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Santa Cruz Attractions

Santa Cruz: Quintessential California

Santa Cruz: Quintessential California

Santa Cruz California is the quintessential beach town rich in history, art, culture, natural beautiful and is home to the oldest seaside wooden roller coaster. The perfect year-round destination for families and couples, Santa Cruz provides visitors and locals alike a diverse range of attractions. Come Visit Santa Cruz and experience what makes our beach town so unique. Also don't forget to check out our Santa Cruz experiential packages for the complete vacation getaway.

Looking for some insider tips from experienced travelers? Check out Bay Area Buzz's "Weekend Fun Guide" for top Santa Cruz picks of what to "See & Do", where to "Eat" / "Play" and of course where to "Stay". Click here to read all about their adventure!

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

BEST SEASIDE PARK IN THE WORLD

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 www.BeachBoardwalk.com for more information, operating schedule and much more. 

Outdoor Adventures in Santa Cruz

Hiking Santa Cruz County State Parks & Beaches

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.

World Class Golfing

IT'S ALWAYS A GOOD DAY FOR GOLF

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.

High-Rise Canopy Tour & Zip Line Adventure

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.

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

a family walking on the beach at sunset

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? Contact Club Ed Surf School to get started!

  • Club Ed Surf School - www.club-ed.com

SUP - 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.

Historic Steam Train - Roaring Camp Railroads

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 www.RoaringCamp.com for train schedules and more information.

Charter Sailing

sailboat in front of an amusement park

Spend a relaxing afternoon aboard a sail boat in the middle of the beautiful Monterey Bay. Sail by the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Walton Lighthouse, beautiful beaches, and be sure to keep an eye open for the rich sea life in the bay. A number of charter companies depart from Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, just minutes from Chaminade Resort & Spa.

Arts & Culture

SANTA CRUZ MUSEUMS

museum of art and history sign

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. 

Santa Cruz Performing Arts & Entertainment

actresses getting ready

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

  • With performances throughout the year, the Santa Cruz Chorale presents concerts in a cappella and with orchestras.
  • The Santa Cruz County Actor's Theater is a leading producer of new plays and host to many independent productions at its theater.
  • The Four-Eighteen Project performs dance theater and cultural dance expressions.
  • Rio Theatre and The Catalyst book popular artists that are always a great, fun option.
  • Though you won’t see them performing together there, music lovers will want to check out the Grateful Dead Archive, located at the University of California Santa Cruz.
  • A professional repertory company and acclaimed as one of the nation's top ten most influential Shakespeare companies. Learn more at www.santacruzshakespeare.org
  • 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. Located just one mile from Chaminade Resort & Spa!
Big Basin State Park

SAN LORENZO VALLEY: MEANDERING THE SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS

Once home to a bustling logging industry, the San Lorenzo Valley meanders through the Santa Cruz Mountains following its namesake waterway, the San Lorenzo River. From towering redwood forests, 100 year old steam trains, high flying zipling to award winning wine tasting, the San Lorenzo Valley is a laid back valley brimming with adventure.

Capitola

CAPITOLA: SIP, STROLL, SEA

If Santa Cruz is quitessential, Capitola is quaint. Seaside charm brings visitors to this shopping, dining, sightseeing hub of Santa Cruz County. Just south of Santa Cruz and a few short minutes from Chaminade Resort & Spa, Capitola Village is the Pacific coast’s oldest seaside resort town and one of the county's most beloved areas to shop, stroll and take a dip in the sea.

South County: Adventures South of Santa Cruz

South Santa Cruz County includes the communities of Corralitos, La Selva Beach, Watsonville, Pajaro Dunes, Royal Oaks and Freedom. From gorgeous sunsets at Manresa State Beach, wildlife viewing along the sloughs of Elkhorn Slough to wine tasting at the world-renowed Annie Glass factory outlet.

Santa Cruz things to do
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