Beachside Bliss: Capitola Village

Nestled around Santa Cruz County are a variety of seaside towns to visit: filled with delicious eateries, handcrafted drinks, and spectacular scenery, each of these places embodies the unique flare of the community that calls that neighborhood home. Drifting downward from the cliffsides perched above Monterey Bay, soak in the seaside views as you make your way into the heart of Capitola-by-the-Sea. Colorful architecture and palm-lined roads greet you to California’s oldest seaside resort town. Today, the idyllic coastal haven evokes nostalgia while embracing fresh takes from buzzworthy local businesses. Brimming with small-town charm, appetizing eateries, whimsical shops, and community connection, all situated in a stunning seaside locale, Capitola Village is the perfect place to soak in the beachside bliss!

PLAY

Discover paradise at Capitola Beach, the village’s namesake shoreline! Framed by towering cliffsides covered in pampas grass, the picturesque coastline looks out on the shimmering blue waters of Monterey Bay. Dip your toes in the sand, soak up the sunshine, and build a sandcastle with your family! Those seeking a coastal adventure can rent a stand-up paddleboard to explore the beauty of the Bay, or consider a surf lesson, where you’ll learn to ride the waves like an (almost) pro. The allure of this seaside gem lies in its beachfront locale, so be sure to revel in some leisure time at Capitola Beach!

More fun can be found at the Mercantile Arcade, with old-school classics like air hockey and skee ball alongside more modern favorites like racing games. There’s fun to be had with the whole family! For a slower pace, head to the Capitola Historical Museum, which provides a unique glimpse into the past of this city by the seaside.

Capitola Rod & Custom Classic Car Show – Photo by Jenn Day

Sprinkled throughout the year, Capitola Village has a wide range of events and activities that celebrate its vibrant community spirit! Local wine flows at the Capitola Sip & Stroll (in the spring) and the Capitola Art & Wine Festival (in September). From marathons to classic cars and live music, there’s a beachside event to please everyone in Capitola!

STAY

The delightful, rainbow-hued cottages of the Capitola Venetian Hotel place you right on the sands of Capitola Beach for a true oceanfront experience! The iconic boutique hotel evokes the feel of an Italian vacation while situated as close as you can get to the California coast without actually being in the water. Make your way between the vibrantly-hued cottages to an ocean-view room, where you’ll discover creature comforts such as luxurious beds and in-cottage kitchens. Some cottages boast a fireplace to warm yourself when the coastal fog rolls in. The Capitola Venetian’s Mediterranean-style beachfront cottages are a swoon-worthy destination!

Immerse yourself in the heart of the action at the Capitola Hotel! This boutique hotel is a cozy, tranquil oasis nestled right in the center of Capitola Village’s Esplanade. Spend a day in the sand and sunshine before popping in to indulge in a complimentary cookie, an afternoon staple here. Try out their signature blend of body wash and shower necessities to wash the sunscreen off before snuggling up for the night in the delightfully sumptuous linens. There’s Wifi, TV, and even HBO, so you can rest while catching up on all your favorite shows! Fuel up for more adventures with the hotel’s complimentary breakfast, and venture out to enjoy another day of exploring all that Santa Cruz County has to offer.

Situated at the entrance to the village, each of the Capitola Beach Suites’ terraced rooms provides spectacular ocean views during your stay. Every suite comes decked out with quaint coastal cottage decor, fully-equipped kitchens, spacious seating areas, and that spectacular ocean view. After spending the day exploring what Capitola Village has to offer, settle into the Capitola Beach Suites’ rooftop terrace, which is the perfect spot to kick back, relax, and enjoy sweeping, panoramic views of the bay waters!

Soak in relaxation at the Inn at Depot Hill, a luxurious bed and breakfast perched up on the hillside, mere steps from the heart of Capitola Village. Originally built as a railway station, the inn has preserved its historic charm, with opulent decor that will transport you back in time. While its decor is reminiscent of the past, its amenities are of the modern variety: Wifi and concierge services go along well with the Inn’s outdoor jetted tubs and private patios!

FOOD

Trestles Restaurant

Capitola Village is home to a vibrant culinary scene that will suit every palate and preference! A local favorite is Trestles Restaurant: tucked beneath the iconic Capitola Village wooden trestle is Chef Nick Sherman’s delectable passion project. Ponder over the mouthwatering menu with a glass of wine in hand while savoring the intimate atmosphere that Trestles supplies. The open kitchen provides a peek at the culinary experience to come, and your tastebuds will delight over the local and fresh seasonal fare. Reservations come highly recommended for this desired spot, especially if you’re hoping to warm up by the firepit under the twinkle lights on the outdoor patio overlooking Capitola Village. With its welcoming atmosphere and culinary charms, Trestles has earned its place as a community favorite for an evening out!

