Ready for a little ’60s flair with that beach towel?
If the Jetsons, the Partridge family, or the Drapers had ever taken a vacation on the California shore, the midcentury Dream Inn would have been their ideal destination. Cheerful, sunny, and tropical-feeling with stems of birds of paradise and palm fans, the hotel is smack dab on the golden shores of Pacific sands. The Santa Cruz wharf, built in 1914, is within viewing distance with its sea lions, seafood restaurants, and retro amusement rides further down on the boardwalk.
While walking the beach and watching the surfers is top-notch way to fill the days, so are the rooms’ balconies—all have views of the Monterey Bay. So well outfitted in casual chicness, they feel like your own little piece of prime real estate, but with the down-to-earthiness of a beach shack with A-framed ceilings, surfboards, and rattan. The pool deck, overlooking Cowell Beach, is also a nice romp in the afternoon, with complete beach access. It is heated, with a hot tub and fire pits to consider.
Surf rules here, like politics do in Washington, D.C. And Dream Inn, which is on the spot of the city’s first surf shack, pays homage to the king, Jack O’Neill, with a larger-than-life collage of vintage photographs. Dream Inn’s bar, The Jack O’Neill Lounge, named after him, is stocked full of O’Neill memorabilia, like the thermal surf suit he invented. Surfboards dangle from the ceiling. Ocean views are everywhere, including the light-filled Aquarius restaurant, where you can dig into king salmon or fish and chips.
There’s a certain magic that was conjured when your parents packed the beach bag, loaded up the car, and drove the family to the shore. The Dream Inn has captured that emotion in a hotel: It’s a breezy carefree summer on the beach year-round that even adults in their prime can relive.