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Santa Cruz's West Side

Bustling Santa Cruz, Calif., offers a quiet, lesser-known district filled with eateries, galleries, and shops.

espresso drink at Kelly’s French Bakery, Santa Cruz
Photo caption
Kelly’s French Bakery in Santa Cruz is known for its rich espresso drinks and flaky pastries.

Lighthouse Point, Steamer Lane, the city beach, and the Boardwalk—these legendary hot spots bring weekend visitors cruising into Santa Cruz, Calif., off Highways 1 and 17. Yet most seekers of surf and sand bypass the city’s quiet west side, a former industrial zone off Mission Street that’s now seeing an influx of cafés, galleries, and shops. Area code is 831.

  • Frans Lanting Gallery showcases the work of naturalist Frans Lanting, whose brilliant color photographs—many shot for National Geographic—make art of such sights as a spinner dolphin surfacing near Hawaii or tortoises mud-bathing in the Galápagos. You can buy fine prints, calendars, posters, and books. 207 McPherson St., 429-1331,
  • In the Swift Street Commons, once a packing plant for brussels sprouts, look for Kelly’s French Bakery. Patrons line up to savor languid breakfasts and lunches on a sunny patio beneath market umbrellas. Try a twice-baked potato or freshly made chicken potpie. 402 Ingalls St., 423-9059.
  • At Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, just around the corner, sample a spectrum of righteous microbrews—pale ale to brown ale and stout, all certified organic. 402 Ingalls St., 425-4900.
  • Wave-riding legend Doug Haut of Haut Custom Surfboards still shapes his sleek creations by hand, as he has since the 1960s. Even if you’ve never dreamed of shredding waves, Haut’s cramped showroom, with its racks of shiny boards and displays of dated oldies, offers you an inside view of a durable coastal culture. 345 Swift St., 426-7874,
  • Turn on to Timothy Leary’s Politics of Ecstasy and tune in to another Santa Cruz vibe at Westside Stories, in a plain-vanilla shopping center. First editions, offbeat subjects, low-key setting—it’s a great spot to drop out before a trip downtown or to the beach. 847 Almar Ave., 457-2021.

Photography by Sean Arbabi

This article was first published in January 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.