Santa Cruz offers some unique experiences. For our inter-generational travel in California, we chose to see the Redwoods on the Roaring Camp Railroad and enjoy a quintessential beach boardwalk experience on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
The Roaring Camp Railroad is located just outside Santa Cruz. In the summer, you can take the railroad from the Boardwalk to the mountains. The railroad is magical, set in a mountainous redwood forest. On the day we rode the railroad, it was raining lightly with a fog and it was easy to imagine prehistoric creatures roaming the landscape. When our 1917 Steam Engine appeared, it was like something out of a movie with steam billowing from it like a snorting dragon. For Harry Potter fans, the experience was just like stepping on to Platform 9 3/4.
The ride itself was interesting to all generations. Seeing the Redwoods by train is a great experience for younger children who cannot walk far and for grandparents not up to the hike. The added excitement of experiencing the train made them all the more magical. Watching the engineer switch the tracks and hearing the horn blow brought smiles to my pre-teens face (a rare sighting). Everyone was happy with the experience. The Camp is clean and makes a great place for lunch with many kid-friendly options. The staff was very nice and the entire experience was amazing. Roaring Camp Railroad sponsors fun events on holidays like an Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween Ghost train, Day out With Thomas and much more. As difficult as it is to find something that everyone enjoys, this makes our list of the most fun California activities!
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is truly the quintessential beach boardwalk experience. It brought back childhood memories to Grandma and gave great new experiences to our children. With a roller coaster on the National Registry along with many modern rides, an arcade and midway, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has fun for everyone. Don’t pass up the best lollipops in the nation–created by Kendon’s in San Jose, CA, these lollipops are divine! We were there on a rainy day so we did not get to ride too many rides, but it was still a fun time and my kids only wanted to stay longer.
We had lunch at the Picnic Basket, a local sandwich shop dedicated to simple, delicious food and treats, seasoned with lots of love. Local farmers, foragers, and artisans, including the famous Penny Ice Creamery, are the cornerstone of their seasonal menu. Lunch was a HIT with Mom and Grandma but not as much with the kids since the food is a bit upscale for their taste. However, the ice cream, which is handmade by the owner, was a surefire hit with the kids. We recommend this place for lunch to our friends whose kids’ palate is more developed or to adults wanting a quick delicious bite. Ice Cream for Everyone!