While hotels are often geared for business and efficiency – like the proverbial Cliff Bars of lodging – Bed & Breakfasts are geared for leisure. Think of hotels as the big summer blockbuster and B&Bs are your favorite independent, art-house flick. They’re human-scale and human-paced, peaceful and personal. Plus, they’re often housed in buildings that capture a sense of place and speak to its history and surroundings.

If you’ve never tried a B&B, you might think it’s not for you – kind of like the first time you heard about sushi. You needn’t be worried. The places listed below part with the fussy stereotypes. They cover lots of ground – from traditional to contemporary – and offer something for everyone. We’ve already told you about their killer breakfasts. Now let’s talk beds and the rest.


The name says it all: this cozy, rustic property sits on unbelievably lush, wooded grounds – with towering redwoods and natural brook meandering between buildings – and is hidden in plain view just a few blocks from Downtown. Guests enjoys in-room coffee service, free parking, and WiFi.

  • Style: Rustic
  • Year of Building: Original log cabin: 1909. Newer buildings: 1981
  • Number of Rooms: 13
  • Walking Distance From: Downtown Santa Cruz
  • X-Factor: The picturesque grotto-like grounds that feature a magnificent water wheel spinning above a year-round brook.


This place is special. The main building once served as a train depot from 1875 to 1958 before becoming a private residence and then a B&B. The luxurious rooms are individually decorated and open onto a peaceful, landscaped courtyard with an atmospheric fountain. Guest perks include a full breakfast, afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres, free parking and wireless internet.

  • Style: Traditional, Romantic
  • Year of Building: 1875 (adjacent home added in 1996)
  • Number of Rooms: 12
  • Walking Distance From: Capitola Esplanade and Beach
  • X-Factor: You are staying in a richly storied former train depot from 1875!


This modern, uber-green inn is mere steps from Downtown shops & restaurants as well as the Wharf and Boardwalk. You can also hop on loaner bikes and cruise the waterfront like the locals. Guests have an option to add a full course breakfast featuring their trademark freshly baked popovers served with homemade butters and preserves.

  • Style: Modern
  • Year of Building: 1990
  • Number of Rooms: 9
  • Walking distance from: Downtown Santa Cruz, the Boardwalk, Wharf and Cowell Beach
  • X-Factor: Could there be a more convenient locale for enjoying Santa Cruz’s scenic waterfront and buzzing Downtown hub?


This magnificent Italianate – once one of the numerous mansions built on the waterfront bluff known as Millionaires’ Row – now stands blissfully alone surrounded only by graceful gardens. Interiors are upscale but relaxed with a breezy, coastal elegance. Guests enjoy a full breakfast, afternoon wine & hors d’oeuvres, and bicycles to explore breathtaking West Cliff Drive.

  • Style: Contemporary update of traditional setting
  • Year of Building: 1877
  • Number of Rooms: 10 (including standalone bungalow)
  • Walking distance from: The Wharf, Cowell Beach and the Boardwalk
  • X-Factor: The stunning Italianate home is a treat to behold, let alone stay in as a guest.

These are but four of the many charming B&Bs tucked throughout Santa Cruz. Check out the many others on our site including:

  • Cliff Crest Inn: A historic 1887 Queen Anne Victorian that sits a few blocks from Main Beach and the Boardwalk.
  • Hinds Victorian Guest House: This Downtown Victorian inn is geared for stays of one week or longer.
  • Monarch Cove Inn: This inn enjoys water views and immediate proximity to Capitola Village.
  • Rio Vista Luxury Suites: A luxurious boutique-style B&B in a restored 1890 Victorian mansion, just two blocks away from the Boardwalk and Downtown Santa Cruz.