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Staff Picks Dream Inn | Blog

Our Staff Picks are your guide to stay 'in the know' when you go. Whether you're planning to hang ten or take five, checkout our blog to find the best local attractions, events and activities to keep you entertained while you stay in Santa Cruz. There's no shortage of things to do. From mild to wild, there's something for everyone here. 

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    A Berry Tasty August

    One of the benefits of modern-day supermarkets is that, whatever you’re craving, you can probably find it, whether you’re bundled up in the dead of winter or languishing through the...
    One of the benefits of modern-day supermarkets is that, whatever you’re craving, you can probably find it, whether you’re bundled up in the dead of winter or languishing through the dog days of summer. Still, there are certain delights—fresh-picked strawberries, for example—that are at their palate-pleasing finest just a few months each year. If you’ve never been strawberry picking in Santa Cruz, now is the perfect time to take advantage of the mild weather and plump berries begging for a spot in your bucket. Swanton Berry Farm, just 20 minutes from the Dream Inn by car, hosts u-pick hours every Saturday and Sunday from 9am – 5pm, and their farmstand is open seven days a week from 8am – 7pm. Another favorite of ours, Crystal Bay Farm is about 25 minutes away by car, and the juicy, organic strawberries are definitely worth the drive. U-pick hours take place Wednesdays and Sundays from 10am – 2pm. Swanton Berry Farm is located at 25 Swanton Rd, Davenport, CA, 95017. Crystal Bay Farm is located at 40 Zils Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076.
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    Searching for the Perfect Scoop

    Few things are more delightful on a scorching summer day than a scoop of freshly-made ice cream. Since 2010, the Penny Ice Creamery has defined fresh for ice cream in...
    Few things are more delightful on a scorching summer day than a scoop of freshly-made ice cream. Since 2010, the Penny Ice Creamery has defined fresh for ice cream in Santa Cruz. The only ice cream shop in the city with its own licensed pasteurizer, the Penny Ice Creamery houses a complete dairy manufacturing plant, where staff use only local, organic ingredients to craft delicious flavors right before their customers’ eyes. Flavors change from season to season, but always feature a combination of classics and one-of-a-kind flavors enabled by Penny Ice Creamery’s close partnership with area farmers and foragers. At any given time, you’ll also find an assortment of other freshly-made treats at the creamery, from bon bons to cookies and more. It’s hot out there this summer. As you stroll around Santa Cruz, stop by the Penny Ice Creamery to stay cool with a scoop of the finest ice cream in California.
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    The Coney Island of Santa Cruz

    For over a century, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (a.k.a., “the Coney Island of the West”) has drawn visitors from across California and the country in search of fun, excitement,...
    For over a century, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (a.k.a., “the Coney Island of the West”) has drawn visitors from across California and the country in search of fun, excitement, and the salubrious sea air. The long list of attractions at this iconic amusement park includes a bowling alley, two arcades, laser tag, mini-golf, and around a dozen of the finest thrill rides on the West Coast. The Giant Dipper is the fourth-oldest roller coaster in the country and also one of the most famous, having appeared in movies like The Lost Boys and Sudden Impact, plus countless TV commercials. On the Double Shot you’ll plunge 125 vertical feet in the blink of an eye (try not to blink, though—the view is spectacular). Or try the Cliff Hanger to experience the sensation of soaring high above the shore. Plus, with dozens of casual restaurants and eateries, you’ll have no problem keeping your energy up for a full day of family fun at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
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    The Extraordinary Plant Life of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden

    An easy 15-minute drive from the Dream Inn, the Arboretum and Botanic Garden at the University of California at Santa Cruz is a Golden State leader in conservation and education....
    An easy 15-minute drive from the Dream Inn, the Arboretum and Botanic Garden at the University of California at Santa Cruz is a Golden State leader in conservation and education. During your visit, you’ll be treated to 135 acres filled with vibrant plant species that thrive in this living museum’s Mediterranean climate. Over 300 plant families represent fauna native not just to California, but also to regions as far-flung as South Africa and Australia. In addition to the gardens dedicated to specific geographical areas, visitors can also explore the Aroma and Succulent Gardens, the brilliant Butterfly Garden, and the enchanting Eucalyptus Grove. The Arboretum and Botanic Garden are open every day from 9am to 5pm. Admission costs just $10 for adults and even less for seniors, kids, and teens. If you happen to be in town on the first Tuesday of the month, you can enjoy the gardens at no cost whatsoever, as all in the community are welcome to visit for free. For detailed driving directions, see the official website of the UCSC Arboretum and Botanic Garden.
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    Peruse the Santa Cruz Downtown Antique Faire

