Less than two hours south of San Francisco lies the most magical getaway along the Santa Cruz coastline.
I first came upon this impossibly charming storybook B&B while searching for wedding venues, and from the few photos I was able to find online, it appeared to be something out of a fairytale. Situated just 10 minutes from the ocean and tucked beneath giant California Redwoods of Aptos, is Sand Rock Farm Bed & Breakfast. From the redwood carriage barn, to the turn-of-the-century Craftsman home, and ivy covered stone walls of the winery ruin, it was everything I could have ever possibly dreamed.
On my first stay, I knew this was an incredibly special place. We entered through a private gate and drove along a wooded pathway until arriving at a towering yet tranquil home with logs burning in the fireplace. The Arts & Crafts era house was filled with period details like dark wood finishes, original fixtures, and a formal dining room with wainscoting. A grand staircase leads to a second story with window nooks and guest rooms with en-suite baths. And in a neighboring grove, a giant redwood stands tall, a beacon of the property.
AND THE FOOD... Derek, the chef, is amazing. The food is fresh, seasonal, and farm-to-table. His attention to seasonal, local ingredients mixed with bold flavors embody the adventurous spirit of this seaside town. From our first breakfast, he was accommodating and cognizant of my dietary preferences, an honorable quality among those with talent.
Owned by a prominent physician, in 1886 ten acres of olives and twenty-five acres of wine grapes were planted on the property. A large number of pines were set out and a dairy of fifty cows was established. Construction of the ranch house and water supply began the following year with redwood milled on the property. By 1887 three thousand fruit trees and an additional seventy acres of grape cuttings were planted. In about 1900, a large carriage barn was built. The very first wedding occurred at Sand Rock Farm in 1906: the doctor's first daughter. Parts of the land were slowly sold off until 1947, when it was sold completely to a family who used it as a ranch to raise beef cattle. In 1999 the property was sold to a professional chef who spent years restoring the property as a Bed & Breakfast. Now 10 acres of quiet gardens and woodland, the property was purchased by Jen and Derek in 2014, who still lovingly own and share the special property today.
BED & BREAKFAST or VRBO
Staying in this magical getaway, get lost wandering paths through ten private acres, or stay cozy and curl up with a good book by the fire. We did both. All rooms have jacuzzi tubs, robes, WiFi and cable TV. See if you can fit in a long weekend by checking here. Or, even better, rent out the entire property for a company retreat, team-building exercise, family reunion, elopement, girl’s trip, guy’s trip, or family vacation. You will have access to 5 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, a chef's kitchen, large dining room, gardens and a hot tub. Not listed on the site but available by calling directly, you can book a Private Retreat with up to 10 guests anytime between now and the end of April for $600/night, or book up to 18 guests (the entire house) for $866/night. Still looking for great holiday plans? Stay December 23 – 26th for a total of $3,600.
THINGS TO DO
There is no shortage of things to do along the Santa Cruz coastline. It is a very special place for me as my parents took my brother and I to Santa Cruz every summer for a family camping and beach trip. Almost every year we snagged the same lot at the Watsonville KOA under a towering Eucalyptus tree. We spent summers eating pies and pastries at Gizdich Ranch, hiking among the tall Redwood giants of Big Basin, shopping at the quaintest beach village in Capitola, getting sunburnt on the beach, and picking out the best driftwood at Manresa. And if you do plan a visit, which you should, be sure to stop by my favorite lunch spot, Café Gratitude in downtown Santa Cruz.
Sand Rock Farm is owned by the loveliest, down-to-earth power couple, Jen and Derek Hagglof. When I first met Jen, she was wearing workout clothes and a trucker hat, heading down to the beach to watch the sunset with her family. She gave us suggestions on where to find the best driftwood along the coast, and pointed us to our room. In getting to know Jen and Derek over the next couple of days, I saw an incredibly strong partnership. I learned they first met in the food and beverage industry in Squaw Valley, when Jen was managing a bar and Derek was the bartender. Through the years they worked together in the event and catering industry where Derek ultimately became a chef. Jen shared that she had always dreamed of creating her own community and wedding or event space and envisioned a large property with a barn. After many years of placing it on her dream board, the opportunity came up for her and Derek to buy this special piece of property. With their background, Sand Rock Farm became the missing puzzle piece to turn this venture into reality.
This place is truly something special, and I’m already looking forward to our next visit. It makes me so happy to share it with you.