The Clear Creek flowing through the Brookdale Lodge.
The Clear Creek flowing through the Brookdale Lodge.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Beautiful quirks

Go Deeper

Continue exploring the people, places and the lore that make Boulder Creek, Brookdale and Ben Lomond such a unique place.

This is the stuff that any town has, but no one who just drops in from out of town would know about. These are the bits that locals tell you, that you learn over time, that you witness through self-discovery. I can tell you that there was some drama in the neighborhood chat rooms over that James Dean mural.

Clear Creek in Brookdale is now the only entity that gets to see the inside of the Brook Room, the grand restaurant at the Brookdale Lodge that has been shuttered for years with the running stream straight through the middle. Hopefully, one day in the near future, as part of the next phase of refurbishments at the historic hotel now owned by Previn Patel, we will once again be able to dine creekside.

Some folks don’t realize that our longtime Santa Cruz coffee house, Coffeetopia, actually launched back in the mid-1990’s in downtown Boulder Creek. The original location, now called The Tree House Cafe, is on the right side of Highway 9 going North towards Bear Creek Road, and has, aptly, a big tree growing right through the middle of it.

The Howden Castle just off Highway 9 in Ben Lomond.
The Howden Castle just off Highway 9 in Ben Lomond.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

There are not one but two castles in Ben Lomond. Howden’s Castle, a Scottish style stone structure was built in 1927 on Highway 9 and has been used as a vacation rental in years past. The other one, which recently was for sale and purchased by a young family, is up Alba Road on about 10 acres and is more French in style, built in 1980, featuring a movie theater and secret bar.

Locals who drive along Highway 236 in Boulder Creek have come to expect to see the cheerful, seasonally shifting decorations that preside over the corner of The Kinder property. Every holiday and season is welcomed with large-scale characters, symbolic decor and bric a brac...even after the family home burned down and is being rebuilt, the decorations have continued throughout.

Along with the rest of the lore surrounding The Brookdale Lodge, it was sadly not that surprising when the famous, original mural of James Dean was painted over by one of the owners. And then repainted in a weird, cartoonish style. But then in 2018, when Previn Patel dove into rebuilding the lodge with a $4 million investment, he found Salinas-based artist John Carey, who recreated the image of James Dean in a new location of the property along Highway 9.