On the eve of yet another nor’easter blanketing New York with a pristine white coat of snow, and with spring still months away, we just had to search for warmer climes and some sun to soak up, even if just for a few days. Having recently discovered the low-key charm and natural beauty of Santa Cruz just a short drive south of San Fransisco, we booked a room on the beach overlooking the stunning Monterey Bay at the classic Dream Inn.
You can’t get more central than the Dream Inn. Towering above Santa Cruz’s boardwalk and central pier, it puts you right in the middle of the action and just a short walk to the town center a few blocks east.
California Dreaming in Santa Cruz
The hotel is composed of two sections, a tower and a lower building containing the hotel’s original rooms, the pool, and restaurant. We opted for the tower, or as the hotel refers to it, “the executive wing”. The executive wing is distinguished by its larger rooms, king-sized beds and … the brilliant views. In fact, if you request a king-sized bed you will be booked in one of the executive rooms by default. However, if being steps from water is more your style, ask for one of the original rooms and enjoy the easy access to beach and pool.
Also near the pool is the O’Neill Lounge, aptly named because it stands approximately on the site of the worlds first “Surf Shop” founded in the ’50s by legendary surfing pioneer and innovator Jack O’Neill. The ocean water in Santa Cruz is a little on the cold side with the coastline subject to currents emanating from the north. Looking for ways to make surfing a year-round activity in Santa Cruz, Jack cobbled together some new “high-tech” materials to create what we now know as a wetsuit. Yeah! it came from Santa Cruz.
Looking east and west from the hotel you can see the popular surf spots with devotees catching the waves for hours at a time. That would not be possible without Mr. O’Neill’s brilliant invention. Jack also invented the surfboard leash, another indispensable tool for the modern surfer.
We targeted the O’Neill Lounge for breakfast to enjoy the amazing morning light and a front row seat to observe the West-Side surfers catching a few waves before work.
You can easily take in Santa Cruz on foot, but if you prefer a faster mode of transport, try one of the Dream Inn’s complimentary bikes. These are perfect for a quick trip east along the boardwalk or over to the West-Side beaches to watch the waves and surfers.
If you are heading west, check out the Surf Museum just under a mile from the hotel. Did you know that surfing in the Americas started in Santa Cruz? Yes, it all began around 1855 when three visiting Hawaiian princes had surfboards carved from the local redwood and hit the waves to the delight of the locals. See one of their boards and read about this and the rest of Santa Cruz’s colorful surfing history at the tiny Surf Museum.
With the icy East Coast now a distant memory and the sun setting over the Pacific, our trip drew to a close. But what a great and easy getaway from winter’s grip on the East Coast.
For its outstanding location the Dream Inn is a great value. Check their site regularly for specials and make your getaway to Santa Cruz, especially in the offseason.
Planning a trip to Santa Cruz? Here is the current weather and what to expect for the next few days.53°clear64% humiditywind: 7mph NEH 70 • L 4971°Wed72°Thu74°Fri72°Sat70°SunWeather from Yahoo!