Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Santa Cruz and San Francisco

Dateline: 1:33 pm March 17, 2008 Filed under:

For a recent family trip to the bay area, I did a little reserach and our family stayed in two vacation rentals, one in Santa Cruz and the other in San Francisco. I loved it. They were prefect for my wife, son, wife’s parents and her brother, and all it took was a little browsing of a vacation rentals website to ensure what was around us and walkable.

In Santa Cruz, we stayed in the quaint Seabright neighborhood, a few blocks from the ocean and a mile from downtown. The neighborhood was fabulous – a new urbanists dream with a wide variety of homes on small lots with a coffeeshop, bars, convenience store and restaurants a block away.

Downtown Santa Cruz has recovered well from the 1989 earthquake. Around half of the buildings were lost, and nearly all sites have been redeveloped. Pacific Avenue is a charming blend of shops, restaurants and activity to rival any college town Main Street anywhere. I cannot wait to return.

Our place in San Fran was carefully chosen for its proximity to transit and the sights. Located in the Lower Haight neighborhood, we were three blocks from historic Alamo Square and its famous row of painted ladies, as well as three blocks from the N line of the Muni for easy access in to downtown. Around the corner were two great coffee shops, a rib joint, bagel place, and a wonderful Irish pub with big windows that opened out on the street, allowing the two to become one. Our whole family sat at a table in the sunlight of the front window, sharing drinks and stories.

I highly recommend vacation rentals. They are great for families, especially since you get your own kitchen and living areas, which is far superior to a hotel. A little research, using Walkscore, for example, and you can also be in a great neighborhood, which is good for getting to know a city much better.

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