Bleisure in the Santa Cruz Mountains

The Santa Cruz Mountains provide an ideal setting for bleisure—a travel industry term for spending business and leisure time in a single destination. Filled with nearly half a million acres of forest, hiking trails, bikeable backroads, farms, and vineyards, the coastal range appeals to working travelers and vacationers alike.

The established trend of bleisure includes two main categories. The first covers business travelers who bring friends or family along to share the leisure parts of a stay. The second consists of travelers who tack a day or two of free time onto their business trips—most often with friends or family.

Gen Z and Millennials are the most likely to extend their stay or take a friend or family member along on a business trip this year, according to Hilton Worldwide’s 2024 Trends Report. Hilton found more than a third of business travelers in those age groups plan to add pre- or post-trip leisure days to their journeys in 2024, while 29 percent of Gen Z and 27 percent of Millennials will add at least a plus-one to their trips.

Hilton also found that business travelers who extend their visits tend to do so for days, not weeks, so they want fun, fast, easily accessible activities to take full advantage of a short span of time. The Santa Cruz Mountains fill that bill perfectly.

Read on for a sampling of highlights for bleisure in the Santa Cruz Mountains, with a focus on key locations such as the Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley for meetings and rejuvenation and, for add-ons, Mount Hermon Adventures, Roaring Camp, mountain wineries, the Grove Felton, and Felton Music Hall.

Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley

Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley makes a perfect home base for meetings in the mountains. Set in Scotts Valley, on the outskirts of the City of Santa Cruz, the convenient foothill location places groups just 33 miles from Silicon Valley’s San Jose International Airport, 10 minutes from Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, and 15 minutes from downtown Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

The hotel features six rooms for meetings, professional catering and other group support staff, and the latest in meetings technology. Attendees unwind at the heated outdoor pool, at the fitness center, and in the 178 guest rooms—all with picturesque views of the surrounding forest. The Stonehouse Bar & Grill adds a memorable place to network on-site or relax with colleagues over local wines, creative cocktails, and coastal California cuisine.

Mount Hermon Adventures

A short drive from Scotts Valley brings vacationers and team builders to Mount Hermon Adventures, known for its sky-scraping redwood trees, zip-line canopy tours, and ropes courses. These attractions serve for excellent team-building exercises, promoting camaraderie and teamwork among colleagues as well as friends and family on extended stays.

Open to all, the forest environment and hiking trails make for a refreshing break from urban life—and the focus required of meetings, helping to rejuvenate spirits and creativity.

Roaring Camp Railroads

Set in the quaint little town of Felton, Roaring Camp Railroads offers a unique blend of local history and leisure via train trips through the towering redwoods. Rides aboard Roaring Camp’s nineteenth century steam trains offer a particularly nostalgic and educational journey back in time—a memorable bonding experience equally suited to friends, family, and business groups. Rides on Roaring Camp’s early twentieth century cars wind through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to the beach in Santa Cruz.

Beyond the depot, Roaring Camp makes an ideal destination for events. Groups can spread out for picnics on180 acres of meadows and forest, hold impromptu sessions in rustic outdoor settings, and gather indoors in Bret Harte Hall, an 1880s-themed event center.

Local Wineries

The Santa Cruz Mountains hold one of California’s first and finest wine appellations. Defined by its high-altitude vineyards, mineral-rich soil, and microclimates cooled by the Pacific Ocean, the region holds more than 70 wineries, many organic and all offering their own charm and selection of wines.

Tasting tours allow visitors to sample some of the best local vintages while taking in some of the 200 vineyard views. Notable wineries welcoming groups as well as individuals include Big Basin Vineyards in Boulder Creek, Inversion Wines and Kissed by an Angel in Scotts Valley, and Hallcrest Vineyards in Felton. Many of the local wineries offer private rooms or outdoor spaces ideal for meetings or events.

The Grove Felton

In the mood to experience a culinary sense of place, drop by the Grove Felton, where the executive chef and owner Jessica Yarr serves a hyper-locally inspired breakfast and lunch. Born and raised in Felton, where her parents still own the town’s iconic Bigfoot Discovery Museum opposite the main entrance to Henry Cowell Redwood State Park, the award-winning chef pays tribute to the surrounding forests, farmlands, and community in the character of her cafe and bakery.

Her plant-forward, farm-to-table dishes range from avocado toast with watermelon relish on house-made country sourdough to a smoked beet Reuben with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut on mountain rye.

Felton Music Hall

Even if your attendees don’t tack on an extra weekend in the mountains, they may want to cut loose with live music at the end of the day. Felton Music Hall showcases a wide variety of local and touring artists and bands, offering a great way to unwind and bond with colleagues after a long day of work. The vibrant atmosphere and eclectic lineup of artists ensure something for everyone to enjoy.

It’s also a fantastic place for individuals to experience the mountains’ music scene and local culture—complete with Santa Cruz–style small bites, salads, burgers, tacos, wraps, and signature sandwiches from Shockwave Food, the restaurant on-site.

Bleisure travelers find the benefits of a working trip expanded exponentially in a region as richly scenic and diverse as the Santa Cruz Mountains. With their blend of mild Mediterranean climate, awe-inspiring nature, first-class accommodations, and truly endless activities, the mountains provide an ideal backdrop for productive business and unforgettable holidays. You can count on every aspect to contribute to your meetings’ success and groups’ personal enjoyment.

By Annette Burden