    From boutiques to big name brands, whatever your tastes may be, downtown Santa Cruz has something to offer everyone on a day out shopping. If you happen to be an...
    From boutiques to big name brands, whatever your tastes may be, downtown Santa Cruz has something to offer everyone on a day out shopping. If you happen to be an antiques enthusiast, we highly recommend checking out Santa Cruz’s Downtown Antique Faire, which takes place from 8 am – 5 pm on the second Sunday of each month. You could spend hours browsing the stalls of dozens of local vendors dealing in antique and vintage clothing, jewelry, books, toys, paintings, sculptures, furniture, and all manner of strange and delightful collectibles. Won’t be in town the second Sunday of the month? Consider stopping by Miss Jessie May’s Antiques and Collectibles between noon and 5 pm, Wednesday – Sunday. Miss Jessie May’s is a quirky little shop that caters to folks looking for fine and costume jewelry, artwork, books, toys, and much more. The Downtown Antique Faire is located on Lincoln St between Pacific Ave and Cedar St. Miss Jessie May’s Antiques and Collectibles is located at 1533 Pacific Ave.
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    Surfing in Santa Cruz

    Though the history of surfing stretches back some 5000 years with roots in ancient Peruvian cultures, the sport first emerged in its modern form with the Polynesian peoples who made...
    Though the history of surfing stretches back some 5000 years with roots in ancient Peruvian cultures, the sport first emerged in its modern form with the Polynesian peoples who made their way to Hawaii around 400 A.D. Fast-forward to the summer of 1885, and you’ll find a trio of Hawaiian princes who, while vacationing right here in sunny Santa Cruz, fashioned boards for themselves from the timber of the redwood forests and surfed their way down the San Lorenzo River. Thus, this quintessential California beach sport made it to the mainland for the very first time. Today, surfers of all ability levels from across the country travel to Santa Cruz to ride the waves. Dedicated surfers will probably choose to bring their own boards. For the rest of us, the many surf shops along Cowell Beach offer ample opportunities to rent a board and even take a few lessons.
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    A Romantic Couple’s Getaway at the Dream Inn

    Looking for the ultimate Valentine’s Day weekend getaway? Look no further because the Dream Inn and Santa Cruz have just what you need to make this Valentine’s a holiday to...
    Looking for the ultimate Valentine’s Day weekend getaway? Look no further because the Dream Inn and Santa Cruz have just what you need to make this Valentine’s a holiday to remember for you and your significant other. Enjoy a romantic stroll along the sun-kissed shore, or venture into Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to take advantage of Central California’s most beautiful hiking trails. As the Golden State’s oldest still operational amusement park, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk promises thrills for couples of all ages, and entertainment in town abounds with an eclectic mix of shops, cafes, and performance venues (we’re especially fond of Kuumbwa Jazz and the more grandiose Rio Theatre). Back at the Dream Inn, you can indulge in live music, fresh seaside fare, and craft cocktails at the Jack O’Neill Restaurant and Lounge, or retire to the intimacy of your private oceanfront patio or balcony to watch the sun set over Monterey Bay.
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    A Nature Lover’s Dream

    With its glistening shoreline and mild climate even in winter, Santa Cruz is a beach-lover’s dream. Though you might be tempted to spend every day by the ocean, we highly...
    With its glistening shoreline and mild climate even in winter, Santa Cruz is a beach-lover’s dream. Though you might be tempted to spend every day by the ocean, we highly recommend a foray into the gorgeous nature preserves or state parks that are just a quick drive from the Dream Inn. One of our top choices, Quail Hollow Ranch County Park encompasses roughly 300 acres crossed by extensive hiking and equestrian trails, picnic areas, majestic lookout points, a pygmy redwood forest, and a vibrant array of wildlife. Another favorite of ours, DeLaveaga Park offers picnic areas, bocce ball courts, ballfields, a playground, an archery range, and trails for hiking and cycling. For more detailed information on all the best parks, gardens, and other green havens in and around Santa Cruz, check out the official City of Santa Cruz website here.
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    Celebrating the Holidays in Sunny Santa Cruz

