When you think "California", you think sunshine, beaches, and palm trees, right? Those that know "Cali" a little better may describe rugged mountains and majestic forests, or top agriculture exports like grapes, strawberries and artichokes. Santa Cruz County culminates each of these Californian elements, all in one impressively compact destination -- offering a multitude of experiences for unforgettable meetings and events.
How can meeting planners incorporate these authentic coastal California attributes into their meeting program? That's easy – read on!
Just 80 miles south of San Francisco, and about 30 miles to San Jose International Airport, Santa Cruz County offers the antidote to big city meetings, but with the convenience of nearby city airlift. This proximity to the Bay Area makes Santa Cruz a natural off-site destination for some of the most innovative and influential companies in the US. A mild year-round climate (and reputed 300 days of sunshine a year) allows flexibility in planning for outdoor activities during the non-summer months, when local rates also tend to be lower.
The area's venues are as varied as the topography. A mix of independent and flagged, full-service properties accommodate groups of up to 200+ attendees, with close proximity to the waves, wines, and woods of Santa Cruz. These intimate conference venues offer diverse, scenic settings and personalized coordination -- perfect for structured board retreats, inspiring strategy sessions, motivating sales teams, or conducting trainings. Aside from standard meeting rooms, Santa Cruz venues offer break-out spaces by way of patios, lounges, pool decks, gardens, and more. A professional sporting arena and various multi-use facilities can accommodate larger conferences or small trade shows.
Food & Wine
The broader agricultural region, known as the "Salad Bowl", overlaps into Santa Cruz County. Berries, artichokes and cruciferous vegetables are just a few of the abundant crops easily accessed by Santa Cruz chefs. The current farm-to-table trend of utilizing local and sustainable meats, dairy, and produce is common practice for most Santa Cruz restaurants. Meeting planners can collaborate with their venue catering team to create themed menus or tasting games to compliment the event and reflect the local bounty. And what California dining experience is complete without California wine? The Santa Cruz Mountain wine region, known for boutique and small production wineries, offers meeting planners a departure from the typical wine trail experience. Groups can sip, swirl and savor from within an intimate tasting room, at an industrial area "wine-walk," or right in their hotel lounge (most full-service facilities carry local brands).
With great year-round weather, it's no surprise Santa Cruz is an active community. Most locals hike, mountain bike, or surf (Or all three!). Groups and meeting attendees can get a taste of the Santa Cruz lifestyle with stimulating team building activities. Planners can pitch ideas like zip-lining through the canopy of a redwood forest, or exploring miles of scenic trails through geocaching. The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary offers endless opportunities for water sports, wildlife viewing, and visiting scientific research facilities. For a group who prefers to engage the right-brain, local service providers can set up one-of-kind, group art projects. An instructed drumming session, by a renowned percussionist, can help establish an undiscovered group rhythm and sense of community.
Although we've just scratched the surface on this fantastic destination, we think meeting planners can agree that Santa Cruz County offers boundless opportunities for authentic, coastal meetings and events. Visit Santa Cruz County is happy to assist you with setting up site tours, selecting a venue, and navigating the multitude of Santa Cruz experiences you won't want your group to miss. Let's Cruz!