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5 Outdoor Teambuilding Experiences in Monterey and Santa Cruz, California

Photo of people riding mountain bikes

While many in the U.S. are experiencing record snowfalls and sub-zero temperatures this winter, Monterey and Santa Cruz, California, are sitting at a cool 60 degrees all winter long. With temperate weather and breathtaking natural scenery, California destinations are often on planners’ radars and favorite locales among attendees. 

To maximize soaking up some rays on the California coast and enjoying the weather, many planners might be wondering what activities they can plan for their attendees outside. 

Here are five outdoor teambuilding activities in Monterey and Santa Cruz that will leave your attendees “California Dreamin’” for more adventures.


Formula One Racing School

While most people’s experience with racing might be watching NASCAR or Formula One races on TV, in Monterey, you have the opportunity to experience the rush of a race track yourself. 

Formula One Cars at the Alan Burg Racing School
Formula One Cars at the Alan Burg Racing School

In the destination known for its world-famous car shows, the Allen Berg Racing School (ABRS) is a unique experience that can teach your group how to be a racer. The Allen Berg Racing School is run by former Formula One Championship driver Allen Berg and uses state-of-the-art carbon fiber race cars to provide exhilarating group experiences at the world-famous Laguna Seca Raceway. 

ABRS corporate formula car programs can accommodate meeting and event groups of any size and will help your attendees experience the thrill of a race in a fun and exhilarating, while also safe, environment.  Plus, all curriculum materials, driving apparel, race equipment, technical and instructional support, catered meals and beverages are supplied.

Whale Watching Tours

In between Monterey and Santa Cruz, you can catch a boat departing from Moss Landing for a private whale watching tour. This area is known as a “hot spot” for whales, and the company Oceanic Expeditions can help give your group a private whale watching experience in well-known whale feeding areas such as the National Marine Sanctuary. 

People on a boat watching a whale splash in the water
Whale Watching Tour in Monterey Bay

Oceanic Expeditions can help create a custom wildlife expedition for groups of up to six people, ranging from half- or full-day trips. But whales aren’t the only wildlife your group can see on the private charter trip. The National Marine Sanctuary is home to a few species of whales, each being present at different points in the year. You can find humpback whales from March to November, blue whales in the summer and fall months and killer whales year-round. There are also other species in the sanctuary, including dolphins, sea lions, sea otters and seabirds.

For those looking for a more budget-friendly marine-viewing experience, Princess Monterey Whale Watching in Monterey Bay offers public whale watching tours with two vessels to choose from: the 110-foot Princess Monterey and the 100-foot Atlantis Monterey. Over 2,300 people have experienced a Princess Monterey Whale Watching tour, with three tours per day departing on each ship.

[Related: 3 Unique Teambuilding Activities in Milwaukee for Your Next Event]

Land Rover Driving Experience

Photo of a white range rover navigating hilly terrain
Land Rover Driving Experience at Quail Lodge & Golf Club

Located in Carmel-By-The-Sea and eight miles outside Monterey is the Quail Lodge & Golf Club, offering a unique Land Rover Experience for groups looking to tackle the most extreme terrain. 

Whether for a group incentive or teambuilding activity, every Land Rover program is specially designed to meet your group’s objectives. Groups of over six people will be able to experience one- or two-hour experiences to a full-day adventure and learn all the capabilities of the Land Rover vehicles. Learn to modulate and maneuver around grassy, gravel or snowy terrains; or tackle deeply rutted or muddy trails, cross water obstacles and even finesse over rocky paths. And once you’ve had enough off-roading, there are also golf and scavenger hunt events available at the resort.

Santa Cruz

Tours of the Redwoods

Looking to experience the breathtaking sights of the California coastline and Redwood Forests? Santa Cruz is home to 14 national parks and beaches offering many opportunities to view protected natural beauties. There are many guided tour options for groups to explore everything Santa Cruz has to offer.

[Realted: Inspiring Outdoor Venues in Monterey and Santa Cruz]

For the more active or adventurous groups, touring the coast via a guided bike tour might be the right way to experience Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz Bike Tours offers sightseeing and mountain bike tours for companies or group events. From teambuilding to simply experiencing a fun day out in nature, Santa Cruz Bike Tours can help plan a coastal or mountain bike (or hiking) tour for groups of any size for a day of sightseeing, fun and fitness. 

Photo of a train at roaring camp
Roaring Camp Train Tour. Photo Credit: Caryn Hewlett (2023)

For those who may be looking for a more relaxed day of sightseeing, Roaring Camp Railroads offers guided train tours through many of Santa Cruz’s natural sights. The company features two main train tours, the Redwood Forest Steam Train and the Santa Cruz Beach Train. The Redwood Forest Steam Train offers riders an oral history of Roaring Camp while you travel through towering redwood groves and up to the summit of Bear Mountain. The Santa Cruz Beach Train departs from the Santa Cruz Mountains, travels through the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and down the scenic San Lorenzo River before arriving at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Roaring Camp also offers meeting and event venues for corporate events or teambuilding excursions, including the 6,120-square-foot Bret Harte Hall and outdoor picnic areas located throughout the grounds.

Group Surf Lessons

Santa Cruz isn’t known as “Surf City” for nothing, with the city having 11 surf breaks that provide plenty of opportunities to catch some waves. As one of the birthplaces of American surf culture, there are tons of surfing spots around Santa Cruz for groups to check out. 

Located in the West Cliff residential area near downtown Santa Cruz, Steamer Lane is one of the most famous surfing spots in the world and houses the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. Other popular surfing spots in Santa Cruz include Cowell Beach, Natural Bridges State Beach, Mavericks, The Hook at Pleasure Point and more. 

Photo of Ed Guzman teaching a teambuilding surf lesson
Team Building Surf Lesson. Photo Credit: Paul Schraub (2011)

For those who have never ridden a wave before, there are plenty of surf schools in Santa Cruz that can help teach your attendees how to be a true Santa Cruz surfer. One of these schools is aptly named Surf School Santa Cruz and offers corporate and large-group surfing classes. These classes run typically for two hours, with surfboards, wetsuits, leashes and sunblock all included. Groups from nine to 15 people can learn from professional surfers who offer encouraging and clear instructions to give you the best chances of success while in the water.  


Visit Santa Cruz County

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Read this next: Teambuilding Has Changed. So Must You.

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About the author
Logan Pratt | Digital Content Coordinator

Logan Pratt joined Meetings Today in May 2023 as digital content coordinator, focusing on digital marketing efforts and covering breaking news stories for the Meetings Today website and newsletters. To send a press release or any information regarding the meetings and events industry please email