Skip to site content
The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Pacific Meeting Guide: Santa Cruz

Courtesy Santa Cruz CVB

When a town has its own bayfront amusement park, visitors naturally expect a fun-filled destination. Santa Cruz, Calif., where riding the waves and the roller coasters can be a daily adventure, does not disappoint.

The city of 60,000, on the Monterey Bay between San Francisco and Monterey, never lacks for new, and often edgy, attractions and activities. Here are a few of its latest developments.

Santa Cruz’s newest hotel, the 170-room Hotel Paradox, is a high-tech downtown property with 12,000 square feet of meeting space. Beyond its ballroom, meeting planners can book its Solaire Restaurant and Bar or the pool deck for a more casual meeting. The Grove Room’s glass walls are etched with a full-color panoramic redwood forest, in keeping with hotel’s mission to pay homage to its surroundings.

Groups of eight can experience the forest in a new way with Mount Hermon’s E.C.O. (Experience, Conserve, Outdoors) Tours. After some training in rope climbing, participants ascend 50 feet into a California Coast Live Oak to see the forest from above. The group then heads into the Santa Cruz Mountains with an experienced naturalist to forage for seasonal fungi, elderberry, redwood sorel and other edibles.

A $5.5 million roller coaster will debut at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk this summer. The Undertow will zip and turn at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. Passengers ride in cars of four, with each pair  the ride is different each time, depending on the weight and position of people in the car.

What does a sea lion eat? How cold is the water? These and other questions can be answered on a free tour of the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. The Seymour Marine Discovery Center, with the city of Santa Cruz, offers the guided 30-minute tours every Saturday and Sunday year round.

Chaminade Resort and Spa’s dog friendly policy allows guests to bring their furry companions to stay at the hotel and enjoy some of the same indoor and outdoor amenities as their owners. Dogs leave with a new water bowl and tasty treats from a local pet bakery.

Home to the oldest operating leather tannery west of the Mississippi until it closed in 2001, the eight-acre grounds of A.K. Salz Tannery has become an artist and performance complex. Retail shops, galleries, and performance spaces are set around a sunny courtyard and cafe.

Santa Cruz County is on track to be the home to a train excursion along the coastline. Iowa Pacific Holdings will launch the Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Railway this spring. Vintage locomotives will pull two-level dome cars, authentically restored parlor cars and comfortable coaches. The train will run every weekend with stops along the coast.