    In Santa Cruz, we are blissfully spared harsh winter weather—but there’s no shortage of holiday cheer! Here are a few of our favorite events going on this December: Santa Cruz County...
    In Santa Cruz, we are blissfully spared harsh winter weather—but there’s no shortage of holiday cheer! Here are a few of our favorite events going on this December: Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds: Holiday LightsNov 19 – Dec 26Open Thursdays – Sundays, this wonderland of lighted tunnels features twinkling snowmen, St Nick, reindeer, and much more. Best of all, you get to stay toasty in your car as you marvel at the radiant displays. Santa Cruz Holiday Lights TrainNov 26 – 27; Dec 4 – 5; Dec 11 – 12; Dec 17 – 23Collector car enthusiasts, take note! For several weekends this December and the whole week leading up to Christmas Eve, you can enjoy the procession of vintage cars decked out in glistening lights as they make their way through town. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: Winter WonderlandNov 26 – Jan 2This beachside Christmas celebration treats visitors to rides, games, arcades, and more. You can snap a selfie with Santa, saunter by the 3-story Christmas tree, roast s’mores, do a little shopping, and even catch a family-favorite holiday movie.
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    Uncover Undersea Wonders at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center

    With its beautiful beaches, redwood forests, and majestic mountains, there’s no shortage of natural splendor in and around Santa Cruz. If you’re curious to learn more about the complex underwater...
    With its beautiful beaches, redwood forests, and majestic mountains, there’s no shortage of natural splendor in and around Santa Cruz. If you’re curious to learn more about the complex underwater ecosystem that helps make our region a nature-lover’s dream, head over to Seymour Marine Discovery Center near Natural Bridges State Park. Run by experts from U.C. Santa Cruz, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center has been delighting and enlightening visitors from across the globe for over two decades. During your visit, you’ll encounter sharks, eels, jellyfish, octopus, and many other fascinating animals that populate the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, not to mention the always imposing Ms Blue, a blue whale skeleton that ranks among the largest exhibited anywhere in the world. Kids will love the hands-on experience of the Center’s touch tanks as they learn and explore at the state-of-the-art facility, and the whole family will come away with a new appreciation for maritime conservation efforts and undersea research. Address: 100 McAllister Way, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
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    The Chili Cook-Off Returns

    Once a year, chefs of all experience levels convene on the Santa Cruz boardwalk with one goal, and one goal only: to prove they have the most mouthwatering chili recipe...
    Once a year, chefs of all experience levels convene on the Santa Cruz boardwalk with one goal, and one goal only: to prove they have the most mouthwatering chili recipe in their cooking arsenal. After a year of hiatus, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Chili Cook-Off returns to Surf City on October 23, 2021, and the pressure is on to see which chef walks away with one of the highly coveted awards.  The day begins as chefs prepare to cook their unique stews, and from 10-1 PM the boardwalk becomes a runway of culinary delight as the smell of chili peppers and garlic fills the air. Chili enjoyers aren’t left behind, though: tasting kits are available that allow attendees to sample the options up in the running, along with a People’s Choice ballot that gives them the chance to cast their vote and make their voice heard. Awards are given for a range of categories, from Most Tasted to Best Amateur Vegetarian—but the truth is, everyone’s a winner when it comes to a fun-filled day of sampling and savoring chili on the boardwalk.  
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    Bring Your All to the Bounty of the County

    Lace-up your shoes and get your appetite ready because it's time for the Santa Cruz County Fair! Bounty of the County will begin on September 15th and run through the 19th. This is...
    Lace-up your shoes and get your appetite ready because it's time for the Santa Cruz County Fair! Bounty of the County will begin on September 15th and run through the 19th. This is your chance to take your pick at the winner of the Wild West Turkey Stampede and the All Alaskan Racing Pigs while chowing down on fresh corn and funnel cake. This fair was first established in 1885 and became a true novelty event in 1941, and has been going ever since.  The fairgrounds will be full of food, rides, and impressive agriculture. There is something comforting about joining your neighbors and cheering on the good guys on a warm fall day. You can purchase the tickets here or wait until you arrive — it is the perfect event for visitors of all ages. Grab the kids and make your way down to the Bounty of the County. 
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    Pick Your Berries and Eat Them Too

    It's strawberry season here in Santa Cruz. What a great time to be in California — the sun is shining, the weather is perfect, and strawberries are ripe and ready...
    It's strawberry season here in Santa Cruz. What a great time to be in California — the sun is shining, the weather is perfect, and strawberries are ripe and ready to enjoy. Lather on the sunscreen, grab your favorite hat, and make your way to the strawberry fields. Check out a few of our favorites around Santa Cruz County listed below.   Open daily from 8 am to 7 pm, Swanton Berry Farm prides themselves on their juicy, organic berries.  High Ground Organics is another delicious organic farm in the area that carries a large selection of fresh, crisp produce.  Crystal Bay Farm is a u-pick paradise where you can choose between strawberries, yellow and red raspberries, olallieberries, and tayberries. The variety will leave you in berry heaven.  If you're after even more variety, you can click here for a list of all the u-pick berry farms in the area. 
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    Dream-Inn' of Ice Cream

