-winning burgers, and happy hour on their epic fireside patio! Distinctive pint pairings are the cornerstone at Two Doors: one door is a sports bar, the other offers up Jia Tella’s Cambodian cuisine. With options like burgers, curries, and booze from the “Bar Next Door,” there’s something for everyone at Two Doors!
Step back in time for a boomtown-style wine crawl at tasting room neighbors Inversion Wines and Kissed by an Angel Wines. Take a seat at the reclaimed wood bar and soak in the relaxing atmosphere at Inversion Wines, where winemaker Peter Kirchner has taken care to bring out the best of each grape varietal. On weekends, you can bring along a picnic and enjoy live music while you sample a selection of their local wines! Next door is Kissed by an Angel Wines, an award-winning vintner that makes premium wines at an affordable price point. Their tasting flight rotates monthly to highlight their seasonal varietals when their flavor profiles are at their peak! Reservations are recommended.
Dessert lovers can rejoice! From artisanal chocolate to sweet boba teas to ice cream, Scotts Valley has sugary treats that can satisfy the sweetest of sweet tooths. Founded in Santa Cruz but expanding throughout the county – including Scotts Valley, Penny Ice Creamery sources seasonal, organic ingredients from local farmers to create their delicious ice creams. Their hand-crafted flavors are unexpected-yet-delicious, like Strawberry Pink Peppercorn, Whiskey Custard, and even Vanilla Ricotta Raspberry, which are served up alongside classics like Chocolate and Tahitian Vanilla. Try a new flavor in a handmade waffle cone, and don’t miss out on Penny’s signature topping: toasted marshmallow fluff!
Craft and creativity collide to create decadent chocolates and fanciful treats at Ashby Confections. Each hand-decorated bonbon is a sensory experience that is sure to incite future chocolate cravings!
For a unique saccharine experience, hop over to Soul Sweets, where you can grab a Nutella-drenched Egg Waffle and a Milk Tea Float. A must-try is Taiyaki – these Japanese fish-shaped cakes are filled with red bean paste, chocolate, or custard, and will leave you wanting more!
Whimsy and wonder can be found among the carefully curated collection of wares at Zinnia’s Gift Boutique: from home goods to jewelry and gifts galore, there is something sure to delight each visitor! Head to its sister store, HOME by Zinnia’s, in The Hangar for an enhanced gathering of aesthetically pleasing goods tailored for the modern home.
Santa Cruz skateboards adorn the walls at Cali Style, where you can grab gear like the famous Santa Cruz dot sweatshirts, and other San Lorenzo Valley wares. Many of these goods are unique to the area, and can’t be found elsewhere!
The thrill of finding a unique retro piece can be found in the wide collection of vintage wares at Ivy’s Porch: antique furniture can be spotted amidst home and garden finds as well as timeless goods and gifts curated here by various local dealers.
Unwind after a day of exploring at one of the relaxing accommodations around Scotts Valley. The charming castle-meets-craftsman architecture of the Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley is a warm welcome to a cozy stay in their luxurious rooms. Plush bedding, redwood forest views, and a tree-lined swimming pool make the Hilton a top choice! The Hilton is also equipped with an in-house restaurant and bar, as well as a 24-hour snack shop to satiate those late-night cravings.
Tucked away nearby is the Four Points by Sheraton, whose spacious-yet-comfortable rooms and resort-style amenities are situated just off Highway 17 for easy access to Santa Cruz’s beaches while also being close to the redwood forests. Just around the corner is the Best Western Plus, a cozy inn that provides comfortable lodgings, free continental breakfast, and a pool and hot tub to lounge by in the mountain air. Pets are welcome in all three of these accommodations, so you can bring Fido along, too!
This quaint suburban town is brimming with culinary delights, shopping, and plentiful patio seating to soak in the mountain sun. The thriving community of Scotts Valley is a Santa Cruz Mountains gem, just waiting to be discovered!
Header photo by Ben Ingram