Santa Cruz is a vibrant coastal city that offers a wide range of exciting nightlife, which keeps you occupied your entire holiday. After a filling dinner, you can try solving puzzles in an escape room before heading to a lively nightclub or genuine Irish pub for a few drinks. 

    If you have kids in tow, Santa Cruz has many old-fashioned teahouses and ice cream parlours, as well as fun indoor games and marine wildlife viewing. There's more waiting for you to explore, so check out our guide to the best things to do after dinner in Santa Cruz. 

    1

    EXIT Santa Cruz

    Test your puzzle-solving skills

    • Nightlife
    • Families
    • Adventure
    • Group

    EXIT Santa Cruz is an escape room that's great for team and relationship building, developing puzzle-solving skills and, of course, a fun time. The rooms are designed by an avid gamer and a psychology professor. 

    As a result, the challenges you’ll face will be rather difficult, unusual, and entertaining with twists and turns you never saw coming. EXIT Santa Cruz is in Pacifc Avenue, around a 15-minute walk of Cowell Beach. 

    Location: 816 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Phone: +1 831-316-4874

    Map
    2

    The Catalyst

    Dance and party the night away

    • Nightlife

    The Catalyst is, in many ways, the heart and soul of Santa Cruz’ nightlife, live music, and party scene. Over the years, the nightclub has hosted notable artists such as Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Janis Joplin, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Pearl Jam, Tom Petty, Nirvana, and Iggy Pop. 

    The Catalyst has a massive 5,000-sq-ft main hall that can hold up to 800 people. Resident DJs spin the latest tracks on nights when no major acts are playing in the venue. 

    Location: 1011 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Open: Daily from 5 pm to 2 am

    Phone: +1 831-429-4135

    Map

    photo by John (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    Penny Ice Creamery

    For organic ice creams with seasonal flavours

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Families

    Penny Ice Creamery is a walk-up store that offers organic ice creams made from scratch and sourced using local ingredients. The treats come in small batches and seasonal flavours, so what you’re getting is always fresh and always artisanal. 

    All of the ingredients are sustainably grown and produced, as the owners are truly passionate about what they do. Penny Ice Creamery has a rather rustic setting, while the staff is very friendly and casual. 

    Location: 913 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Open: Daily from noon to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 832-204-2523

    Map
    4

    Neptune's Kingdom

    Play mini-golf at this nautical-themed centre

    • Nightlife
    • Families
    • Adventure

    Neptune’s Kingdom is a family-friendly entertainment centre that’s all decked out with a nautical theme. The Buccaneer Bay Miniature Golf is a major draw, consisting of a 2-story, 18-hole course. You can hit the Smuggler’s Arcade for classic arcade games. 

    Head for the Captain’s Game Deck to enjoy ping-pong, air hockey, and foosball, or the Cannonball Fun & Games area for skee ball and carnival-style games. Neptune’s Kingdom is located in the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. 

    Location: 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 8 pm, Friday–Sunday from 11 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 831-423-5590

    Map

    photo by daveynin (CC BY 2.0) modified

    5

    Hidden Peak Teahouse

    A great place to disconnect and relax in Santa Cruz

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    Hidden Peak Teahouse is where you can reconnect in a way that too many of us have forgotten: in person. This traditional Asian-style teahouse doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, making it a great option for when you want to have a digital detox. 

    You can opt for a pot of tea or take part in a full, 3-hour traditional tea ceremony to help reset your body and mind. Hidden Peak Teahouse is in Pacific Avenue, about 1.2 miles northwest of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

    Location: 1541 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11 am to 9 pm, Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 9.30 pm

    Phone: +1 831-423-4200

    Map
    6

    Landmark's Nickelodeon Theatre

    Catch an indie film this independent cinema

    • Nightlife
    • Couples
    • Families

    Landmark's Nickelodeon Theatre dates back to 1969, making it one of the oldest cinemas in California. It showcases foreign and indie films, as well as the latest releases. You can also catch special events, such as filmed versions of the Globe, Royal Opera House, National Theatre Live, and Royal Shakespeare Company. 

    For something a bit more eclectic, stop by Landmark's Nickelodeon Theatre to enjoy a classic cult film during its Midnight Film series on Fridays and Saturdays.

    Location: 210 Lincoln St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Phone: +1 831-359-4523

    Map
    7

    Santa Cruz Wharf

    See sea lions resting on rocks offshore

    • Food
    • Nightlife
    • Couples
    • Families

    The Santa Cruz Wharf is renowned for boat tours and fishing excursions, as well as shopping, dining, and nightlife options. One of the most popular attractions is the chance to see sea lions in their native habitat. 

    You'll hardly run out of things to do in and around the pier, from enjoying a round of bocce to renting a kayak. The Santa Cruz Wharf is right between the vibrant Santa Cruz Boardwalk and Steamer Lane, the city's prominent surf spot. 

    Location: 21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Open: Daily from 5 am to 2 am

    Phone: +1 831-420-5725

    Map

    photo by Runner1928 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    8

    Moe's Alley

    Catch quality performances by up-and-coming local musicians

    • Nightlife

    Moe’s Alley is a prominent live music bar in Santa Cruz. It houses a music hall with a full dancefloor, a bar, patio, along with a regular lineup of local and national musicians. From country to rock, funk and soul, and eclectic electronica, this club has hosted it all. 

    If you're feeling peckish, Moe’s Alley has a food lorry selling light fare right by its entrance. The venue is adults only, so it's great for those looking to enjoy a night away from the kids. 

    Location: 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Phone: +1 831-479-1854

    Map
    9

    Kuumbwa Jazz Centre

    Go back to the 1920s with live music

    • Nightlife

    Kuumbwa Jazz Centre is a performing arts hall that hosts modern jazz acts in a traditional atmosphere. It aims to provide locals and travellers the opportunity to appreciate the full range of jazz music. 

    The venue is decked out in earth tones and period decor, resulting in a relaxing vibe that'll make you feel like you're back in the 1920s. Kuumbwa Jazz Centre has been a Santa Cruz landmark since 1975. It hosts over 130 concerts every year and supports over 1,000 students with its extensive programmes.

    Location: 320-2 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 5 pm (closed on Saturdays and Sundays)

    Phone: +1 837-427-2227

    Map

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    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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