Three arches carved out of sandstone by the elements inspired the naming of the area. Though only the central bridge remains today, this national park offers a convenient way to experience the rugged Pacific coastline. In addition to hiking and biking trails, the shoreline is a great place to view wildlife such as shore birds and migrating whales. A popular low tide activity is to explore the tidepools and examine a myriad of marine life. The 65-acre park is also home to thousands of migrating monarch butterflies during the cooler months of the year, roughly October through early February. It’s the only State Monarch Preserve in California. Guided walks and tide pool outings are offered by the park service, as are tours of the monarch butterfly habitat on weekends during fall and winter.
A fun outing for families and train aficionados, Roaring Camp offers visitors an historic glimpse of California’s golden past. Catch a ride with one of two unique rail excursions; The Redwood Forest Steam Train, which rambles up Bear Mountain through the area’s famous redwood forest, or The Santa Cruz Beach Train, a scenic three-hour trip along the San Lorenzo River to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Roaring Camp itself is a reproduction of an 1880s mill town, and features heritage activities such as gold panning, candle making, even blacksmithing.
This classic California attraction is last remaining major seaside amusement park on the West Coast, and has been a highlight for visiting families since it first opened in 1907. Today the site offers more than three dozen rides, the largest game arcade in Northern California, and a pirate-themed miniature golf course spanning two stories. There are also dozens of places to eat and drink, offering everything from craft beer and chowder to classic fair food like corn dogs and deep-fried Twinkies. The amusement park offers a ride through history as well. The 1911 Looff Carousel and 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster are National Historic Landmarks. In fact, the entire property is a State Historic Landmark. Admission to the boardwalk is free. Rides are open daily Memorial Day through Labor Day, plus weekends and holidays in fall and spring. Arcades and bowling are open year-round.
Looking to get your heart pumping? Santa Clara Valley is home to California’s Great America, a sprawling 100-acre amusement park filled with thrill rides, water attractions, live entertainment and more. The Intel Museum offers a chance to go behind the scenes in the high-tech world of Silicon Valley. Experience 10,000 square feet of insight and interactive learning, including what it’s like inside an ultra-clean, automated silicon chip factory.