My son has a January birthday. I know what you’re thinking; bummer for him to not only be celebrating in the dead of winter, but also to have Christmas so close to his birthday. Well actually, to have a birthday on the heals of Christmas can be good. As in, “Hey kid, sorry Santa didn’t bring you everything you wanted, but there’s always your birthday.” And as far as celebrating in the winter goes, hey this is California after all. You can find sun. Here’s where we found it: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We could do it in a short weekend, no problem. My husband David gets the travel planning award for this one. He found the greatest little cottage to stay in; right on the beach, called The Ocean Echo Inn in Santa Cruz. It was plenty big even though we had an extra kid with us (my nine-year-old nephew), making us a party of five. The cottages are like the little house concept; a full house only shrunken. Ours had two main spaces; a master bedroom, and a family room/kitchen area complete with a convertible sofa for the three kids. The bathroom was super small, and the kitchen was itty bitty; but so cute and clean it was worth it. We made a full egg and pancake breakfast and a dinner while we were there and it was just fine. There are also outdoor barbecues if needed. The weather could not have been better and the beach that’s viewable from the communal patio is literally RIGHT there. The little sandy cove feels very secluded since it’s quietly tucked behind a mostly residential neighborhood. Also, the inn is only a ten-minute drive to our main destination; Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. If you’ve never been there, it is worth the trip; like you are stepping back in time a century. Since we were there in January, which is the off-season, half the park is closed; and wrist-bands are way cheaper; costing us $23 each. But that’s ok because what’s open is really the best part; including the world-famous Giant Dipper, the 90-year-old wooden roller coaster in America. We had an eight-year-old, a nine-year-old and a new ten-year-old and they all agreed it was the best possible place to spend a birthday. My nephew wants an exact replica of our day for his next birthday. There were very little lines, so the kids would get off a ride, run around back to the entrance and get right on it again. I was sure they were all three going to throw up on us, but they didn’t.