San Jose is my hometown, and it’s not “far” from where I’ve been living in the Bay Area, but with traffic adding to the drive time, sometimes it’s nice to just make a visit a staycation! My boys had been asking to visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, so I decided to book a hotel in the South Bay (Silicon Valley) and make it a fun weekend.
Our first stop was the Santa Clara Marriott. We had a great room (at a great rate) overlooking the pool and we stayed in a newly renovated room. It certainly had the resort feel and there were several places to eat/shop nearby, as well as on property. The location was also desirable since it’s just off 2 major freeways and a block away from our other staycation destination, California’s Great America!
I did think it was a bit ambitious to do 2 theme parks back to back, but I decided we should just go for it! We checked into our hotel on a Friday afternoon and after a Saturday morning swim, we headed out through the Santa Cruz Mountains to hit the boardwalk.
I have fond memories of visiting the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as a child, and I love that so much of it is still the same. Parking was a little crazy, so once we did a loop along the main strip, we fortunately found street parking in a nearby residential neighborhood and walked the 8 blocks to get to the attractions.
You can purchase tickets for the rides or get an all day unlimited wristband. We had wristbands and were able to enjoy several rides. A couple of my favorites and Santa Cruz staples are the Giant Dipper and the Haunted Mansion! I was excited to experience both with my family and we had a great day there. The best part, twisted soft serve ice cream cones.
The next day was Sunday and we woke up bright and early for a day of fun at California’s Great America. Since we have been there many times before, we decided to spend the first part of our visit at Boomerang Bay – the water park inside Great America, and I’m so glad we did!!
Boomerang Bay is included in the regular price of admission, but once you step into this part of the park, it’s a whole new experience! The waterpark has slides, a lazy river, wave pool, lagoon and lots of areas to soak in the sun and relax. Plus, there are cabanas you can reserve too!
After some water play and too many Dippin’ Dots, the boys decided they wanted to hit the rest of the park and get on the rides. It was a perfect balance for my kids, the lines weren’t too long and they got to do some of them multiple times. My younger son actually rode the Gold Stryker 2 times by himself…mind you, he barely cleared the 48″ height requirement!
All in all, it was a fun filled weekend, perfect for our crew. We enjoyed being on “vacation” and we weren’t too far from home. I can’t wait until the next time we do it all again!