    If sweetness is the way to your heart, then a trip to the Penny Ice Creamery is a must-stop on your Santa Cruz summer itinerary. Not only is their ice...
    If sweetness is the way to your heart, then a trip to the Penny Ice Creamery is a must-stop on your Santa Cruz summer itinerary. Not only is their ice cream completely delicious, but it's created locally and completely sustainable too! Owners Kendra and Zach first opened their boutique ice cream shop over a decade ago, and have been serving up delicious frozen treats to the Santa Cruz community ever since. Their dream was to create a space that was extraordinarily tasty and inviting to the entire town—and we're pretty sure they have achieved just that!   The ice cream served at Penny’s is truly one-of-a-kind—every batch is made fresh daily using only the simplest and purest local produce. The Penny Ice Creamery has really taken their product back to basics, and you can taste it in every perfect bite. Stop by this summer and see how many great flavors you can fit into your trip!     
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    Spend Father's Day Out on the Ocean

    This Father’s Day, don’t be a landlubber—make sure to rile your pops up and get him out on the ocean! Santa Cruz is a town surrounded by water, so it is...
    This Father’s Day, don’t be a landlubber—make sure to rile your pops up and get him out on the ocean! Santa Cruz is a town surrounded by water, so it is only natural to throw on your swim trunks and head out to sea. You don’t have to be on a surfboard to get the full effect of the Pacific, there are many different ways to take your dad out on the ocean. Rent a kayak and explore the saltwater basin in calmer waters throughout the many bays that surround Santa Cruz — you can paddle out solo or join a guided tour. If your dad is more of an adrenaline junky, grab a paddleboard and try your hand at paddling down the waves with the surfers of Santa Cruz. Or try your luck at deep-sea fishing by renting a boat — there is nothing better than a little salty bonding time surrounded by the big blue. Happy Father’s Day! 
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    California's Gold Rush

    Catch a glimpse of Santa Cruz’s golden wilderness. Travel on your own two feet or sit behind the wheel and go for a ride to remember. Natural Bridges State Beach Battered...
    Catch a glimpse of Santa Cruz’s golden wilderness. Travel on your own two feet or sit behind the wheel and go for a ride to remember. Natural Bridges State Beach Battered by endless ocean spray, these scenic rock formations are also the seasonal nesting grounds for thousands of migrating monarch butterflies and birds. UCSC Arboretum An oasis for rare species of hummingbirds and a delight for photographers, this renowned tree sanctuary has something for every nature enthusiast. MJA Vineyards Elevated fields of ripe grapes roll out before your sight, waiting to be pressed by the exceedingly friendly staff who run MJA Vineyards. Enjoy a glass over their inviting fireplace. Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History This fantastic small museum, flanked by a massive whale diorama, contains a wealth of local fauna samples and taxidermy animals native to the region. West Cliff Drive If there’s still gas in the tank, consider a short trip along West Cliff Drive. Famous for its large residences and serene ocean views, the walking path is suitable for any fitness level.
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    Shop the Sidewalks of Santa Cruz

    Window shopping is a favorite pastime for many, but on the last weekend of each month, Downtown Santa Cruz brings the goods out from behind the glass and prominently displays...
    Window shopping is a favorite pastime for many, but on the last weekend of each month, Downtown Santa Cruz brings the goods out from behind the glass and prominently displays their products outside the shop. The town’s monthly Sidewalk Sale is a great way to snag everything you’ve been eyeing, at a discounted rate. Swing by to take part in this highly-anticipated shopping event and get ready to bring home some great month-end deals from the eclectic boutiques that line the street. Browse trendy men’s and women’s clothing, try on one-of-a-kind accessories, shop for kids’ games and toys, pre-owned books, and organically-grown California wine. This outdoor shopping experience provides a laid-back way to browse without any added pressure to buy, and there is quite literally something for everyone. So gather your friends and get ready to hit the weekend Sidewalk Sale in Downtown Santa Cruz — the perfect post-brunch activity!
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    Santa Cruz, California’s Original Surf Town

