One of the challenges of being holed up in a hotel room with kids is that when there's downtime, it's hard to “play”. At Seascape Resort in Aptos, a first-floor room comes with a gargatuan yard to run around in.
Here's why I recommend this as a vacation with kids: First, it's the perfect distance from the 510. Hop in the car and your vacation will start in 90 minutes. Use the money you saved on airfare to get a suite with a kitchen at Seascape.
There are a couple of restaurants on site. The Mexican one is just fine, but of course more expensive than Picante and Cactus put together. The little grocery store across the street is impressively well-stocked, like a mini-Whole Foods or something you'd find in Sonoma. The full kitchen in our suite included an oven and dishwasher, plus all the bowls and spatulas you need, so pancakes in the hotel room are totally possible. My mom made cupcakes and frosting with my kids there.
The swimming pool and hot tubs are fine. Nothing amazingly kid-friendly there. During my visit, a major water feature in the landscaping had been drained leaving an empty man-made river bed to climb around in, which my kids loved.
We brought with us stomp rocket-type toys, hula hoops, and kites and spent loads of time on the grass field. The beach was Nor Cal style, meaning I wore my jeans and sweater, not a bathing suit. Maybe it will be hotter when you go. We sandcastled for hours and found tons of sand crabs to examine. The kites flew great on the beach.
Parachuters are landing on the sand throughout the day, which is exciting to watch. Kids can approach them and ask why they just jumped out of a plane.
The walk down to the beach is a long nature path, as much fun for little kids as being on the beach itself. Pregnant ladies and exhausted toddlers can use the phone at the bottom of the path to call for a golf cart to take them back up the the room. There is no restroom accessible from the beach, which means I would not recommend it for the newly toilet-trained.
For outings, families might head to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, the nearby UC Santa Cruz on-campus aquarium, or make the 45-minute trek to Monterey Aquarium.
Our 2-bedroom suite (shared with my parents) included a flat-screen TV in the living room with dvd player and another tv in our bedroom. Our kids, ages 3 and 6, watched a movie and slept on the fold-out couch. They were thrilled.
The bedrooms were upstairs and the balcony allowed this view.