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Long weekend in Santa Cruz area for athletic event. Lots of fun!

Hotel Paradox
Newly opened (8/2012). Fresh, rooms, clean, "hip" - Lobby "hip" - with exception of random black/white marble table(!?) Staff wanting to please. Elevator out of order entire stay (not sure it has ever worked) and/but they offered to carry luggage. That's great but doesn't help the other 12+ times we had to walk up and down stairs during our stay... UNADVERTISED $5/day parking fee "on property" "with security" - awesome so if I park off property I'm at risk for break-in?! Yes, not super-great neighborhood. 24/7 doctors office next door - only bothered by sirens once. Not complaining, but FYI to light sleepers. We did have the parking fee waived, but it should have been clear upon booking, and was not. OK, we did like the property. Pool area reminiscent of Vegas in the Sinatra era. Cool pool bar, cabanas, fire pit ... All doors open to walkway ala "motel". But again, right now it's fresh and fun and apparently only choice in this category in town. Our room was quiet. Would stay again versus Holiday Inn Express up the road w/little/no charm and higher rates...

Santa Cruz boardwalk and wharf were yuck - over commercialized, dirty, ick. No charm.

However, sunset at Seacliff State Beach was AWESOME!

Michael's on Main - www.michaelsonmain.net - Great patio out back along river w/Italian lights. Diverse menu. Awesome pot roast and mashed potatoes and scallops! Would definitely return.

Aquarius - http://www.aquariussantacruz.com/ (@ the Dream Inn) - we didn't stay @ Dream Inn due to reviews of it being LOUD and us needing sleep for the tournament - but - the Aquarius was GREAT. We arrived on a weekend evening, dressed less formal than we'd hoped - and were greeted like royalty by the very well dressed hostess and given a table right on the glass facing beach/ocean. GREAT menu, GREAT FOOD. Again, mashed potatoes were great - but remember we were carb-loading for tournament. :)

SurfRider - www.surfridercafe.net Great joint! :) Right on the main drag. Cool/vintage indoor decor but we sat outdoors again. Burgers = GREAT. Service = Friendly and entertaining. Will return. Might try that Greek place next door, too!

BETTY BURGERS - www.bettyburgers.com - was a great escape! Poised on a corner lot - Betty serves up awesome burgers and other delights. Inside decor is 1950s inspired. Again, we sat outdoors. :) Friendly service. Awesome seasoned fries.

JACK IN THE BOX! Right across from hotel! $11 meal after $150+ meals! Great grease! We miss these in the Midwest!

Zipling through the Redwoods!
Great tour, knowledgeable, friendly guides.
YES. Happy we did this!


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