    If surfing is what you’re in search of, you’ve come to the right place! A laid-back, hang-ten type of destination, Santa Cruz is California’s original surf town. Surfing was first...
    If surfing is what you’re in search of, you’ve come to the right place! A laid-back, hang-ten type of destination, Santa Cruz is California’s original surf town. Surfing was first discovered in Hawaii and rode on longboards with no fin, but as legend has it, 1885 surfing was first introduced to the mainland United States by three Hawaiian royals. The three nephews of King Kalakaua had been stationed to stay on the mainland, where they took to the redwood forest to recreate their beloved boards. With new boards in hand, the three young Hawaiian royals tried their hand at surfing in the San Lorenzo River, three decades before Olympian Duke Kahanamoku made his way onto the scene. Now that you’re armed with a bit of knowledge about the origin of the sport, pick up a board or sign up for lessons at one of the many surf shops around Cowell Beach. Paddle out in our historic bay while daydreaming about all the legends who have taken to the waves before you.
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    Bring Your Love to Santa Cruz

    February is the month of love, and what better way to celebrate your loved one than with a trip to Santa Cruz. There is nothing more romantic than a vacation...
    February is the month of love, and what better way to celebrate your loved one than with a trip to Santa Cruz. There is nothing more romantic than a vacation to the Pacific Coast, tailor-made for two. Our retro-chic rooms provide the perfect retreat — with dreamy bedding, coastal decor, and private balconies with sweeping views of the Monterey Bay. Sample the famous organic wine and Pinot Noir at Hallcrest Winery, geek out on old-school arcade games and classic rides at the historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, or marvel at the towering redwood trees of Big Basin State Park. Sunset beach picnics, lively art walks, and exhilarating zip-lining eco-tours are all on the agenda. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, live music, craft cocktails, and sustainable seafood are all on tap at Jack’s Patio, perfect for outdoor dining in a laid-back environment. Looking for breakfast or a late-night snack from the comfort of your room? Delicious in-room dining and our signature Tiki Cocktail Kits are just a call away. Leave Dream Inn feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and even more in love than before you arrived.
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    Retreat Among the Redwoods

    During your next stay in sunny Santa Cruz, make sure to set aside some time to hit the trails—even if it means having to peel yourself away from the beach...
    During your next stay in sunny Santa Cruz, make sure to set aside some time to hit the trails—even if it means having to peel yourself away from the beach for an afternoon. Dream Inn is surrounded by some incredible state parks, nature preserves, and green spaces, including Quail Hollow Ranch County Park and DeLaveaga Park, both just a quick car ride away. There truly is nothing like a day spent wandering around the woods. Stroll under a canopy of towering redwood trees, take in the fresh mountain air, and catch tiny woodland creatures scurrying around the forest floor. First time hikers and experienced trail runners will equally enjoy a jaunt through California’s beautiful forests. Stop by the City of Santa Cruz Parks & Recreation website to find the trail that best fits your recreation style — you may even surprise yourself — many visitors return to the redwoods again and again.
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    Can You Sea the SS Palo Alto

    There is just something so majestic about the sea. From the waves that curl in and out of shore to the animals that inhabit the water, there is so much...
    There is just something so majestic about the sea. From the waves that curl in and out of shore to the animals that inhabit the water, there is so much beauty and mystery surrounding its every move. One of our favorite places to visit is the SS Palo Alto — quite like the sea this once-powerful tank will conjure up a sense of grandeur when you see it for the very first time. The SS Palo Alto was built during World War I out of concrete because of a steel and iron shortage towards the end of the war. Although the SS Palo Alto was built as a tanker for the war, she was not finished before the war ended. She shuffled through serval jobs and titles before landing here in Santa Cruz at Seacliff State Beach Park. She now serves as an ecological habitat for marine life and shorebird populations in the area. The SS Palo Alto was slightly flipped over during the winter in 2017 but is still a great spot to marvel and birdwatch during your stay in Santa Cruz.
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    Paint Santa Cruz Green This St. Patrick's Day

    This month should be a grand ole’ time around here in Santa Cruz, for it’s the Day of Saint Patrick and there will be plenty of food and booze. St....
    This month should be a grand ole’ time around here in Santa Cruz, for it’s the Day of Saint Patrick and there will be plenty of food and booze. St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, but that won’t stop us from celebrating this festive holiday all week long. Fish and chips with a side of green beer will be available at several locations throughout the week. However, there are two iconic St. Patrick’s Day events in Santa Cruz that we wanted to highlight!  Poet’s 38th Annual St. Patrick’s Day is Santa Cruz’s longest-running St. Patricks Day celebration. The party will start at 3 pm and go until all the Guinness is gone. This longtime event will have live music and food trucks too! Now if you’re feeling as lucky as a leprechaun, then you should find yourself running towards the end of the rainbow at the Go Green St. Patrick’s Day Run. Bring your friends and family to see who can reach the pot of gold first! 
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    Migrate to Natural Bridges State Park for a Festival

