Bookshop Santa Cruz is a favorite in this area. For many years it was located in an historic building downtown, but that building, and many others, collapsed in the 1989 earthquake. The shop relocated to a new building and maintained its original atmosphere as much as possible, staying away from just the big publisher lists and promoting local and international authors. They also have a used book section and the best variety of periodicals and newspapers in the area. The book store has been able to sustain itself against a newer, huge US chain bookstore that opened down the street. They often have readings from local authors and poets.
This is a great outlet shop to check out for good quality clothes and other items from the Patagonia line. Like other outlets, the variety and quantity of items changes frequently, but there are weekly specials posted out front. We stop here every once in a while just to see what is available.
What to buy: If you know Patagonia's products, then you know that they are somewhat expensive. This is a good place to find whatever you are looking for at a more affordable price. Clothes for men, women and children are the key items, all with Patagonia's outdoorsy feel and look.
New Leaf is THE place to shop if you want to mix with the locals or pick up some goods for a picnic. This local chain has provided the community with quality groceries and local goods for years. By catering to the local community, that means a wide variety of organic foods and locally produced goods. This is the perfect place to stop if you want to make your own lunch or bring something for a hike or trip to the beach.
The downtown location is in the old Bank of America building - unique for a grocery store.
Bookshop Santa Cruz is a local landmark and one of Northern California's most widely celebrated independent bookstores, up there along with City Lights in San Francisco. You'll find almost anything here, from politics to fiction, from the latest foreign music zines to maps of Slovakia. The Bookshop is also frequented by guest speakers, literary groups, people of all ages, and a devoted customer base.
What to buy: You can books, maps, cards, magazines, and almost anything else that's related to written word. A small coffee shop is also attatched to the bookstore, meaning you can buy the New York Times in the lobby and move over to a table to drink your latte.
Pacific Ave. is Santa Cruz's cultural and economic hypocenter and is worth a look if you want to go out to shop, see a movie, or eat. Numerous cafes, two movie theaters, bookstores, restaurants, independent and chain stores line the street, with a eclectic street clientele of is-it-still-1967-? hippies, Silicon Valley yuppies, goths, senior groups, foeign tourists, activists and students walking out and about. There are few places like downtown Santa Cruz, and is worth an hour or two to explore, shop, or just people watch.