College Road Trip – Northern California

The reality of my daughter Maddy leaving San Diego to head off to college is starting to sink in. I’m making sure to enjoy the process. Our second College road trip was a success as we drove up the coast.

Maddy is pretty certain that UC Santa Cruz is her first choice. The campus is beautiful and surrounded by trees. She also seems to resonate with the liberal culture of life on campus. I was pretty impressed myself with not only the campus but Santa Cruz in general.

We arrived in Santa Cruz on a chilly and drizzly Friday evening. Our first stop was Twin Lakes Beach, which was less than a mile from The Pelican Point Inn (where we stayed). If it weren’t for the traffic and the cars parked along the street we would have thought it a bit of a ghost town. But even with the slight rain and bit of grey in the sky, it’s beauty is apparent!

Funny note, Maddy and I, both at exactly the same time, squealed “Ahh, how cute!” as we drove into sight of  The Pelican Point Inn,.  It really is. Both the inside and out of The Pelican Point Inn were darling and quaint, being more like a small apartment than a typical hotel room. The main room was complete with a bed, sofa, TV, and kitchenette.  Just behind that was small bedroom with closet and TV. (The pictures don’t really do it justice)

The gentleman who worked the front desk was very nice and informative. I was impressed with the place and wanted to know its history. Everything seemed updated and new, but I had the sense that the building had been around for some time. I asked if the place had a history and he kind of laughed, saying “Yes. But it’s not really good.” From what I gathered, back in the day, before the Pelican Point Inn was a mom and pop hotel, it was a Motel that attracted a different crowd. It was the kind of place that brought the property values down and made people want to stay on the other side of town. The current owners bought the building and completely renovated it. Having a respectable small business helped to destroy the stigma against the area, and created a comfortable destination for locals and tourists alike.

You’ll find no café nor restaurant at the Pelican Point Inn (not that you need it with the kitchenette) but literally 500 feet away you can find both!

The Windmill Cafe serves up coffee and organic food with vegan and gluten-free options. I really enjoyed the tofu scramble with veggies, as it was filling and flavorful. Right next door is Lago di Como Ristorante and Pizzeria. We didn’t eat at Lago di Como but it sure did look adorable and have a solid 4-star rating on Yelp.



With all of that being said, there are plenty of things to do within walking distance. Of course the beach, but also the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. It was such a surprise to see all of the rides. San Diego has a pretty significant boardwalk area with rides and attractions, but Santa Cruz’s boardwalk is like going to an amusement park. There are two roller coasters, bumper cars, the Cliff Hanger (think of hang gliding as you soar over the beach and then the boardwalk) and more!

After a couple of days walking all over Santa Cruz enjoying both the beach and UC Santa Cruz’s campus, Maddy and I decided it was time to make our way up north. UC Berkeley was next on her to-do list, but not before hitting up Union Square in San Francisco. We stayed at the Hilton Union Square, where the view from our room was unbelievable.
The Hilton is centrally located in the middle of Union Square– walking distance to Chinatown, Nob Hill and many stores.
We did more than our fair share of walking up and down hills, eating, drinking coffee, and shopping before we decided to head back to the hotel and rest. My favorite resting spot in San Francisco has to be the Hilton’s balcony where I took in the views of the city while enjoying a glass of wine. While Maddy’s favorite resting spot would be the bed. She doesn’t mess around where beds are concerned. I liken her to Goldie Locks. The mattress needs to be just right… And apparently, the mattress at the Hilton was. The Hilton at Union Square also offers a breakfast buffet at Poached, every morning with cooked to order eggs, regional, and international dishes.  We tend to be adventurous eaters, so we enjoyed the congee and dim sum but also took part in everything else.

At the end of the weekend, I felt the looming dread of returning home. Not because I dislike home, but because this trip marks for us one step closer to the day she will be going off to college.  In some ways, I can’t wait for her to leave. I actually make jokes about it. I’m not-“that mom”… but honestly, I am.

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