Santa Cruz student recommendations

11th Hour Coffee has taken over the Swift Street Courtyard location formerly occupied by Kelly's French Bakery
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Here’s a list of recommendations for Santa Cruz students written by Santa Cruz students. All recs are featured in weekly editions of Student Lookout.

Five top study spots

Recommended by Lookout intern and Cabrillo College student Aidan Warzecha-Watson

11th Hour Coffee's Westside Santa Cruz location
11th Hour Coffee’s Westside Santa Cruz location.
(Nik Altenberg / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Looking for places to study this week? Here are some great coffee shops to fit your needs:

  • The Tabby Cat Cafe (7 a.m. – 4 p.m.): Located in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, this laid-back coffee shop serves excellent coffee in a gentle atmosphere. It has free wifi, but more important to those of us with poor battery power, a lot of outlets. This coffee shop is the ideal place to relax, dive into your work and stay charged all day.
  • 11th Hour Coffee (7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.): This local coffee shop is well known among students, and for a good reason. This cafe has some of the most creative flavor combinations in its drinks and serves amazing snacks to keep you going throughout your study session. Its downtown Santa Cruz location has been popular with students as it is open later than many other coffee shops and have many outlets. The recently opened Westside location (closes at 5 p.m.) offers a new outdoor place for students to get their studying done, but the lack of outlets makes the studying a little harder.
  • Ivéta Café (8 a.m. – 3 p.m.): While many students are aware of the on-campus location (which is currently closed), few venture to Ivéta’s lower Westside location. This little café boasts a comfy outdoor patio, a quiet loft (with lots of outlets) and excellent food. For those looking to get a little early morning studying in, you’d be hard pressed to find a better spot.
  • Coffeetopia (6 a.m. - 3 p.m.): For those early birds out there, you can’t ask for a better study spot than Coffeetopia. It has multiple locations, offers free wifi and boasts an impressive drink collection of Italian espressos and teas — as well as wonderful bagel sandwiches. If you need a break from studying, its Portola Drive location is a mere stroll from the great views of Opal Cliffs.
  • Coffeeville Watsonville (6 a.m. - 4 p.m.): Formerly known as Goble Coffee Roasting, this Watsonville shop strives to provide its customers with natural and organic options. It has a delicious menu of snacks to accompany their caffeinated drinks, and are open until 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, allowing students to get an extra hour of studying in on the weekend. If you are lucky, get your hands on a baked-in-house cinnamon roll with cream cheese frosting- but hurry, they run out quickly.

Top spots for book shopping

Inside Bookshop Santa Cruz
Inside Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Recommended by Lookout intern and UCSC student Christian Abraham

Calling all book lovers! Check out our top recommendations for the best bookworm spots across Santa Cruz County, sure to meet every literary need on any budget.

  • Bookshop Santa Cruz (DTSC): a staple of Santa Cruz since 1966, Bookshop Santa Cruz has served as a top choice for readers across the county. Known for its expansive variety and up-to-date collections, this independent bookstore offers everything from novels to magazines to UCSC merch to a wide selection of gifts (it even boasts a free gift-wrapping station!). The convenient downtown location has cemented Bookshop as both a local favorite and tourist destination — all for good reason.
  • Bad Animal (DTSC): In the mood for something a little unconventional? This used book shop also doubles as an eclectic wine bar, featuring natural and biodynamic wines from California and France. As far as books, Bad Animal specializes in rare, fine-press and historically significant copies with a focus on literature, philosophy and theology. Explore your wild side at this unique readers’ spot.
  • Goodwill Central Coast (Capitola): You might deem Goodwill an unlikely spot to find books, but don’t discount it too quickly (pardon the pun). These thrift stores offer a surprisingly broad variation of used books and magazines for low prices, not to mention the collection of cheap accessories from bookends to cases. Head to the vast Capitola location and pick up some new reads for just a few bucks.
  • Two Birds Books (Pleasure Point): This independent bookstore has become a focal point on the Eastside, attracting readers with its assortment of new and used books, in addition to a fun lineup of literary-themed gifts and trinkets — not to mention the adorable store dogs, Tito and Marshmallow.
  • Comicopolis (DTSC): For all you comic lovers out there, Santa Cruz’s finest comic-book store, Comicopolis, is sure to satisfy all your cravings. Head to its downtown location to peruse a carefully curated selection of games, comics, graphic novels and more. Whatever you’re a fan of, you can count on Comicopolis’ varied collections to guarantee to impress.
  • BONUS: Moe’s Books (Berkeley): If you happen to find yourself in the heart of downtown Berkeley, be sure to stop by the famous Moe’s Books. A Berkeley landmark since 1959, this massive shop boasts four whole floors of books. With a range of new and used books on every conceivable topic, Moe’s is one spot that should be on every book lover’s bucket list.

