Best Waterfront Hotels in Santa Cruz County

Need a place to stay in Santa Cruz? Here are our picks for the best Santa Cruz hotels for a waterfront stay.

Featured photo courtesy of Seascape Beach Resort. 

A scenic view of a beach with turquoise waters and a sandy shoreline. There are cliffs to the left with greenery on top. Four Santa Cruz hotels to put on your radar line the beachfront, with trees and hills visible in the background under a clear sky.
Photo: Courtesy of Dream Inn

Dream Inn Santa Cruz

Down by the beach, the 165-room Dream Inn Santa Cruz is continuing its “vertical concert” series, in which internationally recognized musical acts perform on the iconic hotel’s pool deck while guests take in the show — and views of Monterey Bay — from their private balconies or patios. Ticket packages include an overnight stay, the concert and access to food and beverage service from Jack’s Patio or room service; prices vary by room category, with concert packages also available. Dream Inn also makes our lists for Santa Cruz County’s best hotels for group getaways and wellness

HIGHLIGHT: Chef Avram Samuels joined Chaminade about six months ago and is working with local wineries on a monthly, five-course dinner series called Vine to View. One recent edition featured Storrs Winery vintages with a four-course locavore meal that featured gazpacho, seared ahi, fried organic chicken thigh with herb Belgian waffle, and roasted organic chicken breast, plus a dessert of olallieberry cobbler and an array of appetizers. Seating is on the patio, with music by Asher Stern. Tickets are $115, including tax and gratuity.

hotel room with queen bed and views of the Monterey Bay at Seascape Beach Resort in Santa Cruz, California
Photo: Courtesy of Seascape Beach Resort

Seascape Beach Resort

Beach fires with hot and gooey s’mores are a big draw for guests at Seascape Beach Resort in Aptos, which has 283 suites and villas above a 17-mile stretch of beach. By reservation through the concierge, the resort will build a fire on the sand and provide chairs, bottled water and all the necessities for making s’mores available to rent for up to two guests, with a small added fee for each additional guest. Seascape Beach Resort also makes our lists for Santa Cruz County’s best hotels for group getaways.

HIGHLIGHT: For those who miss spa treatments but are still worried about going to a communal spa, Seascape also offers in-suite spa services like glycolic facials, personalized Swedish massage or a reflexology session. A 3-hour package that combines a massage, facial, reflexology session and aromatherapy scalp treatment is also available. Many rooms also come with two-person whirlpool tubs to add to the sense of a spa getaway.

Santa Cruz, Value, Beach Street Inn and Suites
Photo: Courtesy of Beach Street Inn and Suites

Beach Street Inn and Suites

With its long verandas outfitted with colorful Adirondack chairs overlooking bustling Beach Street and palm-tree fringed Cowell Beach, Beach Street Inn and Suites perfectly epitomizes Santa Cruz’s laid-back beach-town vibe. There are plenty of room configurations to choose from that accommodate groups up to six, all tastefully decorated with a breezy, beachy aesthetic, including some with ocean views, shared or private patios, and kitchenettes or full kitchens. Perks like easy access to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and the Municipal Wharf, along with onsite complimentary espresso bar, boutique and laundry facilities and Google Chromecast streaming in the rooms, make it easy to enjoy your stay.

HIGHLIGHT: The hotel’s ocean view pool deck (open until 10 p.m.!) features a heated swimming pool, hot tub, outdoor shower, firepit, and views of the beach and bay.

Santa Cruz, Value, Ocean Echo Inn & Beach Cottages
Photo: Courtesy of Ocean Echo Inn & Beach Cottages

Ocean Echo Inn & Beach Cottages

It’s a mere 100 feet walk from this charming inn’s doorstep to compact Sunny Cove Beach, a neighborhood-favorite Santa Cruz beach nestled between two cliffs. Many of the inn’s bright, contemporary lodgings feature ocean views, and some cottages are outfitted with fully equipped kitchens and can accommodate groups of four to six guests. Additional perks like a generous continental breakfast, on-property barbecue grills and a ping pong table make Ocean Echo Inn & Beach Cottages a fun beach getaway destination for the whole family.

HIGHLIGHT: Borrow chairs, towels and toys from Ocean Echo Inn for an easy beach day and return in the evening to toast marshmallows over a crackling fire with the inn’s Beach Bonfire Package, which includes a firewood bundle, igniter, s’mores kit and skewers.

Santa Cruz, Value, Casa Blanca Inn
Photo: Courtesy of Casa Blanca Inn

Casa Blanca Inn

It’s all about the location at this “no frills” waterfront inn — situated right across the street from the beach and a few blocks from the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Housed in the historic, Mediterranean-styled Cerf Mansion, the affordable Casa Blanca Inn features 33 simply decorated rooms, many of which have ocean views, and some have microwaves as well. Several larger accommodations can accommodate up to six people, and guests appreciate the pet-friendly policies.

HIGHLIGHT: Enjoy the views of Monterey Bay from the outdoor deck, which features a firepit for chilly evenings, or relax in the spacious patio garden, which is available for hosting events with up to 150 guests.

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