.Best of Santa Cruz County 2022: Music & Nightlife

The best local band, dance club, new brewery and more

Best Dance Club

Blue Lagoon

1. This year, the Blue Lagoon celebrates its 41st anniversary as downtown’s go-to nightclub. It’s operated under the same owners since it opened. 
2. While shaking your booty on the dance floor, you can check out the not-so-hidden sculptured faces and butts watching your moves from the pillars. 
3. Like several other establishments along Pacific Avenue, the Blue Lagoon has a basement accessible only by staff.
4. Several bartenders claim that the basement is haunted.
5. Not just a dance club, on any given night, patrons can see live performances by local and touring rock, metal, country and hip-hop acts. It’s also been the home of Santa Cruz’s longest-running comedy troupe, the Blue Lagoonies, for 17 years. MAT WEIR

The 2022 Best Dance Club: Blue Lagoon. Sculptured faces and butts watch your moves from the pillars.

Best Live Music

Moe’s Alley

1. 2022 marks Moe’s Alley’s seventh consecutive win for Best Live Music Venue.
2. Moe’s opened in 1992; in 2021, in 2021, Lisa Norelli and Brian Ziel bought it from longtime owner Bill Welch.
3. Best friends, Norelli and Ziel, had dreamed of owning a venue together for years.
4. Before it was Moe’s Alley, the building was other clubs–including Mona’s Gorilla Lounge and Cha Cha’s, where local legends like Camper Van Beethoven and BL’AST! played. 
5. Moe’s hosts around 240 shows a year, featuring musicians like blues rocker Sue Foley (pictured below), reggae legends Israel Vibration and the Don Was-fronted pop outfit Was (Not Was). MAT WEIR

Best New Brewery

Woodhouse Blending and Brewing

1. Co-founders William Moxham, Mike Rodriguez and Ken Kieffer are lifelong friends. They grew up together in Kansas City, Missouri. 
2. Before Woodhouse, head brewer Mike Rodriguez won multiple awards at the World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Fest, the largest commercial brewing competition in the United States. 
3. They have at least 12 different beers on tap in their tasting room at any given time.
4. The brewery hosts an array of live entertainment featuring bands spanning every musical genre. 
5. Their upcoming Barrel Program will give members access to a wide variety of limited, artisan-crafted barrel-aged brews. MAT WEIR



Brady’s Yacht Club

413 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-9854, facebook.com/BYC1933
RUNNERS-UP Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen, Parish Publick House


Danna Meek @ Venus Spirits

RUNNERS-UP Josh Youngblood @ Oswald, Aaron @ JJs

Comedy Spot 

DNA’s Comedy Lab

155 S. River St., Santa Cruz, 900-5123, dnascomedylab.com
RUNNERS-UP The Crow’s Nest, Greater Purpose Brewing Company 

Craft Brewer (Local)

Humble Sea Brewery

820 Swift St., Santa Cruz, 621-2890, humblesea.com
RUNNERS-UP Discretion Brewing, Sante Adairius Rustic Ales

Dance Club

Blue Lagoon 

923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-7117
RUNNERS-UP Moe’s Alley, Motiv

Fancy Cocktails

Venus Spirits Cocktails & Kitchen

200 High Road, Santa Cruz, 600-7376, venusspirits.com
RUNNERS-UP 515 Kitchen & Cocktails, Front & Cooper

Happy Hour

Crow’s Nest Restaurant

2218 E. Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 476-4560, crowsnest-santacruz.com
RUNNERS-UP Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room, Shadowbrook Restaurant


Boardwalk Bowl/Coasters Bar & Grill

115 Cliff St., Santa Cruz, 426-3324, boardwalkbowl.com/coasters-bar-grill
RUNNERS-UP The Blue Lounge, Britannia Arms

Live Music

Moe’s Alley

1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz, 479-1854, moesalley.com
RUNNERS-UP Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Michael’s On Main 
2022 Best Live Music: Moe’s Alley. Moe’s hosts around 240 shows a year, featuring artists like blues rocker Sue Foley.

Local Band

Jive Machine

RUNNERS-UP Santa Cruda, Coffis Brothers

Local Comedian


RUNNERS-UP Sam Weber, Richard Stockton

Local Musician

Morgen Smith

RUNNERS-UP Alex Lucero, James Durbin


El Palomar 

1336 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-7575, elpalomarsantacruz.com
RUNNERS-UP Tortilla Flats, Margaritaville

New Brewery

Woodhouse Blending & Brewing

119 Madrone St., Santa Cruz, woodhousebrews.com
RUNNER-UP Greater Purpose Brewing Company, Humble Sea Brewery

Place to Play Pool

Fast Eddy’s 

4300 Capitola Road, Capitola, 462-1882
RUNNERS-UP Surf City Billiards, One Double Oh Seven Club

Place to Play Darts

One Double Oh Seven Club

1007 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 425-9589
RUNNERS-UP Surf City Billiards, Fast Eddy’s 


Parish Publick House

841 Almar Ave., Santa Cruz, 421-0507; 8017 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 708-2036, theparishpublick.com
RUNNERS-UP Britannia Arms 

Tap Room

Beer Thirty

2504 S. Main St., Soquel, 477-9967, beerthirtysantacruz.com
RUNNERS-UP Lupulo Craft Beer House, West End Tap & Kitchen


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