Instagram brims with stunning shots of Santa Cruz, showing off its inspiring coastline, pastoral farms and towering redwood forests. Yet what you may not have noticed is that, against this scenic backdrop, a nascent craft movement is taking root. Venerable Santa Cruz producers like Marini’s Candies are being joined by a new generation of artisans producing handcrafted food, drink, home goods, and apparel that are delighting locals and visitors. Here’s a glimpse of some local producers — both old and new — shaping the local food and craft scene.
Penny Ice Creamery – What makes this popular ice cream stop remarkable is not just the fresh flavors sourced from local purveyors, but the fact that it is one of a few ice creams made completely from scratch. Okay, the toasted marshmallow topping is pretty special too.
Cremer House – In addition to fine-crafted ales, this bustling taproom + restaurant from our friends at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing produces their own hot sauce, mustard and pickles for purchase.
Pacific Cookie Company – The sweet aroma of freshly baked cookies wafts over bustling Pacific Street, luring patrons in for a nibble of creations like the triple chocolate Dr. Midnight.
Marini’s – This beloved Santa Cruz institution has delighting guests with handmade chocolates and salt water taffy for over 100 years. Check out the Westside location which sports a spinning gum drop ferris wheel!
Buttercup Cakes – At local cake boss Jan Wilson’s sweet shop in downtown Santa Cruz, the atmosphere is giddy as patrons choose from a colorful assortment of picture perfect cupcakes.
Sojourn Box – This wonderful collection lends a perfect sampling of Santa Cruz’s artisanal products. The beautifully packaged box is stocked with goodies like Companion Bakeshop biscottis, Mutari sipping chocolates, and Pantry House mustard. Pick up Sojourn Box online or at local shops like Buttercup Cakes.
Bonny Doon Vineyard – Vineyards have graced the Santa Cruz Mountains for over 100 years, but we doubt any vintner had as much fun as Randall Grahm. The eccentric — and talented — winemaker created an extraterrestrial “Booniverse” to feature his Rhone style wines. Don’t miss the exceptional ciders!
New Bohemia Brewing Company – NuBo brings Old World lagers to sunny Santa Cruz after brewmaster Dan Satterthwaite honed his skills in traditional Bavarian brewery. Enjoy beers like their flagship On Point Czech Lager and the hophead fave, Whale of An Ale.
Venus Spirits – Peek behind the bar of Santa Cruz’s better restaurants and you’re likely to spy a smart-looking bottle from Venus Spirits. The Westside distiller produces organic, small-batch gin, whiskey and a blue-agave spirit that would be called tequila if it were made in the designated part of Mexico.
Home/Work – This vibrant downtown shop is a hub for beautifully designed, local artisan goods. Discover lovely tableware from Sanny Ceramics, hammered brass jewelry from Sticks and Stones, hand block printed linens from Willow Ship, and Salt Roots Soaps’ gorgeous handmade bars named for destinations around the Monterey Bay.
Head’n Home Hats – Across from the Watsonville airport — hidden in plane view, perhaps? — you’ll find a showroom filled with locally made, handcrafted leather headwear in wide range of styles, from western to Steampunk.
Berdels – Surf style is everywhere in Santa Cruz, but this downtown shop is the only place you’ll find small, local labels like Thieves, Uroko, and Ventana.