A Family Vacation in Santa Cruz, CA

My family has the pleasure of visiting Santa Cruz every few years to visit relatives.  As SoCal natives, we have spent our fair share of time on the beach, yet the distinctive Santa Cruz beach style always transports us to vacation mode.  A funky beach vibe, laid back locals, and plenty of outdoor activities and adventures make Santa Cruz a great place to stay and play.


Kid Friendly Attractions

Santa Cruz boasts numerous family-friendly activities.  Trekaroo families rave about Roaring Camp and the Big Trees Railroad that takes your family back in time aboard an old-fashioned train ride into the beautiful Redwood forest.  The western most train depot ends at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a nostalgic amusement park full of salty air, sea breezes, and an incredible lineup of thrilling rides for kids of all ages.   The Looff Carousel has been in continuous operation since 1911; the Giant Dipper roller coaster first arrived in 1924.  Kiddie rides offer small-time thrills for the younger set; my favorite feature is that toddlers/babies requiring a chaperone ride free!  Take a walk on the city pier to enjoy restaurants and a fantastic look at the bay.  You may even spot a family of sea lions who call the pier home.

Find more kid-friendly activities in Santa Cruz.


Fantastic Lodging

If the hustle and bustle of the busy pier and boardwalk get to be too much, escape the crowds and head to the Chaminade Resort and Spa.  The hotel is tucked back into the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains and offers amazing views of the city and distant bay, still just a short drive away from downtown Santa Cruz.  We enjoyed a spacious two-room suite with a great forest view patio.  I am not normally a morning gal, but with the crisp morning mountain air, early birds flitting about, and the sun peaking through the trees, I was in love with my patio!  A warm drink in hand and a blanket to snuggle with, I could have sat on this patio all day!

In addition to an exceptional patio, the resort boasts luxury accommodations, two on-site restaurants, a spa, swimming pool, lighted tennis courts, volleyball court, and croquet.

Read my full review of the Chaminade Resort and Spa.


Nature & Beaches

To get inspired by nature, enjoy one of the Chaminade’s connected trailheads;  three miles of trails offer families the perfect chance to explore nature, all within a comfortable distance to the hotel and its amenities.

Santa Cruz also boast’s an amazing coastline.  To explore the best of Santa Cruz’s natural beach beauty, head to Natural Bridge State Beach.  The beach overlooks a stunning view of the natural bridge and hosts a monarch butterfly haven in the spring months.  Take the short (and easily accessible) walk to the tide pools on the western edge of the park.  Kids will love finding small crabs, anemones, and more in the rocks and sediment.


Disclosure: I received complimentary lodging and activities for the purpose of this review.  I was not required to state any particular view; all opinions are my own.

Travel with kids to: CA |CO | DC| FL | HI | IL |MA | NC | NJ | NY | OR| PA| TN | TX | UT | VA | WA

About the author

Katie Bodell is Trekaroo’s Blog Editor, a freelance writer, a happy wife to her best friend, and a mom to three sweet California girls. She loves the Bible, learning & research, musical theater, indy music, artsy films, languages, and diverse cultural encounters. Her husband is thankful that google can now answer all of her perpetual random questions.

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