Skip to main content

Best Places to Get a Sweet Treat in Santa Cruz

Best Places to Get a Sweet Treat in Santa Cruz

Satisfy your sweet tooth by visiting one of the many delicious places to grab a treat in Santa Cruz.


5 min read

April 11, 2023

Amy Jeske is a local Santa Cruz realtor that knows the area like the back of her hand. Making the move to a new town can be an intimidating experience, Jeske makes things easy with a wealth of experience and ensures every relocation is as smooth as can be. Amy Jeske is a member of the Recommended Business Program.

When it’s time to indulge, you can’t go wrong with a decadent dessert of sweet chocolatey, creamy goodness. Fortunately, those with a sweet tooth will be happy to know that Santa Cruz is full of great places to satiate your hunger for a sweet treat. This central California seaside city is a great place to score a banana split or any other sweet treat you can think of. 

The combination of Santa Cruz’s chill seaside vibes, charming downtown core, vintage scenic boardwalk, and wealth of great bakeries and ice creameries make dessert in Santa Cruz a uniquely wonderful experience every time. It is no exaggeration that you can find any kind of luxuriant dessert here you can think of. Let’s look at some of the top places for dessert in Santa Cruz. 

Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria

Location: 504 Bay Avenue, Capitola, CA 95010

Hours: open every day, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Welcome to one of the premier bakeries in Santa Cruz. Gayle’s Bakery and Rosticceria is pretty much one of the closest things you’ll find in Santa Cruz to an authentic Parisian patisserie, and that’s not just because it has a wonderfully chic interior featuring walls adorned with colorful artwork. Gayle’s also has a menu to match and offers beautiful cakes, tempting strawberry tarts, supple bread, chocolate croissants, tasty sub sandwiches, healthy salads to go, and of course, quality coffee. Much like a true patisserie, Gayle’s has a good balance between decadent and healthy, making it a great place for dessert in Santa Cruz. We recommend coming early to get some of their authentic Breton-style Kouign-Amann fresh out of the oven.      

Enjoy scrumptious Parisian-style confectionaries at Gayle’s Bakery and Rosticceria.

The Buttery

Location: 702 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95062

Hours: bakery is open daily, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cafe closes at 1:45 p.m. 

Opening its doors for the first time in 1984, The Buttery is a great place for dessert in downtown Santa Cruz. The Buttery is both a bakery and a cafe, so you can pop in, grab a pastry, and be on your way, or sit down for a nice lunch. The Buttery’s bakery specializes in exquisite cakes of all varieties, so you should try a slice of one of its many chocolate cakes. 

They’ve got everything from chocolate coconut to chocolate cheesecake. If delectable light pastries and great coffee are more your thing, the Buttery has got you covered with a colorful range of cupcakes, croissants, and tarts. In addition to its cozy indoor seating areas, The Buttery also has an outdoor seating area perfect for enjoying the many sunny days of Santa Cruz.  

Marianne’s Ice Cream 

Location: 1020 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Hours: open Sunday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. 

Marianne's Ice Cream is the way to go for a creamy dessert in Santa Cruz from a well-established local chain. Marianne’s has been around since 1947 and has been devoted from the get-go to the mission of making the best ice cream in town. It's fair to say they’ve succeeded in this mission because Marianne’s has since become a Santa Cruz institution. The original store at the Ocean Street location is still going strong as the top spot for dessert near downtown.

As a vintage ice cream parlor with charming retro decor, Marianne’s is always innovating with new recipes and flavors to expand its range of offerings. In the early days, they had about 13 flavors, but today Marianne’s offers a veritable wealth of 105 original ice cream flavors, including twelve chocolate flavors and an amazing 16 vanilla varieties. Any flavor you can imagine, chances are Marianne’s has it. Irish coffee and chocolate chip? Check. Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough? Check. Marianne’s Chocolate and Cheese? Check!

