Four-Star Oceanfront Hotel with 1960s Motif
As the city’s only beachfront hotel, Santa Cruz Dream Inn makes the most of its location: every room has a private patio or balcony overlooking Monterey Bay. A five-minute walk will take you to downtown shops or the wharf, where you can rent kayaks and join whale-watching or fishing trips. Also close is the beach boardwalk, a classic amusement park with more than 30 rides. If you’re quick, you can grab a free ride on the historic carousel with wooden horses. Amid this setting, hoteliers recently renovated the aging 1960s Dream Inn, turning its old-fashioned qualities into a design motif.
The lobby sets the tone for the rest of the retro-chic hotel with its multihued fiberglass chairs and front desk made of rough-hewn timber. Guest rooms come furnished with yellow Panton chairs and headboards upholstered in corduroy. Bright-green shutters open to reveal views of the Pacific Ocean and the glass door leading out onto the balcony adjoining each room.
Between the wharf and boardwalk, there’s no shortage of seaside dining. But Santa Cruz Dream Inn’s onsite restaurant, Aquarius, stands out thanks to its breezy atmosphere and sweeping vistas. Surfboard-sculptural overhead lighting and hanging basket lamps provide the perfect ambiance for the restaurant’s local seafood specialties. The oceanfront eatery also has a fine selection of regional wines.
Santa Cruz, California: Seaside Town with Free-Spirit Attitude
Located about an hour and a half south of San Francisco, Santa Cruz is an eccentric coastal town on the Monterey Bay’s northern fringe. The downtown street performers frequently transform Pacific Avenue into a stage with dancing, drumming, and historical reenactments of the famed Lincoln-Douglas mud-wrestling matches. The fun continues at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a seaside amusement park home to thrill rides and a carousel from 1911. From the top of the ferris wheel, you can take in bird’s-eye views of the many surfers catching waves in the Pacific.
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