Think you can’t afford a family trip to the beach? Think again! Santa Cruz, California has quite a few good hotel options for families on a budget (and who isn’t these days?).
The activities in Santa Cruz are nearly endless. Of course, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is located here. The cost for an “all you can ride” ticket is $29.95, or you can choose your favorite individual rides and spend the rest of the day at the beach. My favorite ride is the Giant Dipper, opened since 1924, and is the fifth oldest roller coaster in the United States. The Haunted Castle ride is always fun, and especially a treat for Halloween. Of course, you don’t have to spend lots of money in Santa Cruz to have fun. Families can relax on the beach, have a picnic, play in the water, watch the many surfers ride the waves, or take a walk on the Santa Cruz pier and see all of the many sea lions and pelicans. The Pacific Garden Mall in downtown Santa Cruz is a great place to take older kids or teenagers. It is an outdoor mall with many street performers and musicians, as well as one of my favorite places in the world for people watching!
The Super 8 Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is a hotel that I have stayed at many times. It is located just two blocks from the beach and boardwalk and is an outstanding value for the money. To me, the most important factor other than cost and cleanliness, is location. The rooms are spotless, have flat screen tvs (if you want a break from the beach), the beds are extremely comfortable and the service is very friendly. For families on a budget, overall, this hotel cannot be beat. Rooms here average about $79 a night.
Another favorite choice of mine, is the Carousel Motel in Santa Cruz, right across the street from the Boardwalk. Although the rooms are not luxurious, they are clean and the staff provides great service. Continental breakfast is free, and the convenience of walking just steps to the Boardwalk make this a perfect option. The only drawback is that on summer nights, it can be a bit noisy. I would choose this motel during the off season, as the rates for two queen beds are only $69 a night.
If you don’t mind being a bit farther from the Boardwalk, you can find some very good deals at the Ramada Limited in downtown Santa Cruz. It is one mile from the wharf/boardwalk, and I have found rooms here for only about $55 a night. There is a heated outdoor pool and a free decent continental breakfast as well. All rooms have microwaves and refrigerators, and are non-smoking.
It is not as hard as it seems, to take your family to the beach and not spend an arm and a leg doing it!