Lighted boat parade
(Sean McLean / Santa Cruz Waves)
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Student Lookout: Firefly Coffee, the Lighted Boat Parade and some holiday shopping recs

Well, hey there, kids (who are basically the same age as me),

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday and time off, even if you didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I had a pretty mellow Turkey Day myself, as I cooked during the day and didn’t do much more than eat and enjoy some drinks with my immediate family and sister, who visited from out of state.

It’s always a balancing act, though. So much good food and only so much room in your stomach. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if you didn’t question whether or not you might have exceeded your stomach’s capacity, if you know what I mean.

If you are a student and haven’t signed up for your FREE Lookout membership yet, enter your phone number below to register. Not only will you get unlimited access to all of Lookout, but you’ll also receive Student Lookout text alerts every Friday with exclusive deals, local recommendations, puzzles and more. So what are you waiting for?

Back to the regularly scheduled programming, then …

Deals Download

Check out these three Santa Cruz student discounts:

Don’t forget to have your student ID to get the discount!


cookie coupon

This December, buy one cookie and get another cookie free at Pacific Cookie Company’s fragrant sugary shop in downtown Santa Cruz. While you’re there, get a gift to bring home for the holidays! Mention Student Lookout and show this screen to the cashier to get your discount.

➤ Want to share these deals with your friends? Have them sign up for Student Lookout texts with this link.

pacific cookie company link to website

Eats on a budget

There are plenty of coffee shops in Santa Cruz, but Firefly Coffee might fly under the radar when compared to some of the bigger names in town. Don’t sleep, though, because both Firefly locations — one right by Kaiser Permanente Arena and one in the industrial area by Dominican Hospital — have both the usual coffee beverages available as well as a variety of bagel flavors, sandwiches and cream cheeses to choose from. If you haven’t checked this place out yet, consider swinging by next time you want some coffee or breakfast on the go.

If you love eating, cooking and reading about food, be sure to check out the work from our local food expert, Lily Belli. This week, she puts the spotlight on Jessica Yarr, the founder of Chicken Foot, the modern Eastern European pop-up. She’ll be serving up dinner at Ulterior above Motiv three nights a week.

Inside Santa Cruz: Holiday shopping ideas from a longtime gifting procrastinator

Recommended by Blaire Hobbs

Raise your hand if you’ve already completed your holiday shopping. I would be impressed with any student who has, but mostly because when I was a student, I left gift-hunting until the last second every year. It feels like another homework assignment, doesn’t it? Even if you intend to give heartfelt and meaningful gifts, sometimes you run out of time and choose something convenient, so you don’t show up empty-handed.

This week, I want to share with you a few gift ideas to cross holiday shopping off your to-do list and ideally make a day of it. Even if you don’t find anything, grab a friend and a cup of coffee for a fun holiday outing.

Holiday shopping events

  • Friday: The Santa Cruz Arts Center, located next to 11th Hour Coffee, is hosting an artisan fair during First Friday from 5-9 p.m. Pick up a coffee or a cocktail, listen to live music and find some locally made art, jewelry, and crafts. I highly recommend arriving hungry so you can get a ramen bowl or dumpling plate from Full Steam Dumpling, located inside 11th Hour Coffee.
  • Saturday: If you miss out on First Friday, don’t worry — you can hit up another artisan fair downtown on Saturday with the holiday-themed makers market. Max has the details below in the Around Town BOLO events. Just a quick heads up — the market follows the holiday parade, so expect parking to be tricky!
  • Sunday: Still couldn’t make it to these holiday fairs? Head to Norrie’s Gift Shop and Garden Holiday Open House on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for more handmade gifts, goods and treasures. If you haven’t visited the UCSC Arboretum yet, this is also a great opportunity to do a self-guided tour!

Downtown stores

  • For more local and handmade goods, check out the Homeless Garden Project store and Go Ask Alice. My favorite gift ideas include a felted mushroom garland from Go Ask Alice and the strawberry sugar scrub from the Homeless Garden Project. I don’t have a beard, but I have also gifted the hair and beard oil to my partner (from HGP) and received a thumbs up. Go Ask Alice is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and has a 10% off student discount. The Homeless Garden Project store is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. every day.
  • Looking for gifts of the more whimsical variety? Check out Bookshop Santa Cruz and Paper Vision. They have everything from funny socks to clever toys to unique artsy posters, not to mention books! For all you Slugs out there, Bookshop Santa Cruz also fulfills all your UCSC merch needs. Bookshop Santa Cruz is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, while Paper Vision is open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.
discount on go ask Alice store

Puzzle Center

Around Town - Events

Did you know that we have an events calendar? BOLO, which stands for Be On the Lookout, is our hub for the best events in the county. See all the listings here.

Here are upcoming events we think students need to know about:

Friday, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
First Friday at Treehouse Dispensary
Even if you don’t plan to buy anything cannabis-related at Treehouse, you can still stop by for a cool mix of deals, live music, local arts and crafts on display and an appearance by La Patrona Mexicana Comida food truck. The special deals run all day, so even if you can’t be there in the evening when the event takes place, you can still get some discounted product, if you so desire.

Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History’s winter open house
Get ready for the holidays with a low-key open house at the Museum of Natural History across from Seabright Beach. There’s free admission all day with nature crafts from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., where you can make your own decorations and pick up some local goods as well. It’s worth stopping by if you’re around midtown.

Saturday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Downtown Santa Cruz Makers Market Holiday Pop-Up
It’s really that time of year, isn’t it? Get started on (or continue) your holiday shopping this weekend with the Downtown Santa Cruz Makers Market Holiday Pop-up. It’s more or less the same set up as the makers markets that Santa Cruzans know and love, just holiday-centric. A great opportunity to shop local this season! Also, the downtown holiday parade will start at 10 a.m., so get there early if you want to check it out.

Saturday, 5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Lighted Boat Parade
Check out a long-running Santa Cruz tradition on Saturday as more than 50 boats will coast through the harbor, decorated with tons of lights and other holiday decorations. The event is free, but be sure to get there early so you can find parking!

➤ Want more? If you’re still looking for great things to do, check out Wallace Baine’s Weekender here.

More local jobs: Browse more open positions on the Lookout Job Board.

One last thing …

Did you know? The lighted boat parade in Santa Cruz is hosted by the Santa Cruz Yacht Club. The club was founded around 1925, when local bankers Bruce Sharpe and Charlie Towne began sailing their new 14-foot cat boat on Monterey Bay.

boat with holiday lights
(Santa Cruz Yacht Club)

It appears that it’s time for us to wrap it up. Remember that we’ll be releasing only one more edition of Student Lookout next week — and maybe one more abridged edition the following week — so you can all enjoy your winter breaks without me invading your inbox too much.

Please send any content suggestions my way! Until next time.

— Max

If you have recommendations on places we should feature next week, pass them along and we’ll send you a free Lookout T-shirt. Email your ideas to