The 1950s and ’60s idolized surfers and sunny beach locations. From films such as the 1959 Gidget and 1966 The Endless Summer, to songs like the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA”, and the original Hawaii Five-O tv show, we know and love the midcentury surfer’s look.

So if you’re wanting a little winter sun, come stay at the Dream Inn, on the California coast.

The Dream Inn has the distinction of being the only direct beach-front hotel in Santa Cruz.


The Santa Cruz boardwalk is home to one of the oldest roller coasters in the US, and has been in operation since 1911.

Santa Cruz Surfin’

Santa Cruz is a quintessential California beach town, with a look and feel that never quite left the midcentury. You can walk around the Santa Cruz boardwalk with a scoop of ice cream or head into the Casino Arcade, which has over 300 games, including a classic corner with old arcade games. While you’re exploring the ocean front, check out the local wildlife at the end of the wharf and see if you can catch a glimpse of a whale.

For a midcentury attraction, catch a show at the Rio Theater, which opened in 1949. You could see a music concert, live comedy show or even attend a film festival there.

If you want to get active, brave the Pacific on a surfboard at the famous Streamer Lane surf spot. You can also go inland and hike in Big Basin Redwoods State Park or catch the monarch butterfly migration at Natural Bridges State Park.

The inn itself pays tribute to the surf history of the town, with old pictures on the walls and an appropriate retro color scheme.

Midcentury Stay

The Dream Inn is right on the beach, and has 250 guest suites. This makes it not only a great destination for a family vacation, but for a beach wedding or business event as well.

The Dream Inn has several dining options, including the Jack O’Neill bar and restaurant, which pays tribute to the inventor of the wetsuit and founder of the O’Neill company. Jack lived in Santa Cruz from 1959 until his death in 2017. In fact, the inn itself sits on the location of his original surf shop.

To book a trip, head here.

This is the Ocean View Cathedral Executive Two Queen room, which has a private balcony, two queen beds and vaulted cathedral ceilings. Plus an ocean-front view, of course.


The Dream Inn’s Aquarius bar and restaurant overlooks the beach for a perfect dinner at sunset.