No room at the inn. That was the answer I received from every hotel I called when I tried to book last-minute weekend rooms at the Jersey Shore. I had tickets for a Steely Dan/Elvis Costello concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center for Saturday night and, with American Pharoah running in the Haskell on Sunday at Monmouth Park, I thought a weekend at the Shore was a good idea.
I routinely sidestep taxis, crosstown buses and delivery bicyclists in New York. But on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, you must learn to dodge wetsuit-clad men racing down the street with longboards. When word of five-foot swells starts to circulate in town, surfers materialize, shed their street clothes and hurtle the fences surrounding the cliffs at Steamer Lane.
If you were directing a buddy movie about two over the hill surfers starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, you would film in Santa Cruz, California. It’s a quintessential West Coast beach town with breath-stopping Pacific vistas, an historic boardwalk, and enough Norcal funk to make you want to quit your day job and join the skateboarders.