When Peter and I want to get away for the weekend we have numerous choices in our home state of California, but one Northern California coastal town we frequently visit is Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is known for its Boardwalk and cliffside surfers, but we love the fact that it not only has gorgeous beaches but provides us with old-growth redwood forests with multiple hiking trail options for peaceful nature walks. We’ve also found that its laid-back vibe makes it the perfect location for a relaxing getaway.
On our recent weekend getaway to Santa Cruz, we chose to stay at the Chaminade Resort & Spa. This Northern California resort is located on a mountaintop nestled between large redwood and eucalyptus trees with sweeping views of the ocean. It’s a combination that we found truly unique.
Northern California Resort: Chaminade Resort & Spa
Chaminade Resort & Spa is an award-winning resort, luxurious and playful at the same time. While the resort property is 200 acres in total, the villas housing the guest rooms, spa, and restaurants are all located within walking distance of one another and all surrounded by towering eucalyptus trees.
Recently renovated, this Northern California resort’s guestrooms have a charming feel that embodies the Santa Cruz spirit. Our room featured an abacus headboard, comfy feather bed, funky lamps, and colorful quirky touches like the oversized dominos that acted as our room number. In addition to our deluxe guest room, there are junior suites and luxury suites (and Fido is welcome, if you decide to bring him along).
The property has two restaurants on site: Linwood’s Bar & Grill and Sunset Restaurant. We had two delicious meals at Linwood’s, seated overlooking the ocean with a view all the way to Monterey Bay and even a glimpse of the Santa Cruz Mountains. A great bar bites menu, tasty margaritas, and a really decadent chocolate layer cake were the highlights. Everything we tasted was fresh, flavorful, and artfully presented.
The grounds of this Northern California resort are perfect for both nature lovers and those with an active lifestyle. There is the requisite heated pool and whirlpool tub, a fitness center, tennis courts, volleyball courts, and a croquet lawn. Additionally, there are a number of hiking trails that meander through this large property, providing ample opportunities for both novice and experienced hikers. If you are looking for something a bit different in the outdoor arena, Chaminade Resort & Spa now offers a Geocaching Adventure Course for its guests. Get your hiking in while looking for caches and get rewarded for your efforts!
Our favorite amenity of this Northern California resort was the fantastic nature trails. On Saturday we spent the morning enjoying some crisp coastal air and the gorgeous surrounding environment. I love being outdoors and this resort was perfect for doing just that.
There are two major hiking trails at Chaminade Resort & Spa, blue trail, and red trail. The blue trail is 1.75 miles and the red trail is 1.25 miles. We did the red trail at a leisurely pace. The private path winds you through Chaminade’s own redwood and eucalyptus forest. There are some steep sections and winding paths along the trail, so be sure to walk carefully.
Weekend Getaway in Northern California – Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz is the quintessential beach town. Everywhere you look there are cars (and bikes!) with surfboards and surf racks. The dress code is casual—shorts, flip-flops, tanks—and there is nothing pretentious about this town.
If you only have a weekend in Santa Cruz make sure to do/visit these:
This oceanside amusement park is fun for all ages. From people watching to roller coasters, saltwater taffy to fried foods, street performers to arcades, there is something for everyone. In addition to all the rides, there are free concerts and movies, miniature golf, bowling and an arcade featuring games both old and new. Definitely worth a few hours of your time.
There are some great shopping and food in the downtown area of Santa Cruz. Most of the shops are independently owned and operated, from hip clothing stores to art galleries, surf shops, toy stores and the obscure, like the Academy of Arcana Myth, Magick, and Mysterie! Shop. If you’re hungry, you’ll find some great food, a lot of it uber healthy, local, organic and fresh. Coffee shops and bars are on every block, so there is no problem handling your thirst. And the myriad street performers will keep you entertained whether you are strolling around or sitting enjoying a cup of tea or frosty craft beer.
Santa Cruz West Cliff Drive
This 3-mile scenic walking/biking trail (6 miles round-trip) follows the Pacific Ocean around Seal Rock and provides you with some really gorgeous (postcard-worthy) views. You’ll see surfers and swimmers, maybe even whales and dolphins, and you can make a pit stop at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum to learn about local surf history.
Check out the surfers
Santa Cruz is one of the premier surfing spots in California, offering waves for all levels of surfers. For spectators, there are a number of spots worthy of your time to oooh and ahhhh. Check out Steamer Lane which features hardcore, professional surfers; the Hook over by 41st Avenue, where locals rule the roost; 30th & East Cliff, also home to professional surfers; and, Natural Bridges, where surfers battle kelp around the large arched rock that is home to flocks of birds.
And last, but not least, spend some time on the beach. Get some sand between your toes, walk along the surf, or just hang out and watch the kiddies frolic or the surfers catch some waves.
I hope this post has inspired you to visit this Northern California resort and spend some time outdoors.