    It’s time for the great winter, early spring migration, and Santa Cruz is throwing a party! On February 8th, the city will be hosting our annual Migration Festival all day...
    It’s time for the great winter, early spring migration, and Santa Cruz is throwing a party! On February 8th, the city will be hosting our annual Migration Festival all day long. We are celebrating all animals that will be traveling North to their new homes for the summertime. Santa Cruz is a large passing point for many creatures—including whales, butterflies, and birds—who will all be making a stop here in the next few months. The Migration Festival is an interactive festival that's great for families; there will be educational booths, migratory animal talks, games, and plenty of live entertainment. The event will be held at Natural Bridges State Park, sp bring a blanket and pack a lunch because it will be a fun-filled day of learning, sunshine, and plenty of great activities. We love all of our part-time neighbors and love when they make their annual stop in Santa Cruz. We can’t wait to share all our favorite information about these beautiful nomadic creatures with you! 
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    Eat Locally in California this 2020

    Santa Cruz is full of great restaurants, local farms, and tons of weekly markets that sell locally produced food to the public. In 2020 we have dedicated one of our...
    Santa Cruz is full of great restaurants, local farms, and tons of weekly markets that sell locally produced food to the public. In 2020 we have dedicated one of our new year's resolutions to learning how to source our food locally and seasonally. We are lucky to be from a state with mild weather and tons of sunshine, making the produce on this side of the country top-notch. With so many restaurants in the area, how do you know if you have picked a spot that is sourcing the right vegetables for the season, or getting their produce from the region? A great place to start is by finding out what fruits and vegetables are normally grown during the month you are currently in—for example, if you’re dining out this January, you should look for items on the menu that include ingredients like asparagus, arugula, pomegranates, sprouts, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or turnips. Another indication that a restaurant sources their food locally is that they will usually list the farms they use on the back of the menu. Now that you are equipped with the knowledge to enjoy fresh food, all we have to say to you is "Happy New Year and even happier eating!" 
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    Happy Ho-Ho-Holidays from Santa Cruz

    The holidays have arrived—plug in those string lights and pour yourself a stiff glass of holiday cheer because this year's winter festivities are in full swing. There will be fun...
    The holidays have arrived—plug in those string lights and pour yourself a stiff glass of holiday cheer because this year's winter festivities are in full swing. There will be fun events taking place in downtown Santa Cruz for the entire month of December. To kick off the season right, all of the downtown shops have implemented their seasonally anticipated winter wonderland displays. Grab a hot cocoa and a map while you check out all of the local artists that participated in the gorgeous 2019 displays. Another family favorite for this time of year is the annual Downtown Holiday Parade. Line the streets with other eager spectators and cheer on the impressive floats that will be passing through the streets—if you cheer loud enough you might just even catch a glimpse of Santa and his beloved wife Mrs. Claus. For the more mature visitors to Santa Cruz who are looking to get more naughty than nice, a holiday themed pub crawl has been set up just for you! Check out the full list of events that will be happening in downtown Santa Cruz here. December will be a month full of great HO-HO-HOliday fun. 
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    Channel Your Inner Nature Lover to These Spectacular Islands

    If you are looking to branch out of the urban atmosphere of Santa Cruz, plan a day trip over to Channel Islands National Park. This park is close enough to...
    If you are looking to branch out of the urban atmosphere of Santa Cruz, plan a day trip over to Channel Islands National Park. This park is close enough to Santa Cruz to make it an easy daytime activity, but we promise you will feel like you left the country and stepped into paradise. The Channel Islands are composed of five different islands that can only be reached by park concessionaire boats, planes, or private boats. While this may seem tough, it’s fairly simple to reach these islands with just a little extra planning on the front end of your trip. Surround yourself with some of Mother Mature's finest, semi-untouched work—the Channel Islands are home to some of the largest kelp forests in the Pacific Ocean, islands full of sea lions, and the occasional whale sighting. Let the mystery of the natural world woo you during your stay in Santa Cruz! 
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    Pack Your Spooky Shoes in Santa Cruz

    Halloween is starting early in Santa Cruz this year—13 days early to be exact. We love this spooky season so much in Santa Cruz that we decided it was only...
    Halloween is starting early in Santa Cruz this year—13 days early to be exact. We love this spooky season so much in Santa Cruz that we decided it was only right to begin celebrating a little earlier than usual. It’s about to be 13 Days of Halloween on the Wharf, and you’re invited to get a little scary with the rest of the town. October 19th is when all the ghouls and boys will be sneaking out of their graves and socializing among the haunted. They will be dancing their skeletons off to Thriller and attempting to catch a ghastly picture at the photo booth. There will also be seasonal specials at the majority of restaurants and some of the gift shops for the last two weeks of October. Make sure to dress in your best costume before making your way down to the wharf. It’s a great way to kick-off the fall season and to cause a little harmless trouble at the same time. 
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    Spend Your September at a Different Santa Cruz Festival Every Weekend

