When we are in California, we always try to fit in a couple of nights in Santa Cruz, a local beach town nestled in the most northern end of Monterey Bay. It’s just a 30-minute drive from where we stay in San Jose, you can literally be in the middle of Silicon Valley and then sipping cocktails in Santa Cruz in less than an hour.
Our favourite place to stay, and in my opinion the best option for families, is Joie De Vivre’s Dream Inn. Each of its 165 room has an Ocean view, and it’s adjacent to the wharf and Boardwalk, and right on Cowell’s Beach. My favourite bit is there is a swimming pool that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. We usually get one of the poolside rooms, so we can get in and out to the pool easily, and grab some of the lounge chairs that overlook Cowell’s Beach. Then we can read and sip cocktails, while still keeping an eye on the girls who rotate between the swimming pool, hot tub, and playing in the sand. The also love body boarding, and we’ll go down to the beach and watch them ride the waves!
I keep promising them surf lessons from the Club Ed International Surf School. The school usually have a set up right on the beach near the hotel (look for the blue “Learn to Surf” trailer). They have all kinds of rentals to: Softboards, long boards, paddle boards, and wetsuits in all sizes. Next time!
Note: Sometimes after a heavy rain, the pollution level in the Ocean on Cowell’s Beach can be high and you are advised not to go in the water. If this is the case, the hotel knows and it is sign posted on entrance to the beach.
The girls love body boarding! We keep a few boards at my parent’s house and they get lots of use when we visit.
After an afternoon of “beaching it” we take an early morning stroll to collect sea shells. My youngest found a rupee in the sand, and made up a story about how it go on the beach in California.
Here’s the other side of the Cowell’s Beach, the wharf. You can view it from the swimming pool, beach and even your room.
Other other main activity for our break is visiting The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It’s just a five-minute walk away from the Dream Inn. Founded in 1907, the Boardwalk is California’s oldest surviving amusement park. The 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and Looff Carousel’s unique ring toss are National Historic Landmarks. Plus, it’s FREE to enter.
If you go:
Dream Inn 175 W Cliff Dr Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 426-4330 The best beach experience in Santa Cruz! www.jdvhotels.com
Cowell’s Beach/ Main Beach 109 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Cowell’s Beach is right in front of The Dream Inn, it s top spot for beginner surfers. It’s neighbour, Main Beach’s neighbor, is just on the left side of the wharf and is home to beach volleyball, Friday night concerts, and lots of tourists.
Club Ed International Surf School and Camps www.club-ed.com Often set up in front of the Dream Inn on Cowel’s beach.
Gilda’s 37 Municipal Wharf Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 423-2010 www.gildas-restaurant.com A combo seafood restaurant and diner. We don’t miss it for breakfast, and are often there for our evening meal too.
Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant 616 Atlantic Ave Santa Cruz, CA 95062 +1 (831) 426-3736 www.aldos-cruz.com Known for its Eggs Benedict, calamari, fresh salmon, and ocean and harbour views, this reasonable priced Italian seafood restaurant is one of our favourites.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk 400 Beach St Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 423-5590 www.beachboardwalk.com Founded in 1907, the Boardwalk is California’s oldest surviving amusement park. The 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and Looff Carousel’s unique ring toss are National Historic Landmarks. FREE to enter.
Marianne’s Ice Cream 1020 Ocean St Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 458-1447 www.lovemariannes.com You have to stop here. A landmark for more than 50 years, the ice cream parlour serves 70 flavors of ice cream, from classics like “Old Fashioned Vanilla” to Marianne’s signature flavour, “10-20” (caramel ice cream, fudge, Oreo cookies) “Horchata” and “Mexican Chocolate”.