Family in Santa Cruz
Things to Do

Things to Do in Santa Cruz


family things to do in santa cruz

Family Fun Adventures - Santa Cruz County Has It All!

Whatever pursuit you prefer, Santa Cruz offers uniquely diverse and exciting opportunities for recreation, relaxation and fun. Experience the our coastal beaches, stroll along trails of one of our many State Parks, or experience our lush Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Growing Region. The possibilities are endless here in Santa Cruz County.

Enjoy boutique shopping in Downtown Santa Cruz, on Pacific Avenue, or try Capitola Village for a quaint seaside shopping experience. Immerse yourself in local and marine culture at the Museum of Art History, Natural History Museum of Santa Cruz, or the UCSC Seymour Discovery Center.

You can't beat Roaring Camp Railroads or the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for family fun. Travel further to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and National Marine Sanctuary. This trip to Monterey is worth the day trip and just a quick 45 minute drive.

Whether visiting University of Santa Cruz, strolling downtown galleries on Pacific Avenue, taking in a FREE Friday Night Concert at the Beach, or just getting outside to enjoy the vast natural beauty of Santa Cruz's parks and trails, in Santa Cruz, you'll find plenty of things to do and everything you need to embrace the best of life's pleasures.

Art & Culture

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History


Looking for an educational travel experience?  Visit one of Santa Cruz County’s  museums, just a short drive from Chaminade Resort & Spa.

  • The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH) and Abbott Square is the newest art and dining hub of downtown Santa Cruz. With ever changing exhibits, Friday night music and more, the MAH and Abbott square is definitely worth checking out during a stroll in downtown Santa Cruz.
  • The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History offers a variety of exhibits exploring this region's unique natural and cultural history. Located just 1 block from the Pacific Ocean and just 10 minutes from Chaminade Resort & Spa, the museum of Natural History is a great place to connect kids with nature, and inspire stewardship of the natural world.
  • The Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Laboratory offers truly unique opportunity to visit a working marine laboratory. Complete with exhibit halls, aquarium, touch tanks, tours to marine mammal research overlook, and much more, you will not want to miss out.
  • The Monterey Bay Sanctuary Exploration Center, is an interactive, multi-media eco-learning experience with hands-on activities, wide-screen real-time underwater video, and other exciting exhibits fit for the whole family. 

Monterey Bay Adventures

beach sunset

Kayaking - "One if by land, and two if by sea", the saying goes, so bring a friend! Elkhorn Slough is one of the last coastland wetlands in California. Located on the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, 3.5 miles from Moss Landing, it has been described in the San Francisco Chronicle as the best place for wildlife viewing along the length of California Highway 1. This dramatic backdrop has wildlife year-round - otters, seals, sea lions and an infinite variety of birds. Visit Kayak Connection which has rental locations in Santa Cruz and pick your adventure!

Learn to Surf - Santa Cruz's nickname is Surf City USA. So, what better place to give it a try? Surfing is a tradition thousands of years old, passed down from generation to generation by Hawaiian kings. Learning to surf isn't just about trying to stand up and catch a wave, it's also about adventure, exploration, ocean safety, and surfing etiquette. Ready to make a splash? Club Ed Surf School -

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding - The increasingly popular Stand-up Paddleboarding, or SUP: not surfing, not canoeing, not kayaking, but a way to get a unique perspective on the Monterey Bay while working your core muscles. Given its popularity, there are many companies within Santa Cruz where you can learn to SUP and rent equipment.

Connect With Nature in Santa Cruz County

pink and orange sunset

Santa Cruz County boasts 14 state parks covering a range of terrain from wave-swept beaches to rugged mountain ridges. These vast expanses of preserved land are a testament to conservation efforts that have been ongoing for over a century. Get the best of what Santa Cruz has to offer by starting a trail in a thicket of redwoods and ending on the sandy shore.

Though Redwood National Park may not fit into your travel schedule, two of Santa Cruz’s State Parks feature these ancient trees:

  • Encompassing 18,000 acres California’s oldest state park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is home to the largest continuous stand of ancient growth redwoods south of San Francisco.
  • With 20 miles of hiking trails Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park includes a variety of forested areas including redwoods, mixed evergreens, riparian, ponderosa pine, as well as rare ancient marine deposits called Santa Cruz sandhills.

Follow the following links for information and maps on the other 12 State Parks in Santa Cruz County:

If you are looking to stay on property, Chaminade has three miles of scenic hiking trails stretched over its 300 acre property. Click here to view trail map.

High-Rise Canopy Tour & Zip Line Adventure

group zip lining

Redwood Canopy Tours at Mount Hermon offers visitors an exciting eco-adventure into the redwood canopy of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Enjoy the coastal redwood forest from the unique perspective only a zip-line canopy tour can offer. The two hour guided tour includes six zip-lines and two sky bridges at heights of up to 150 feet. Each tour of up to eight is led by two certified guides who share their ecological knowledge and bring the history of the Santa Cruz redwood forest to life. The Redwood Canopy Tours are the original canopy tour zip-lines in the redwood forest and are the only facility of its kind in the region.

Learn more.

Train Rides - Forest to Sea

Forest Steam Train

Roaring Camp, located just six miles up the hill from Santa Cruz, is a re-creation of an 1880's logging town, operating trains every day of the year except for Christmas Day. This heritage railway boasts authentic 1880's steam locomotives operating on our Redwood Forest Steam Train excursion and 1920's era Beach Trains to Santa Cruz. Choose your ride between two main rides:

  • Beach Train - A 3-hour round trip ride, from Roaring Camp to the Beach Boardwalk.
  • Steam Train - A one-hour round-trip featuring a ride up Bear Mountain.

Roaring Camp also has special events throughout the year. Visit for train schedules and more information.

World Class Golfing

golf course


With world-class hill-top and beach front courses, Santa Cruz is a golfer’s paradise.We recommend the following courses, located just minutes from Chaminade.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk


The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is recognized as the best seaside park in the world. Providing amusement thrills and family fun for over a century, the admission free boardwalk is quintessential California—renowned for its exciting rides, remarkable history, unique beach setting, and friendly attitude. Beyond the rides the Boardwalk is home to the largest selection of games in Northern California, a two-story miniature golf course, and laser tag arena.

Vist for more information, operating schedule and much more. 

Performing Arts & Entertainment

guitar and pick

Whether you’re looking for classical music, theater, concerts of well-known artists, or the local music scene, Santa Cruz has it all.

  • Moe's Alley features the best in live entertainment 6 nights a week. From Blues to Salsa, Rhumba to Reggae, we have something for everyone to enjoy. Our spacious music hall, friendly staff, full bar, outdoor patio, and best of all great live music, create an unforgettable experience. Locted just one mile from Chaminade Resort & Spa!
  • The Catalyst Club is located in Downtown Santa Cruz along Pacific Avenue. This top music club brings in many big name (and small name) acts from a variety of different music genres. 
  • Rio Theatre For The Performing Arts books popular artists, authors and performers for year round entertainment.
  • Grateful Dead Archive is located at the McHenry Library on the campus of University of Santa Cruz. The Grateful Dead Archive is made up of nearly a thousand boxes of documents and recordings as well as hundreds of objects, equipment, and framed art, all of which were created or collected by the members of this iconic band over the course of decades of making their music, touring, operating their business, and connecting with their fans
  • A professional repertory company and acclaimed as one of the nation's top ten most influential Shakespeare companies. Learn more at