The “new” Santa Cruz Dream Inn

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The poolside area was the main benefactor of the refurbishment. I just love it!


I’m a bit of a creature of habit, especially when it comes to my favourite places to stay. I’ve been coming to the Dream Inn for years …. my high school prom was held there back in the 80s!

The hotel has so much going for it – all rooms have amazing ocean views, it’s family friendly and the best part is the location. Park your car and walk to the wharf and watch the sea lions, hang out at the Beach Boardwalk or take surf lessons. It’s all pretty easy.

So I was surprised to learn that management companies changed his year, with Woodside Hotels taking over from Joie de Vivre. I was curious to see what changes were made … and if the Dream Inn would still be my favourite place to stay in Santa Cruz.

First off, the new management have done a nice job of freshening up the property – there are colourful plant tubs everywhere, bright paint and a fitting beach / surf theme throughout the hotel. 

Poolside rooms now have a significantly upgraded private patio area with comfy patio furniture and fabulous ocean views. You can no longer access the pool directly from the patio – a plus for security – but we miss the freedom being able to run in and out.

The poolside area was the main recipient of renovations. The first thing you notice are the colourful mini cabanas which dot the pool deck. The jacuzzi has moved to the west side and is much larger. There’s a larger bar area, replacing the old snack shack (it’s no longer a heat trap, according to staff).  There’s an enlarged seating area near the bar with inviting deck furniture and gas fires – perfect for roasting s’mores. All of these are very nice additions, but the drawback is they take up valuable seating space. My feedback was they could use a few more umbrellas and lounge chairs. Annoyingly many people were claiming lounge chairs by 7.30 am. 

There’s a coffee shop right inside the hotel now… so can pick up a quick flat white and bagel.

I was pleased to see the bicycles are still there … it’s always one of the highlights of our visit to borrow them and cycle to the beach with the butterflies!

Staff is as friendly as ever and a special shout out to the Dan the sales manager who went out of his way to sort our reservation when I had a hard time navigating the new website.

Overall the new Dream Inn looks fabulous with it’s retro chic look and I’m happy to say it’s still my favourite place to stay in Santa Cruz!



I loved all the little touches – like the surf board room numbers!



All of the rooms have been updated and are very clean and colourful!



You can’t help but think of sunshine when walking into the bathroom.



The poolside rooms have this nice seating area with comfy furniture – and it’s all very private. You can no longer access the pool area from here – a plus for security and privacy.



The view from a poolside room. 



Large, colourful pots of local flora are everywhere. 



More flowers!



The mini cabanas are very popular!



We always eat by poolside when we are there. The girls loved the California Cobb salad.



Tired of the pool? Take a stroll on the beach!



Very soon, the tide will reside and you can walk around the corner to one of the best surfing areas in Santa Cruz!



Looking for sea shells!



The view from the wharf at night. There are several traditional fish restaurants on the wharf and it’s a nice place to eat.



The girls love to take surf lessons with Club Ed.



Surfing in Santa Cruz (an English teen’s dream).



See, I told you the tide would go down!



The wharf is just a two-minute stool from the hotel. It’s the only wharf in California that you can still drive on.



I’m so glad the bikes are still at the hotel. You can borrow these and cycle all the way to Natural Bridges State Beach.



Borrowing the bikes is always a highlight of our stay at the Dream Inn.



Santa Cruz County Conference & Visitors Council Ask for the free travel guide

Dream Inn 175 W Cliff Dr  Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 426-4330 The best beach experience in Santa Cruz! 

Aquarius Restaurant Santa Cruz Dream Inn, 175 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 460-5012  California fresh food with matching view. 

The Picnic Basket 125 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 427-9946 Counter-serve cafe near the Santa Cruz Boardwalk offers locally sourced American eats & a patio.

Gilda’s 37 Municipal Wharf  Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 423-2010 A combo seafood restaurant and diner. We don’t miss it for breakfast, and are often there for our evening meal too.

Ideal Bar & Grill 106 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 + 1 (831) 423-5271 idealbarandgrill.comBustling room & bar with American entrees including steamed clams plus cocktails such as margaritas. 

Stagnaro Bros. 59 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 + 1 (831) 423-2180 Seaside eatery turning out seafood staples like chowder & fish ‘n’ chips with views of the Pacific.

Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant 616 Atlantic Ave  Santa Cruz, CA 95062 +1 (831) 426-3736 Known for its Eggs Benedict, calamari, fresh salmon, and ocean and harbour views, this reasonable priced Italian seafood restaurant is one of our favourites.

The Penny Ice Creamery 913 Cedar St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 + 1 (831) 204-2523  Eclectic & seasonal flavors of organic, made-from-scratch ice cream served in a spare, rustic space 

Marianne’s Ice Cream 1020 Ocean St  Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 458-1447 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”.

Cowell’s Beach/ Main Beach 109 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Cowell’s Beach is right in front of The Dream Inn, is a 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 Often set up in front of the Dream Inn on Cowell’s Beach.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk 400 Beach St  Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 423-5590 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.

Santa Cruz Wharf 21 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 420-6025 The Santa Cruz Wharf is a wharf in Santa Cruz, California, USA, known for fishing, boat tours, viewing sea lions, dining, and gift shops.

Roaring Camp Railroads 5401 Graham Hill Rd, Felton, CA 95018 +1 (831) 335-4484 Family-friendly park offers train rides amid natural landscapes, seasonal routes & special events.

Santa Cruz Surfing Museum 701 W Cliff Dr, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 +1 (831) 420-6289 The Santa Cruz Surfing Museum is a museum which was established in May 1986 to document the history of surfing.


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1 Comment

  1. 08/05/2017 / 04:34

    What an amazing place to stay. America is one country I am desperate to visit, have always wanted to. This place looks perfect. Love the clours.