Beaches, Barbecue and Free Concerts at the Crow’s Nest

Crow's Nest Beach Party
The Crow’s Nest Summer Beach Parties are quite possibly the quintessential Santa Cruz summer event.

Every Thursday during the summer you’ll find free live music, great barbecued food, idyllic beachside views, and a healthy slice of Santa Cruz life.

2016 Thursday Night Beach Parties

crow's nestThis year, beach parties are every Thursday from June 2nd through September 1st. The fun starts at 5:30 and continues until the sun sets…and then the fun heads upstairs.

What To Expect

The Crow’s Nest Beach Party is one of the best social events in town and the yearly arrival of beach party season is the signal to many that summer is officially underway.

The events start at 5:30 p.m. and last until the sun starts to dip below the waterline of the horizon, which creates an artistic backdrop as the sun disappears beyond the lighthouse.

The smell of tri tip, chicken and Portabella mushrooms wafts through the air while the rhythmic sounds of the water and the buzz of conversation fill the beachside space in front of the Crow’s Nest. Seating is provided on the beach, though it is limited and fills up quickly.

With reasonably priced food and drinks, free admission, beach views and live music, the Crow’s Nest Beach Party captures the spirit of the Santa Cruz community.

The musical guests are typically local bands like Extra Large, Ribsy’s Nickel and SambaDá.

Great Views From the Harbor

Harbor view from Crow's NestThe food, music, dancing and socializing are great, but the setting is what makes these events so unique.

What’s better than a great party?

How about a great party with sand beneath your feet, a cool summer breeze and the Walton lighthouse and boats drifting in and out of the harbor as your backdrop.

If watching the boats sail by isn’t your cup of tea, you can join in on the fun by taking to the water yourself. The Chardonnay II, Santa Cruz’s iconic 70 foot yacht, offers 2-hour long specially priced cruises that coincide with the Thursday evening beach parties.

Family Friendly Event

Thursday Night Beach Party at the Crow's NestYou’re as likely to see children and retirees dancing in the sand as you are college students and young professionals. It truly is an event for all ages.

The food selection includes several different sandwich options for around $10. You can choose from trip tip, Portabella mushroom, or chicken sandwiches. Hamburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs are also available, as well as prawns and ribs if you want something a little different.

Parking, Traffic and Crowds

Parking and traffic can be a struggle at any event in Santa Cruz and the Crow’s Nest Beach Party is no exception. The best option is to walk, or ride a bike. The Crow’s Nest has paid parking, but the lot fills up quickly. You can park south of the harbor if you have a Live Oak parking permit, but be prepared for a walk from the car.

There are metered spots on the north side of the harbor, and from there you can catch the water taxi that operates during the Thursday night beach parties. There are four stops which you can see here.

If you miss a Thursday night beach party, there’s always Friday Night Bands on the Beach over at the Boardwalk…or next Thursday.

The Crow’s Nest
2218 East Cliff Dr.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Thursdays, from Memorial Day through Labor Day
5:30 – Sunset

Photo and Video Credit: Joshua Vincent

About Joshua Vincent

Joshua Vincent is a freelance writer who has lived in Santa Cruz for 12 years. Follow his tweets at @VincentChirps.