There is an astonishing selection of eateries tucked into Capitola Village’s 1.7 square miles. Stop in at Marea Café & Pizzeria for artisan sourdough bagels and pizza from local Chef Jayne Droese, served alongside Syllable Coffee. Head to Geisha Japanese Restaurant & Tea House for sustainably caught, hyper-fresh sushi and Japanese cuisine. Pop by Avenue Cafe for brunch and lunch in a cozy setting.

For dining with beachfront views, make your way to the patio at Zelda’s on the Beach, which is about as close as you can get to the shore without actually being in the water. They serve an assortment of seafood classics, from clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl to cioppino and manila drunken clams. Pro Tip: They also have a full-service coffee bar, so you can sip your morning cuppa with unbeatable views! Nearby is Paradise Beach Grille, an upscale dining destination on Capitola’s beachfront Esplanade. Also on the shore is the Britannia Arms, a British pub and sports bar, complete with the kitchen’s renowned fish & chips and a patio overlooking Capitola Beach.

DRINK

Margarita at Margaritaville – Photo by Jenn Day

With its spacious patio, fantastic views of the beach, and refreshing, fruit-forward beverages, Margaritaville will whisk you away on a tropical vacation for your tastebuds. Their signature Margarita is a must-try, and comes in a variety of flavors from strawberry, for those who like it sweet, to jalapeño, for those who like their drinks spicy! Peruse the food menu, which offers sustainably caught local seafood served in contemporary Mexican dishes. Kick back, relax, and soak up the beachfront atmosphere with a marg in hand. Cheers!

If wine is more to your taste, sample the varietals at Armida Winery, an intimate tasting room with views of the Capitola Trestle. Beer lovers will find bliss at English Ales Brewery, where you can stop in for a pint and some traditional pub food. Tune in for live music events at The Sand Bar & Grill and Cork & Fork, both of which serve up great cocktails while the music plays with a beachside backdrop!

COFFEE

Mr. Toots Coffee House

A hidden gem in the heart of Capitola Village is Mr. Toots Coffee House: look for the small staircase next to Margaritaville and head right up to the cozy coffeehouse! This relaxed cafe brews up an assortment of coffees and espresso beverages to sip on, while also dishing up breakfast burritos, sandwiches, pastries, and various other nibbles to enjoy from their upstairs perch, overlooking Capitola Beach and the Venetians!

SWEETS

There’s no better treat on a sunny Capitola day than Polar Bear Ice Cream; grab a waffle cone filled with one of the 50 delectable flavors here! Churned locally in Santa Cruz, this small-batch ice cream is all-natural and impossibly creamy. Whichever flavor you fancy, every toothsome scoop will keep you coming back for more!

Capitola Candy Co.

Still need to satisfy your sweet tooth? Check out the assortment of candies at Capitola Sweet Shoppe, Capitola Candy Co., and Carousel Taffy & Treats. There are plenty of mouthwatering confections fulfill your dessert desires!

And a must-stop for any Capitola Village adventure is Gayle’s Bakery! Whether you’re on your way down to the Village or heading out, Gayle’s has delicious bites for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course, an anytime-special treat!

SHOP

Lumen Gallery – Photo by Jenn Day

The quaint, small-town vibes of Capitola Village are amplified by the abundance of vibrant local businesses that exhibit the area’s flair. Get into the local spirit at Santa Cruz Apparel, where you can snag one of those world-famous Santa Cruz dot sweatshirts for yourself! Get ready to hit the waves at Midtown Surf Shop, where a plethora of surf goods and clothing are waiting. They also have an assortment of gifts, cards, and local wares to check out during your visit. Katalina’s By the Sea has great fashion finds and accessories for women, men, and children – plus, their staff is always up for helping you pick the perfect outfit!

Be a conscious consumer at Ethos, where low-waste living takes center stage. Shop sustainably in-store for easily-packed household items like bars of soap and Swedish dishcloths, and continue your eco-friendly journey by shopping Ethos online from home! Boutique shops and art galleries such as Clementine & Co., Lumen Gallery, Capitola Reef, Capitola Beach Co., and more line the colorful promenade, beckoning you in to discover what’s in store.

With its colorful architecture, culinary delights, whimsical boutiques, and quintessential coastal charm, Capitola Village is a must-visit destination!