Expansive beaches. Surf culture. Boardwalk thrills. University life. Majestic redwoods. Eclectic downtown. There isn’t just one scene that represents what it’s like to live in the city of Santa Cruz, one of California’s most sought-after real estate markets. From oceanside to mountain tops, each of the Santa Cruz neighborhoods has a distinct flavor. With so many options, how do you pick the best one when you’re shopping for your dream home for sale in Santa Cruz?
We’re here to help! Let’s explore some of the most coveted communities…
One of our favorite spots on the Lower West Side is the scenic walking and biking path along West Cliff Drive with epic views of Monterey Bay. The path ends at the breathtaking Natural Bridges State Beach, where you might catch sight of migrating monarchs in surrounding eucalyptus trees. Single-family homes dominate this neighborhood, which is conveniently close – but not too close – to the boardwalk and main Santa Cruz beach, Lighthouse Point, and downtown. Buyers lucky enough to find a Santa Cruz home for sale on West Cliff Drive enjoy panoramic ocean views and stunning sunsets. Locals especially love romping with their pups at Its Beach (which locals rightfully call “Dog Beach”) and watching surfers ride the waves at famous Steamer Lane below the lighthouse.
The Upper West Side is where you’ll find UC Santa Cruz, a.k.a. the “City on a Hill.” Just outside the university is a neighborhood mix of detached single-family homes, condos, and student apartments. We love the diverse architecture of ranchers, Victorians, Craftsmans, and hillside homes with sweeping city and coastal views. Residents enjoy easy access to Highway 1 and the Pogonip Open Space Preserve, which has 640 acres of open meadows, woodlands, creeks, and trails.
Downtown is the vibrant center of Santa Cruz life. Stroll out your door to bookshops, restaurants, live music venues, shopping, and so much more. Our favorite residential streets are lined with historic Victorians and Craftsman homes. Downtown Santa Cruz has a suburban/urban vibe, depending on how close you live to the downtown outdoor shopping district, the Pacific Garden Mall.
This coveted east Santa Cruz neighborhood sits between the San Lorenzo River and Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor. Seabright’s residential streets are filled with cute cottages, updated bungalows, and newer estates that are steps from Seabright Beach, cafés, breweries, nightlife, and more. For a fun family stroll in lower Seabright, walk across the old railroad trestle bridge to the historic Santa Cruz boardwalk or the river walkway.
Next to Seabright is the Twin Lakes neighborhood. If you want a home that’s steps from a long sandy beach, picturesque harbor, and choice restaurants, then Twin Lakes is the best east Santa Cruz neighborhood for you. You’ll find quintessential beach bungalows and custom-built beauties with views of the ocean or peaceful Schwan Lagoon, which is surrounded by eucalyptus and home to graceful egrets and other water fowl. Our perfect Twin Lakes day starts with a morning jolt from Verve Coffee Roasters and ends with a relaxing sunset dinner at The Crow’s Nest overlooking the yacht harbor.
Of course, there are many more Santa Cruz neighborhoods and micro-communities to explore. If you want to see your options or find homes for sale in Santa Cruz, please reach out anytime!