Watch the video from our visit.
By Jill Klosterman, Travel Correspondent
Intimate Bed-and-Breakfast Overlooking Monterey Bay
As Darrell Darling reads aloud some of his poetry from a softcover notebook, guests at the breakfast table listen in rapt attention, their warm croissants cooling on painted china plates. Darrell is both the proprietor and unofficial poet-in-residence at The Darling House, a bed-and-breakfast where, as his daughter Denise explains, the owners "welcome folks from all over the world with open arms and warm hearts."
Starting at dawn, rainbows stream though The Darling House's prism-glass windows, one of the many eye-grabbing architectural features dreamed up by William Weeks, who designed the Spanish Revival–style mansion in 1910. The house's other charms include carved columns, wood inlays, and open beam ceilings. Six ornately appointed guest rooms (the B & B's seventh room, the Spanish Mission room, is not available with this Groupon) feature hardwood floors and a number of thoughtful touches, such as fresh-cut flowers. Each decorated hideaway possesses its own attributes to recommend it—the Chinese room, for instance, boasts a bed draped in gold-threaded silk, and the Monterey Bay room looks out on cherry trees occasionally visited by the mascot of George Washington University.
Each morning around 8 a.m., Darrell lights a fire and winds up a music box. As the melody wafts through the halls, guests mosey to the breakfast table, where the Darlings serve baked treats such as handcrafted croissants and cinnamon scones. Cookies and tea appear on the table around 4 p.m., just in time to greet the inn's new arrivals. On select evenings, The Darling House doubles as an intimate venue for live poetry readings and concerts; Darrell promises the upcoming concert series scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month will feature "outstanding" local and national musicians and poets.
Santa Cruz, California: Eclectic Coastal Town with World-Class Surfing
Paul Hespel and Iris Ross link hands and do-si-do in the middle of the Pacific Avenue sidewalk. A fiddler and four band mates back them up with a bluegrass beat, entertaining a spirited crowd that claps and whoops in approval. This is a familiar scene in downtown Santa Cruz, an eccentric coastal town on the northern fringe of Monterey Bay. "Santa Cruz is extremely unique," Iris says. "It's very diverse with all kinds of culture, all kinds of people, and lots of community." Street performers, working alone and in groups, transform Pacific Avenue into a stage with dancing, drumming, and historical reenactments of the famed Lincoln-Douglas mud-wrestling matches. The area's dining options run the gastronomic gamut, but the Pacific Cookie Company stands out as a specialty sweets shop baking up to 13 types of cookies.
A 2.5-mile pedestrian path runs parallel with West Cliff Drive, providing scenic outlooks of Steamer Lane, a popular surfing location in Monterey Bay. The footpath begins near The Darling House and ends at Natural Bridges State Beach, where migrating whales, seals, and otters splash in the tide pools. Northeast of the park, children dart up and down the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, begging their parents for another go-around on the Looff Carousel. Benches and scenic viewfinders stud the Santa Cruz Wharf nearby, offering panoramic vistas of the Monterey Bay.