You’ll never lose sight of the coast when you spend your days at the beach, grab meals at these scenic eateries, and rest your head at one of Santa Cruz County’s many waterfront accommodations. Located in diverse settings along the Monterey Bay, each of the following properties sports breathtaking views of the sand and shore.
BEACH STREET INN & SUITES
It’s all about knock-out views and proximity to attractions at the Beach Street Inn & Suites. Perched directly over Main Beach, the property is a candy apple’s throw from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Santa Cruz Wharf. Splurge for an Oceanview Suite and enjoy a quintessential beach town experience from your massive sun deck. Courtyard Rooms surround a year-round heated pool with views of the bay. All rooms are dressed in beach cottage decor and are equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, and free WiFi. New this summer is a deck area lined with BBQ grills. Not up for grilling? Pop into The Picnic Basket, a wonderful artisanal café that’s located on-site.
The Dream Inn sits at the center of Santa Cruz’s most active beachfront. The landmark hotel is prominently situated on Cowell Beach with front-row views of the Wharf, Beach Boardwalk, and famed surf spot Steamer Lane. All 165 rooms face the ocean. Come bedtime, slide open the door that leads to your outdoor balcony and drift off to the gentle sound of the surf. Outside, a beachfront pool deck sits steps from the waves. Inside, bright retro-chic beach decor makes a splash of its own. Even if you’re not a guest, you can enjoy the views and good vibrations via their waterfront restaurant and lounge.
OCEAN ECHO INN & BEACH COTTAGES
Ocean Echo is one of Santa Cruz’s hidden gems. This former ranch is now a charming series of guest rooms and cottages hidden away on a side street overlooking gorgeous Sunny Cove Beach. You’ll swoon for their top-floor room with a large private balcony and an Instagram-worthy view of the cove’s crashing waves. The Inn is an ideal spot for families — and their pooches — since most multi-room suites and cottages include kitchens and BBQs. There’s also a large shared deck with shaded picnic tables and BBQ grills that overlook Sunny Cove. The property is within walking distance to a number of eateries as well as the festive Live Oak farmers market. And here’s a cool perk: you can arrange to be picked up and whisked off to Shadowbrook via their 1950 Dodge Taxi.
SEASCAPE BEACH RESORT
The instant you arrive at Seascape Beach Resort, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation. The full-service property is located in a secluded locale with stunning vistas of the Monterey Bay. A series of studios and multi-room villas are perched on dramatically scenic coastal bluffs amidst lagoons and views of Seascape Beach’s rolling waves. Each accommodation includes a fireplace and private deck and nearly all include full kitchens. Zippy golf carts shuttle you and your family down a windy path to the sandy beach. Their concierge can also arrange for a beach bonfire complete with s’mores! Seascape features three year-round heated pools, nearby golf course, and a restaurant with one of the most scenic patios in town.
PAJARO DUNES RESORT
Pajaro Dunes Resort comprises 120 coastal homes and condos tucked into the gentle, sea grass-covered dunes of a pristine expanse of the Monterey Bay. Blissfully removed from the bustle of town, the scenic locale is a tranquil retreat. Options range from 2-4 bedroom condominiums to expansive 3-story beach houses. All are a few steps from the beach and the majority sport ocean views. Homes are equipped with fireplaces, outdoor decks, and full kitchens. There’s a host of onsite activities including beach volleyball and tennis & basketball courts. And just like Seascape, Pajaro’s onsite staff can arrange for the most popular beach activity: s’mores!
MONARCH COVE INN
This former Victorian-era estate is nestled on a coastal bluff overlooking Capitola Village and Monterey Bay. The charming Monarch Cove Inn encompasses cliffside gardens, panoramic vistas, and a Monarch butterfly sanctuary tucked in a protected eucalyptus grove. Stay in the original 1895 home or one of the cottages that surround it. Rooms are decorated in traditional style and include breakfast delivered to your room. Some include fireplaces and outdoor decks. As secluded as it feels, you’re only a ten-minute walk to Capitola Village. Plus, there’s a scenic bayfront trail that leads you to nearby New Brighton Beach.