Unleash Your Inner Explorer!

Things to Do in Santa Cruz

Centrally located in the vibrant city of Santa Cruz, CA, Hotel Paradox offers a gateway to an eclectic range of activities and experiences. Our team of California locals knows exactly where to go in Santa Cruz, and we’re happy to share some of our favorites, from the usual guidebook highlights to the true insider spots. Come escape the ordinary and embrace adventure at Hotel Paradox.

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      • ATTRACTIONS & ENTERTAINMENT

      Big Basin Redwoods State Park

      21 Miles | 43 Minutes Driving

      California's oldest state park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park features over 18,000 acres of redwood trees, spectacular waterfalls, and campsites, as well as over 80 miles of hiking trails. Visitors can hike through lush redwood forest and experience wildlife such as deer, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and various species of birds. There are four different campgrounds in the park and a total of 146 campsites.

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        • ATTRACTIONS & ENTERTAINMENT

        Mount Hermon Adventures

        6.9 Miles | 16 Minutes Driving | 59 Minutes Biking

        Enjoy guided tours through the Redwood Forest with Mount Hermon Redwood Canopy Tours. Each tour lasts two hours and includes two suspension bridges and six zip lines. Two certified tour guides lead groups of up to eight visitors through the beautiful coastal redwood forest, sharing the history of the area and their knowledge of the forests. Kids must be ten years old or older to participate.

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          • ATTRACTIONS & ENTERTAINMENT

          Roaring Camp

          73 Miles | 59 Minutes Biking | 16 Minutes Driving

          With steam engines dating back to the 1890s, the Roaring Camp Railroad offers a fascinating way to step back in time and a spectacular experience in nature. Choose from two exciting routes to travel: the Redwood Forest Steam Train, which heads through redwoods to Bear Mountain, or the Santa Cruz Beach Train to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Come Christmas time, kids won't want to miss the Candy Cane Train!

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            • ATTRACTIONS & ENTERTAINMENT

            Año Nuevo State Park

            22.1 Miles | 2h 19 Minutes Biking | 35 Minutes Driving

            Located north of Santa Cruz on Highway 1, Año Nuevo State Park is the world's largest mainland breeding ground for northern elephant seals. While seals can be seen year-round at Año Nuevo, the best time for viewing is during the breeding season from mid-December to the end of March. You are required to reserve a guided tour to visit the park during the breeding season.

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              • ATTRACTIONS & ENTERTAINMENT

              Natural Bridges State Park

              4.2 Miles | 1h 8 Minutes Walking | 22 Minutes Biking | 14 Minutes Driving

              The Natural Bridges State Park, with its iconic natural rock bridge, is ideal for watching shore and ocean birds, migrating whales, and seals and otters cavorting in the shallow waters. At low tide, tide pools are filled with sea stars, crabs, sea anemones, and other ocean life. From mid-October to late January, the park’s canyons and eucalyptus groves draw thousands of beautiful Monarch Butterflies.

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                • ATTRACTIONS & ENTERTAINMENT

                The Mystery Spot

                3.5 Miles | 26 Minutes Biking | 10 Minutes Driving

                The Mystery Spot is a circular area in the redwood forests where the effects of physics, gravity, perception, and height do not appear to behave normally. Discovered in 1939, the area is the subject of much speculation as to the cause of this scientific anomaly, with explanations ranging from extra-terrestrial activity to geological irregularities. There is also a nearby hiking trail and a gift shop.

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                  • BEACHES

                  Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

                  1.1 Miles | 20 Minutes Walking | 5 Minutes Biking | 7 Minutes Driving

                  The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been the go-to attraction in Santa Cruz for over 100 years. Home to famous rides such as the Giant Dipper roller coaster and the 1911 Looff Carousel, the boardwalk is one of the only beachfront amusement parks in the country. Join generations of Santa Cruz locals and visitors by creating your own lasting memories at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk!

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                    • BEACHES

                    Santa Cruz Beaches

                    1.1 Miles | 20 Minutes Walking | 5 Minutes Biking | 7 Minutes Driving

                    Situated on the Monterey Bay, Santa Cruz, California is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the Central Coast. Whether you're interested in surfing, beachcombing, wildlife watching, sunbathing or simply relaxing at the beach, you're sure to discover the perfect Santa Cruz beach to fulfill your pursuits. A number of popular Santa Cruz beaches are located close to the Hotel Paradox.

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                      • CHURCHES

                      Mission Santa Cruz

                      0.7 Miles | 16 Minutes Walking | 7 Minutes Biking | 6 Minutes Driving

                      Established by Padre Lasuen on September 25, 1791, Mission la Exaltacion de la Santa Cruz was the 12th of the 21 California religious outposts. In addition to the beautiful Holy Cross Church built on the site of the original mission church in 1889, the adjacent museum—the only surviving mission building—showcases a fascinating collection of historic vestments, vessels, and candlesticks.

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                        • MUSEUMS

                        Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

                        0.5 Miles | 7 Minutes Walking | 3 Minutes Biking | 3 Minutes Driving

                        When it comes to fun things to do in Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History is one of the best. In addition to fascinating exhibitions, events, and programs focused on contemporary art and local history, the museum hosts an array of exciting community events on the first and third Friday evenings of each month, as well as seasonal family festivals and educational seminars.

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                          • MUSEUMS

                          Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

                          2.3 Miles | 41 Minutes Walking | 12 Minutes Biking | 10 Minutes Driving

                          Located in the historic Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse, the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum celebrates over 100 years of surfing in Santa Cruz. In addition to antique redwood plank surfboards and early edition wetsuits, visitors will enjoy stunning views of Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay.

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                            • SHOPPING

                            Downtown Santa Cruz

                            0.6 Miles | 7 Minutes Walking | 4 Minutes Biking | 3 Minutes Driving

                            Ask one hundred different people for their favorite part of downtown Santa Cruz and you’re likely to get one hundred different answers. From the unique and eclectic shops and restaurants to a cutting-edge music scene, family-friendly activities, and year-round schedule of events, there’s truly an attraction for everyone in the vibrant and inviting district of downtown Santa Cruz, California.

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                              • SHOPPING

                              Capitola Village

                              5.2 Miles | 30 Minutes Biking |11 Minutes Driving

                              Capitola Village is an upscale historic seaside resort on the coast in Santa Cruz County, just six miles south of Santa Cruz. This quaint resort town offers visitors a wide range of shopping, dining, and beach activities. The oldest beach resort on the Pacific Coast, Capitola offers remarkably pleasant weather year-round. Be sure to check out the Capitola Wharf for beautiful sunset views.

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                                • UNIVERSITIES

                                University of California Santa Cruz

                                2.3 Miles | 20 Minutes Biking | 10 Minutes Driving

                                Less than five miles from Hotel Paradox, the UCSC campus overlooks Monterey Bay from a stunning hilltop location tucked amid towering redwood forests. Highly lauded for its liberal arts curriculum, the university’s research bodies include: the Institute of Marine Sciences, Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics, UC Observatories/Lick Observatory, and the Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research.

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