    The dog days of summer are slowly coming to a close, which means fall is right around the corner. For some, September marks the best time of the year—cooler weather,...
    The dog days of summer are slowly coming to a close, which means fall is right around the corner. For some, September marks the best time of the year—cooler weather, football season, and inching closer to the highly anticipated holiday months. While all of those things bring us joy, what we are really excited for is the sheer amount of festivals and fairs going on in the month of September. Be sure to check out a few of our favorites, listed below. Mole & Mariachi Festival: An entire day dedicated to Mexican food and music sounds like a perfect Saturday activity to us. September 7th.  Santa Cruz County Fair: It’s one of the events we look most forward to all year long. Who doesn’t love carnival food and silly rides? September 11th - 15th.  Capitola Art & Wine Festival: Art and wine, need we say more? September 15th & 14th.  
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    Santa Cruz Your Way Around Wilder Ranch State Park

    The coastline in Southern California is truly what dreams are made of. The dramatic rocks against the cool Pacific Ocean is a perfect panoramic image that belongs carefully placed in...
    The coastline in Southern California is truly what dreams are made of. The dramatic rocks against the cool Pacific Ocean is a perfect panoramic image that belongs carefully placed in your memories. One of the best ways to see all of the beauty that this incredible coastline has to offer is by getting out of the city and onto the dusty trails around the state.  A local favorite is the Old Landing Cove Hike located in Wilder Ranch State Park. This two-mile hike is great for beginners as well as experienced hikers looking to take a fun route along the ocean. This trek is fairly flat and totally customizable—take on the full loop or extend your walk into Ohlone Bluff, just a little further down the trail. Hikers can expect to see beautiful vibrant green grass with wildflowers, secret beaches between the rocks, and might even catch a glimpse of migrating whales. You never know what kind of magic you’ll find while exploring the great state of California! 
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    We Have a Case of This Years Santa Cruz Race

    It’s time to gear up and cheer loud for the runners of ‘the best little road race in California,’ the 47th Annual Wharf to Wharf Race. This iconic race brings runners...
    It’s time to gear up and cheer loud for the runners of ‘the best little road race in California,’ the 47th Annual Wharf to Wharf Race. This iconic race brings runners from all over the country to compete in Santa Cruz for a spot in the Top 100 fastest runners on this salty, scenic course. Only 16,000 people are able to sign up for this fun run and the top 100 will walk away with more than just bragging rights. The Wharf to Wharf run is less than a half marathon but just long enough for those athletes running to really feel the burn.  Wake up with the sun and claim your place along the rolling hills to help motivate these dedicated runners. You will see a plethora of silly signs and encouraging words that will undoubtedly cause a case of the giggles among some runners. It’s possible that you will leave the course just as inspired as you have helped others feel. Now that’s one positive way to start a Saturday! 
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    Freak Out Over Free Summer Entertainment in Santa Cruz

    This summer, coming to a beach near you, are completely free movies and concerts series every single week. Summer is here and it's time to roll out your beach blankets...
    This summer, coming to a beach near you, are completely free movies and concerts series every single week. Summer is here and it's time to roll out your beach blankets and towels so that you can enjoy the delightful scenes and tunes of the beach boardwalk. Each Friday night, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk invites you to enjoy a giant range of famous headliners that will be playing rock from the ’70s to today. The shows begin at 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm—but if you are craving more from your outdoor activities, be sure to stop by on Wednesdays for Santa Cruz’s Free Movies on the Beach. All of the movies that will be played are completely family-friendly and like we said, completely FREE! Summer is the best time to round-up all your friends and family and enjoy the breezy weather that hits Southern California right at dusk. 
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    Sail The High Seas of Santa Cruz

    There are so many ways to appreciate the breathtaking scenery of Santa Cruz, but one of the most romantic and unforgettable ways is to take on the city is by...
    There are so many ways to appreciate the breathtaking scenery of Santa Cruz, but one of the most romantic and unforgettable ways is to take on the city is by water. Schedule a private sailing excursion during your summer visit to Southern California, right here in the Santa Cruz Harbor. With plenty of warm, breezy days ahead of us and endless sunshine, a trip out to sea is exactly what the soul needs. While you are cruising the actual deep blue hues of the Pacific Highway, you will get a chance to see remarkable wildlife while completely relaxing along with the current and the salty air that will be pushing you along the coast. Just take a quick stroll down to the harbor or ask our concierge to help you book your exclusive chartered tour during your stay with us, to help make your trip become even more memorable than you could ever imagine! 
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    Veggies Are Taking over Santa Cruz!

