Travel Blog

Santa Cruz County Holiday Gift Guide

Your 2020 Holiday Gift Guide to Santa Cruz County

It’s that time of year again! Don’t let the hustle, bustle and those hard-to-shop-for people on your list get you down! Think outside the big box and take a look at this Holiday Gift Guide with 20+ Santa Cruz ideas that are easy, fun, and totally unique! And for those out of the area or who may not want to shop in store this year, check out our list of 40+ Santa Cruz County businesses offering online gift certificates and e-cards! #LetsShopSafely this season!

GIVE A CLASSIC SANTA CRUZ EXPERIENCE

Salty Surf Culture
Santa Cruz has surf culture pumping through its veins. Give someone a little taste of the Santa Cruz vibe with some surf ware. O’Neill is iconic in Santa Cruz and the surf world and places like Surf City Santa CruzFreeline Surf ShopNolands on the WharfCapitola Beach Company, carry some O’Neill brand and much, much more. And if wearing some surf culture isn’t enough, consider some surf lessons with a local guru! Get ready for your surf lesson in the latest swimwear fashion with Nubia Swimwear.

Give Some Excitement with Games and Rides
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is kinda a big deal. And if you’re a kid (or a kid at heart), it’s a really big deal! And don’t forget the golf gamers too! A round at PasatiempoBoulder Creek Golf and County Club, or DeLaveaga is a big hole-in-one in the gift-giving department.

A Rush in the Redwoods
Mount Hermon Adventures has been thrilling visitors since 2010 with canopy tours – some as high as 150 feet up in the trees! Ziplining through the redwoods is a must! See California’s towering redwood trees from two historic railroads. Roaring Camp Railroads offers you a chance to travel on authentic 19th-century steam trains through the Big Trees to the summit of Bear Mountain or ride early 1900s Pullman cars and open-air excursion cars along a scenic river gorge through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to the beach of Santa Cruz.

SWEETS, TREATS, AND THINGS TO EAT

Delicious Bakery Delights from Gayle’s
Pop into Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria for award-winning breads and pastries. Between their regular favorites and seasonal delights, you can find everything from holiday meal help, extra special desserts, and dozens of items to chose from for the season!

Gourmet Chocolate at Mutari
The folks at Mutari Chocolate are cocoa perfectionists, connoisseurs, and enthusiasts. Specializing in ethically sourced, single-origin chocolate and cocoa, one bite (or sip) and you’ll taste the crafted difference. Have fun picking out the perfectly packed gourmet hot chocolates, truffles, ice cream, baked goods, and more!

100% Handmade Treats at Ashby Confections
These aren’t your average candies! Ashby Confections are as much art as they are delicious. Chocolates, Caramels, Fruit Confections, Tortoises, Truffles, and more, Ashby knocks them all out of the park! Just look at those beauties! 

Cookies Aren’t Just for Santa
Whether your giving, receiving, or just stopping in for a cookie between your Downtown holiday shopping, Pacific Cookie Company is a season must! And this year they are offering the Surf City Sweets Cookie Tower with a dozen delicious cookies that are sure to give people a taste of Santa Cruz!

Signature Santa Cruz Dining
Chances are someone (or everyone) on your list who can appreciate some great food and drink! Consider a gift card to a fine dinner out – Shadowbrook, Jack O’Neill Restaurant & LoungeLailiCafe CruzCrow’s NestThe View, and Persephone are just a handful of date night favorites! And don’t forget some locals’ favorites like Charlie Hong KongKianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar, Back Nine Grill & BarBruno’s Bar & Grill, and more! Take a peek at our Dining Guide for more favorites!

Craft Brew + Local Wine
Get on board with the craft brew buzz and hop over to Lupulo Craft Beer or Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing and oogle at their impressive selection of bottles and cans available for purchase. For the beer “wow factor,” book a tour with the Brew Cruz where you can experience Santa Cruz beer in the comfort of a 1989 Thomas International bus. Got some wine drinkers? Choose a unique and local bottle of wine from one of the dozens of Santa Cruz County wineries and vineyards. Another perfectly festive gift is a variety of sparkling ciders from Martinelli’s in Watsonville. Go beyond Sparkling Apple and try other favorites like the Sparkling Blush, Sparkling Apple-Pomegranate, Sparkling Apple-Peach, and more.