Recomended businesses

Show me
Recommended Businesses near

Discover the best of California. Our recommended businesses are top-quality and are committed to their communities.
Marianne’s offers 105 different ice cream flavors and is always imagining new exciting combinations.

Top Donuts

Location: Watsonville Square Shopping Center, 1892 Main Street, Watsonville, CA 95076

Hours: open every day, 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Anyone who loves donuts, including locals from Monterey Bay and visitors alike, will love this place. Top Donuts is king for desserts in Santa Cruz because, as the name implies, it is at the top of its game in the world of donuts. Top Donuts may not have 100 options, but its menu is short and sweet and includes all the classics you’d expect a donut place to have. Crullers, sugar-glazed jelly donuts, munchkins, and much more can be enjoyed with a cup of hot joe. Located in the bustling Watsonville Square Shopping Center, this local bakery in Santa Cruz features a cozy vintage interior that will take you right back to a simpler time. Support local Santa Cruz businesses and stop by for a dozen (or two) on your way to the Santa Cruz boardwalk.      

Donnelly Chocolates 

Location: 1509 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Hours: Open every day from 12 to 6 p.m.

Donnelly’s is a local Santa Cruz business specializing in handmade chocolates, pastries, and ice cream bars. If you’d like to buy a dessert in Santa Cruz and bring it back home as a gift, this is your place, as Donnelly’s sells delightful boxes of some of the best chocolates, pastries, and ice cream bars you’ve ever had. Everything is made with the freshest of ingredients and is very decadently chocolatey. You can enjoy classics like milk chocolate bars with almonds or try something extra tasty and fancy like chocolate with juicy dried apricots. Donnelly’s always has something new in store, so a new exciting experience awaits every time you enter this delightful high-end chocolatier.

Look no further than Top Donuts for a heavenly assortment of classic donut varieties.

The Farm Bakery, Cafe & Gifts 

Location: 6790 Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA 95003

Hours: Open Sunday to Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This locally famous family place for dessert in Santa Cruz has been putting out deluxe pastries and desserts since 1976. The Farm Bakery has made a name for itself thanks to its infusion of down-to-earth homestyle baking in everything it makes, bringing that warm homely feeling to its fruit tarts or other heartwarming pastries. As the name implies, The Farm operates in a serene rural area just outside of Santa Cruz in a beautiful farmhouse-style building with plenty of room for everyone.

All this makes The Farm feel like a true home away from home, a place you can treasure and come back to again and again. If you decide to visit The Farm, try its one-of-a-kind chocolate raspberry tarts or its generous apple pie slices, as they are simply must-haves.  

The Farm is famous for its homely desserts and warm family atmosphere, making it a home away from home.


Location: 1522 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Hours: Open Monday to Friday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 9 p.m.

Since it’s in downtown Santa Cruz, Chocolate’s nice central location put it within walking distance of all the city’s main landmarks, including its beaches, the Santa Cruz Wharf, and of course, the iconic boardwalk. This glorious place for dessert in Santa Cruz features outdoor seating just like an Italian cafe, complete with a nice shade and plenty of biophilic decors. But the Italian excellence doesn’t stop there. 

Regarding dessert places downtown, Chocolate is a solid choice if you’re in the mood for some antipasto or, indeed, something dolce (sweet). Chocolate’s diverse menu includes crispy cannoli, large cupcakes served with whipped cream and ganache, and dark chocolate Ectasy gelato sundaes. Whatever tantalizing dessert in Santa Cruz you go for at Chocolate, grab some hot chocolate topped generously with decadent whipped cream to go with it. 

Need help with a home improvement project? Get a free quote today!

Enter Your Zip Code

Enter Your Zip Code

RELATED Articles

Discover More

fueled by the power of California love
We're committed to helping you discover the places, people and businesses that make our state Golden. Our online publication, updated daily, brings you all the content you need to live your California dreams. And that's just the beginning…
Purpose section
Purpose section