    Calling all VegHeads to VegFest this Saturday, April 6th! If you are a veggie-lover, vegetarian, vegan or anything in between, this is the most perfect Saturday afternoon event for you....
    Calling all VegHeads to VegFest this Saturday, April 6th! If you are a veggie-lover, vegetarian, vegan or anything in between, this is the most perfect Saturday afternoon event for you. You can expect great live music along with the opportunity to learn about a sustainable, plant-based, and cruelty-free lifestyle. As our world continues to evolve, awareness towards our environment has certainly increased. VegFest is a fun way to learn something new about a different lifestyle, brush up on what you already know or just have a great time trying new food and checking out the latest fashion and beauty in the cruelty-free realm. Tickets to this event are completely free if you register through Event Bright here. This event is just a quick walk from the hotel, so stretch your legs and bring your appetite to this years VegFest! 
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    First Friday is a Fab Way to See Santa Cruz

    There is no shortage of interesting things to do when visiting Santa Cruz, but one of our most cherished events is First Friday, and it happens to occur every single...
    There is no shortage of interesting things to do when visiting Santa Cruz, but one of our most cherished events is First Friday, and it happens to occur every single month. First Friday was started in the community to promote local artists and enhance foot traffic in the Downtown, Midtown, River Street, Soquel Village, San Lorenzo Valley, and Westside areas. Each month the galleries and shops in those districts stay open late to display all of the incredible work that they have on display and offer snack and cocktails to all patrons. Each of the locations offers a different block party atmosphere with live music and tons of locals mingling. It is a great way to see the raw version of Santa Cruz and to pick up some cool new artwork along the way. Visit Southern California the authentic way and make some new connections while you do it at Santa Cruz’s First Friday Party!
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    Experience the Older Side of Santa Cruz

    The weather in California is some of the greatest in the entire country. People have been flocking to our cliffy seaside from the moment it was discovered. Even to this day,...
    The weather in California is some of the greatest in the entire country. People have been flocking to our cliffy seaside from the moment it was discovered. Even to this day, people from all over the world come to Northern California knowing they will get a healthy dose of sunshine and fresh air, especially during the winter months. One of our favorite places to visit is Mission State Historical Park, just a quick ride up the road. Mission State Park houses the oldest building in Santa Cruz and is home to a plethora of different birds, elephant seals, and jaw-dropping views! It was built in 1791 as the twelfth of twenty-one mission homes that were built for Christian settlers who were spreading the word of God. Mission State Park no longer represents a religious landmark but it is still quite remarkable to lay eyes on a building that was built so many years ago.
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    Guided Tours in January Lead to Seal'd Deals

    The new year brings new sea neighbors to Northern California beaches each winter. Take a guided tour this January to catch a glimpse at the majestic elephant seals that make...
    The new year brings new sea neighbors to Northern California beaches each winter. Take a guided tour this January to catch a glimpse at the majestic elephant seals that make their way to Año Nuevo State Park. Elephant seals are among some of the most aggressive large mammals that visit the California beaches. The seals migrate to this Northern California beach during mating season while they await their female partners to give birth to a new litter of pups. This is also the time that the males duke it out to become the alpha male and the one that will get to mate. Año Nuevo State Park offers guided tours during mating season, which lasts through March. It's a 3 to 4-mile journey that can only be achieved by hiking. Bring your waterproof clothes and sturdy shoes and be one of the few that gets a real peek at these incredible animals! 
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    All Aboard the Santa Cruz Santa Train

    As one holiday comes to a close a bunch of other fun ones are all coming to an opening. It is safe to say that the holiday season is in...
    As one holiday comes to a close a bunch of other fun ones are all coming to an opening. It is safe to say that the holiday season is in full swing, which means lights are popping up left and right all over Santa Cruz. A great way to experience the lights around town is by taking the Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train & The Lighting of the Menorah on December 3rd for the Chanukah Train. The Holiday Lights Train runs every Saturday and Sunday in the month of December and has even brought Santa Claus down all the way from the North Pole to give the official tour. Sip on Hot Cider and visit with Santa and after the train ride concludes try a fun twist of ice skating at the beach! This holiday ride is so unique you’ll be exiting the train screaming “ALL ABOARD SANTA'S AWAITIN'!”
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