Hotel at a Glance: Hotel Paradox
The forest motifs at Hotel Paradox come as a bit of a surprise in the beach town of Santa Cruz—and that's the paradox. Forest-grove murals, tree-trunk stools, natural wood accents, and a giant oak tree towering over the hotel's pool complement the sand and surf that typify the California coast.
- In-room amenities: flat-screen HDTVs, iPod docking stations, eco-friendly bath products from 99sixty, and blackout drapes
- Take a swim: There's a heated outdoor pool surrounded by lounge chairs and potted ferns.
- Sit by the fire: The pool deck features a square fire pit with plenty of seating.
- Local eats: Solaire Restaurant + Bar serves up organic farm-to-table dishes such as Verlasso salmon with olive-oil smashed potatoes.
- Cool design feature: art displays made of tree branches in the hotel's lobby and restaurant
- Distance from Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: 1 mile
Santa Cruz, California: Laid-Back Surf and Skate Town
A progressive and eco-conscious town, Santa Cruz draws those looking for a relaxing spot to commune with nature. About a 90-minute drive southeast of San Francisco. the town features renowned beaches, where people come year-round to sail, dive, stand-up paddleboard, and most importantly, surf. There are several surfing businesses in town—O'Neill Wetsuits, Santa Cruz Surfboards, Santa Cruz Skateboards—and for good reason: the town boasts 11 world-class surf breaks, including one of the world's best surfing spots, Pleasure Point. Dive into retro beach culture at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, which features vintage boards, surf-movie posters, and old photographs.
One of the funnest things to do in town is stroll along the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is open on the weekends until summer. Voted the "World's Best Seaside Amusement Park," it offers mini golf and arcades live at Neptune's Kingdom. Along the coastline, there are heart-pounding roller coasters and skateboarders. Honor the city's skating tradition by grabbing a board and heading to the famous Santa Cruz Skate Park, which is open seven days per week and free to the public. It features a street course, a fullpipe, and classes for beginners and advanced skaters alike.