For a room overlooking the ocean, stay at the Sea & Sand Inn (201 West Cliff Dr., 831/427-3400, www.santacruzmotels.com, $189–229). In an unbeatable location on the ocean side of West Cliff at Bay Street, you’ll be close enough to downtown and the Boardwalk to enjoy the action of Santa Cruz. But you’ll also have a touch more quiet in a neighborhood that’s starting to trend toward the residential.
Every room in the house comes with an ocean view (hence the high price for what’s really a pretty basic motel room), and suites with hot tubs and private patios make for a wonderful seaside vacation. Rooms and suites do have nicer than average decor with pretty furniture, private baths, and free Internet access.
Some travelers prefer to stay in the woods rather than downtown or out by the busy Boardwalk. Redwood Croft Bed & Breakfast (275 Northwest Dr., Bonny Doon, 831/458-1939, www.redwoodcroft.com, $145–230) is a funky two-room B&B, set back in the recently charred ruins of the forest to the northwest of Santa Cruz, formerly a beautiful redwood forest.
The inn itself takes the woodsy theme indoors, using natural wood in the walls and furniture to create a serene retreat-house feeling. Each of the two guest rooms bursts with beautiful appointments, lovely stone bathrooms, and views out into the recovering woods.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition