'Staycation,' all I ever wanted

With travel restricted because of COVID-19, UC Santa Cruz aims to keep on-campus students entertained with a spring break 'staycation' featuring themed dining nights, scavenger hunts, kayak tours, and more during the week of March 20–27

An Adventure Rec day hike brings explorers to new frontiers. (Photo: Sullivan Gaudreault)
An Adventure Rec day hike brings explorers to new frontiers. (Photo by Sullivan Gaudreault)
A kayaking trip with UCSC's Adventure Rec yields impressive views of the Santa Cruz shorel
A kayaking trip with UCSC's Adventure Rec yields impressive views of the Santa Cruz shoreline. (Photo by Meg Mindlin)

Spring break may look a little different this year, but UC Santa Cruz has students covered with a multitude of fun “staycation” events planned for the week of March 20–27. 

According to Colleges, Housing, and Educational Services (CHES), most undergraduate and graduate students living on campus this spring have indicated that they will stay over the break this year, primarily due to travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic. To meet the demand, campus officials have been busy planning activities to keep Slugs engaged, including themed dining nights, “staycation explorations,” scavenger hunts, and recreational activities. 

“On campus with us is the best place you can be right now, and we want to make the experience enjoyable for our students,” said CHES Chief of Staff Jim Grove. 

And that they are. Check out a few of UCSC’s “staycation” offerings:

Dining destinations

UCSC Dining has been busy cooking up plans for its themed dining nights, based on popular spring break destinations. Dining guests will be able to enjoy a “Lake Havasu BBQ,” complete with your BBQ favorites; “Hawaiian Holiday,” filled with traditional Hawaiian and luau dishes; and “Island Hopper,” with seafood-inspired dishes, such as ceviche bowls and jalapeno-lime shrimp. UCSC Dining is also offering meals at a reduced cost—the 14-meal Spring Break package is priced at $87.50, which is equivalent to getting four meals for free. The package is available for purchase beginning March 12.

Meal giveaway

College Student Life has partnered with Dining on a meal raffle, where students will automatically be entered into a drawing to earn one free meal if they’ve indicated that they plan to stay over the spring break. Winners will be able to pick up their meal at one of the dining locations open over the break: Crown/Merrill or Colleges Nine and Ten dining halls. In total, the university plans to give away 10 meals a week until spring break begins.

‘Staycation explorations’ around Santa Cruz

College Student Life is also putting together “Slug Staycations” for students while they have downtime. There will be directions for outdoor self-guided tours (forest, beach, and town), as well as indoor options if you are looking to relax (self-care, which you can do from your room). More information will be posted soon on the college Instagram accounts with the hashtag #slugstaycation.

Scavenger hunts and Instagram challenges

Want to use this opportunity to get to know the campus in a fun and creative way? The Division of Student Affairs and Success will be hosting on-campus scavenger hunts and Instagram challenges over spring break. Follow the Division of Student Affairs and Success Instagram @ucsc.dsas for more details. Scavenger hunts and challenges will begin on Friday, March 19. Be sure to also check out the student-produced Slugcast, your one-stop podcast for Slug life, news, interviews, and more. Find Slugcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. 

Emily Montano (Cowell '24, legal studies and politics) is helping to organize the scavenger hunts and is looking forward to the downtime.

“Given our situation (with COVID-19), I thought staying here would be the safest choice,” Montano said. “I would have had to travel out of state otherwise. Now I can take this opportunity to take some time for myself.”

Enjoy the outdoors 

Are you looking to be active outdoors? Santa Cruz is an outdoor recreation gold mine. Athletics and Recreation’s Adventure Rec staff and student leaders are excited to add to the appeal of a Santa Cruz ‘staycation’ with these local adventures that encourage fun and friendship. First-time kayakers and outdoor adventurers are more than welcome to join.

Athletics and Recreation will be hosting a series of campus day hikes and Santa Cruz Harbor kayak tours as part of the campus’s spring break staycation events. 

Kayak tours on Monterey Bay will be held Monday–Thursday (March 22–25) for $40 per person per tour. Limited spots are available; students will need to register in advance and must show a “Green Badge” for that specific date, confirming clearance to participate. All kayaking gear will be provided.

Campus day hikes will take place at Wilder Ranch State Park, Pogonip, and Henry Cowell State Park. This is an opportunity to experience some of the “special spots” within the upper UCSC campus. Hikes are $13 and range from 5–10 miles long. Registration is required. 

Ryan Nelson (College Nine '24, computer science), who arrived in-person during the winter quarter, hopes spring break will allow him to get more acclimated to the campus and community and enjoy some outdoor fun.

“I decided to stay for personal reasons. I’ve only been on campus for 4 weeks, and I only have 13 weeks left in my very first year of college,” Nelson said. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the town a little bit more, meeting new people, and doing some COVID-safe surfing.” 

Keep up with your COVID testing

Lastly, CHES wants to remind students who are staying on campus that they still need to take part in twice-weekly testing over the break at Merrill Cultural Center. Make sure to use the Health e-Messenger application to make an appointment, Monday–Thursday over spring break (the campus will be closed on Friday). Students who travel will need to sequester for 10 days upon their return.