Take one part museum, add one part lounge, and mix it with a tribute to the man who brought surfing to the world stage, and you have the new Jack O’Neill Lounge at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn. Featuring floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Monterey Bay, a prototype O’Neill wetsuit under plexiglass, and vintage photos, a new signature drink menu highlights Jack’s favorite libation, a Ketel One Martini. Other drinks include the “Grom Report” (sassafras, Bacardi rum, and vermouth), “Steamer’s Lane” (cocoanut shavings, Grey Goose vodka, and lemonade) and more reflecting other points of interest in town, garnished with surf lingo. Repainted and lit to showcase nostalgic photos from the O’Neill vault, the lounge has taken on a lighter, fresher feel, reflecting the overall “vibe” of Santa Cruz. Just below the lounge and near the entrance to the wharf sits a permanent mural adjacent to the site of Jack O’Neill’s Original Surf Shop, a State of California Point of Historical Interest. The mural boasts a collage of historic photos of Jack complete with a bronze plaque. Over half a century ago, the first wetsuit was created by Jack O’Neill by experimenting with neoprene from the carpeting of a DC-3 airplane and his Santa Cruz surf shop was first opened in 1959.
The Santa Cruz Harbor was first constructed in 1964, expanded in 1973, and provides over 800 permanent slips for recreational, commercial, and research opportunities. The harbor serves as Santa Cruz County’s main gateway to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and offers sailing, kayaking, whale watching tours, stand up paddle boarding, a free water taxi and other recreational activities. Half a dozen restaurants line the harbor, and seasonal Wednesday Night Sailboat Races, beach parties hosted by the Crow’s Nest Restaurant and a lighted boat parade during the holidays are all part of the excitement of this maritime gem.
It all began in 1864, when President Lincoln signed a bill granting Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees to the State of California “upon the express condition that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation, and shall be inalienable for all time.” Since then, California State Parks have been visited by millions of outdoor enthusiasts – including California’s oldest state park, Big Basin Redwoods in Boulder Creek near Santa Cruz. Big Basin is the oldest state park thanks to California painter and photographer Andrew Putnam Hill and his photos of the coast redwoods spurring the sequence of events that led to the preservation of “California Redwood Park” as it was called in the early days Big Basin opened to the public in 1902.
The Carousel Motel is boasting a fresh new look and a new name. The beach area property, owned and operated by the Santa Cruz Seaside Company, reopened this season as The Carousel Beach Inn. Located just steps away from the beach and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the family-friendly Carousel underwent extensive renovations to create a more contemporary look. Improvements included fresh paint inside and out, along with new windows and window coverings, light fixtures, furniture, bedding, flooring, updated bathrooms, 42” flat-screen TVs, and new air conditioning units. The Carousel Beach Inn will continue to offer all the amenities guests love including complimentary continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and affordable Boardwalk packages.
The next culinary experience is on the horizon, from Kendra Baker and Zach Davis, who previously launched The Penny Ice Creamery, making artisan ice cream from scratch using locally-grown ingredients (Hibiscus Beet Sorbet, Black Pepper Quince) and The Picnic Basket – the Penny’s organic, gourmet deli sister. Assembly restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz celebrates food and community with rustic California cuisine presented in a style unique to Santa Cruz and its local agricultural abundance. Within Assembly is a new eating concept called Pop Up, which will serve as a showcase for up-and-coming rising chefs from the Bay Area who will rotate in and out on an 8-week basis or so, creating their own customized menus based on what is available from local farms and markets.