NATURE LOVERS

Be a Friend to Our State Parks + Environment
Nature gifts, history themes, park passes, and tons of uniquely Santa Cruz gifts! Shop online with the Friends Park Stores and find items themed to Santa Cruz State Parks including Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, Natural Bridges State Beach, New Brighton State Beach, Seacliff State Beach, and Wilder Ranch State Park. And with your purchase, know that all the proceeds benefit local state parks and beaches. A gift the nature lovers are sure to appreciate!

Experience the Monterey Bay
Winter months happen to be a crescendo of wildlife in Santa Cruz County. Monarchs, elephant seals, birds, otters, and WHALES! Book a whale-watching excursion in the Monterey Bay with Stagnaro Whale Watching and you’re sure to please the adventurous nature lover on your list. Opt for a relaxing sail or charter with the experienced crews of Chardonnay Sailing or O’Neill Yacht Charters. Want a bit more of a hands-on experience in the water? Gear up and get out on the Bay with a kayak or stand up paddleboards! Capitola Beach CompanyKayak Connection, and SUP Shack are just a few of the companies that can help organize an unforgettable experience out on the water.

STYLISH GIFTS

Organic Aesthetic and Garden Delights 
One step into Dig Gardens and you will know you’re in the right place for some holiday shopping! With their flawless boho and modern style, Dig has a great mix of houseplants, terrariums, contemporary home, and gift items, gardening supplies, art, and more. Get inspired, pick out some gifts, and don’t forget to take a couple of photos – this place is Instagram gold!

Contemporary Home Goods
Stop by Home/Work Santa Cruz located in the Seabright area. One walk through their store and you will appreciate their carefully curated housewares and gifts – just take a peek at their Instagram page – lost of gift inspiration! For those stylish folks on your list, you could pretty much pick anything out at these stores!

Treat Yourself at Hip and Chick Organiks
Hip and Chick Organiks is a locally-owned shop in Pleasure Point that makes bath and body products, candles, and more! Choose from their tropical scents, or deck the halls with their “Holidaze” collection: bubble bath, hand cream, and a soy candle.

Impress with Artisan Glassware
Well known handcrafted glassware by Annieglass is made right in Watsonville, California. These gorgeous pieces are individually crafted and revered for their beauty and elegance. For more jewelry finds Downtown, stop by Stephan’s and Super Silver.

Inspired by Local Art & Handmade Gifts
At Hausman Studio, be inspired by the colors and atmosphere of the Central Coast. Visit their studio in Soquel or signup for a painting instruction. If you’re looking for handmade items from local artist, Artisans & Agency features wall art, jewelry, glass, ceramics, metal work, woodworking, cards, kids items, bath products and more. For more handmade gifts and antiques, head to Center Street Antiques and Interiors, Cowbelles for Heart & Home, Craft Gallery, and Lundberg Studios.

Holiday Cheer at Bookshop Santa Cruz
We’re going to go ahead and put Bookshop Santa Cruz under the stylish category and if you step foot in there over the next month you’ll definitely see why. They have tons of ornaments (hands-down the coolest, most unique selection around), holiday-themed gifts, fun toys, and oh, BOOKS! The Cook’s Bookcase has rare books on cooking technique, culinary history, and more just in time for the holiday season!

Fashionable Finds
Pacific Trading Co has perfectly curated collections from over 100 brands including Michael Stars, Eileen Fisher, Velvet, AG Denim, Love Heals, Citizens of Humanity, Free People, Dolce Vita, Tysa and more. Sockshop and Shoe Company has an incredible selection of leather and vegan purses, wallets, beautiful scarves, hats, belts and more. And for kids, we have a great selection of socks, rain boots and slippers.

Updated November 2020

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. For a complete overview of all cookies used, please read more here.