Three fun trivia nights

Friends drinking beer at New Bohemia in Capitola
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Recommended by Lookout intern and Cabrillo College student Aidan Warzecha-Watson

Do you know where the trivia spots are in Santa Cruz? If you’ve been searching for the answer, look no further. Lookout has compiled three fun trivia spots students should visit:

  • New Bohemia Brewing Company, 41st Avenue, Tuesdays starting at 6:30 p.m.: New Bohemia, or NuBo, is a fun brewing company that bases its beers on Czech brews. It hosts a fun trivia night every Tuesday featuring delicious tacos to pair with your NuBo beer.
  • Upper Crust Pizza & Pasta, Mission Street, Wednesdays starting at 7:30 p.m.: Another popular pizza joint in Santa Cruz, Upper Crust hosts trivia night every Wednesday. There are two games back-to-back, and the winners receive a $25 gift certificate to put toward future delicious Upper Crust meals.
  • Woodstock’s, Front Street downtown, Thursdays; signups at 8:30 p.m., event starts at 9 p.m.: Woodstock’s Pizza holds trivia nights every Thursday. Enjoy pizza, salads and snacks as you try to win prizes by answering questions during its lively events. Fortunately for those 21 and over, $9 pitchers of beer start at the same time as the game!
  • Check out these other places: A number of other local establishments host trivia nights frequently but not regularly. Check their sites for weekly schedule updates: Greater Purpose Brewing Company, Humble Sea Brewing Co., Hotel Paradox, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing

Four Santa Cruz ice cream spots to try

Penny Ice Creamery's Scotts Valley spot.
(Via Penny Ice Creamery)

Recommended by Lookout intern and Cabrillo College student Aidan Warzecha-Watson

Santa Cruz hosts some of the best quality and most unique ice cream from local creameries. Here are our picks to try. Maybe this weekend?

  • Classic and affordable, with lots of variety: Marianne’s Ice Cream. Marianne’s Ice Cream is a local shop that opened in 1947. Its ice cream is exceptional and revered by the locals. Boasting 105 flavors, Marianne’s is guaranteed to have something for everyone. Locations & hours: 1020 Ocean St. in Santa Cruz, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.; 218 State Park Dr. in Seacliff, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m.
  • Farm-to-table style and very Instagrammable: The Penny Ice Creamery. The Penny Ice Creamery is known for its artisanal, made-from-scratch ice cream. Penny works with local farmers and food artisans to create unique flavors for its ever-changing menu. Locations & hours: 913 Cedar St. in Santa Cruz, noon - 11 p.m.; 820 41st Ave. in Pleasure Point, noon - 10 p.m.; 141 Aptos Village Way in Aptos, noon - 9 p.m.; 262 Mount Hermon Rd. in Scotts Valley, noon - 10 p.m.
  • Artisanal flavor with laid-back vibes: Mission Hill Coffee & Creamery. Mission Hill Coffee & Creamery is the brainchild of Dave Kumec, a great artisan ice cream maker. This is a must-visit spot, plus it offers a 10% discount for students! Location & hours: 1101B Pacific Ave. in Santa Cruz, noon - 9 p.m.
  • Family-run with homemade ice-cream: Michoacán A Pedir De Boca. This is a wonderful family-run Mexican ice cream shop in downtown Watsonville. With a large menu, it’s hard to decide what to order. Try out its homemade rocky road ice cream that has fluffy marshmallows, almonds and brownie pieces, or the Chocolate de Abuelita Milkshake if you are on the go. Location & hours: 1862 Main St. in Watsonville, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Four unique Santa Cruz spots

