Downtown Santa Cruz has several movie theaters. The newest and most popular is the multiplex located conveniently on Pacific Avenue. Here you will find the blockbusters and other new releases.
More highly regarded by locals are two other movie theaters downtown: the Nick and the Del Mar. The Nickelodian is revered for its independent nature and spirit, showing foreign and independent films all the time. Faithful patrons have been going here for years, and when the big, new theater was proposed to be build downtown in the rebuilding after the 1989 earthquake, many opposed it fearing the Nick would be driven out of business. Not to fear, the community has a large enough of a viewing base to support the big theater while keeping the Nick in business.
The historic Del Mar Theater downtown shows good films and manages to stay in business also. It's been remodeled, but retains much of the feel of its earlier days.
Pacific Avenue runs from the Santa Cruz Wharf through the center of town just below the Mission. This is the heart of the city's shopping, dining, and nightlife district with some 200 shops plus numerous bars and restaurants of all kinds. We had lunch at Rosie McCann's Irish Pub and coffee at Starbucks, both on Pacific. We also stopped at the very friendly information booth on Pacific to pick up some maps and get some ideas for things to do in town.
13 of the city's 17 downtown lots offer free parking. We used the Cathcart Lot between Cathcart and Lincoln at the center of Pacific, where there is a three-hour time limit. Metered parking is in effect seven days a week (except holidays).
Down Pacific Ave, only several blocks from the beach, is Downtown Santa Cruz. This is a wonderful walking downtown, full of that funky, offbeat, Santa Cruz character. Bookstores galore, every type of cuisine imaginable, pubs and live music, artsy coffeeshops, and, of course, those wonderful and zany street hippies and musicians. This town is great for the free spirit.