The S.S. Palo Alto, also known as the Cement Ship at Seacliff State Beach in Aptos.
The S.S. Palo Alto, also known as the Cement Ship at Seacliff State Beach in Aptos.
(Via New Leaf Community Markets)

Recommended by Lookout intern and Cabrillo College student Aidan Warzecha-Watson

Arguably one of the best parts of Santa Cruz is how unique it is. While there are things that are traditional and could be found in many other cities, here are some off-the-beaten-path things to do in Santa Cruz.

  • MeloMelo Kava Bar, 12 p.m. - 12 a.m.: This downtown bar doesn’t serve alcohol. Instead, it opts for a South Pacific beverage made from kava root. Kava has been traditionally used for ceremonial, recreational and medicinal purposes. MeloMelo combines this traditional drink with a fun, modern, upbeat setting.
  • Roxa Hammock Cafe, 11 a.m - 10 p.m.: As the name suggests, Roxa is the nation’s first cafe to offer the ability to kick back and relax in a hammock. It serves delicious acaí bowls, as well as nonalcoholic elixirs infused with substances the cafe claims enhance your quality of life and wellness.
  • Bigfoot Discovery Museum, Friday through Monday, 1-5 p.m.: Anyone interested in expanding their knowledge on sasquatches should look no further than the Bigfoot Discovery Museum. Located in Felton, the museum combines local bigfoot sightings with local history and includes a detailed exhibit on the Patterson-Gimlin film. For more information, check out a recent Q&A from Max Chun.
  • Cement Ship, sunrise to sunset: The SS Palo Alto, nicknamed the Cement Ship, has a lot of unique history. The ship was originally a tanker built near the end of World War I. The war ended before the tanker could be used, and it was intentionally grounded. The Palo Alto was then used as an entertainment ship, including a dance floor and swimming pool, at the end of the pier in Seacliff until the company that owned her went bankrupt during the Great Depression. The ship was briefly used as a fishing pier but has since deteriorated and is no longer considered safe for public use. The Cement Ship is still a fun sight to see, both from the beach and from the pier.

    Top Santa Cruz thrift shops

    clothes at the goodwill
    (Via Shutterstock)

    Recommended by Lookout intern and Cabrillo College student Aidan Warzecha-Watson

    Each thrift store is a little different, but they all encompass and integrate the Santa Cruz uniqueness into their shops, giving you amazing finds for amazing prices.

    • Grey Bears Thrift Store, 9 a.m - 3:30 p.m. every day: Although it’s a little overwhelming when you first arrive, this Live Oak thrift store offers a treasure trove of items, including clothing, accessories, home goods, plants, appliances and books. When there, make sure you check out the on-site bookstore with really great prices.
    • The Abbot’s Thrift, Monday - Saturday 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sunday noon - 5 p.m.: The Abbot’s Thrift is a nonprofit in Felton that holds many great antiques, collectables and accessories as well as clothing. The staff is extremely friendly, and if you’re lucky you can find and pet the store cat!
    • Thrift Center, Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.: A quintessential thrift store option in town. If you’re looking for some fun items at a cheap price and have the time to search through the racks, you are in for a treat. I’d also like to note that this Midtown spot has a discount colored system, so check what colors are on sale that day.
    • Stop & Shop Family Bargain Center, Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.: Watsonville’s Stop & Shop Family Bargain Center has a great selection of goods, including a vast collection of boots. The owner, Carl, is extremely nice and very helpful when you’re shopping there, also playing good tunes to set a fun tone in the store.
    • Goodwill Central Coast, hours vary by location: One of the best things about Goodwill in Santa Cruz County is the many locations — most likely you will be able to find one close to you. If you are feeling adventurous, check out the Salinas Outlet, where you get a brown bag and pay for your items by the pound.

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