Discover Aptos Village

Nestled at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains is the endearingly historic township of Aptos Village. Life seems to move at a slower pace here, so unwind as you stroll along wooden walkways, passing buildings that look like they came straight out of the California Gold Rush: the boomtown architecture gives the downtown area a quaint, small-town charm. Explore the pedestrian-friendly downtown’s delectable offerings, which include artisan coffee shops, inviting boutiques filled with local goods, and an array of farm-to-table fare. The heart of Aptos Village also acts as a gateway to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, where you can connect with nature in a towering redwood forest. Ideally situated where the mountains meet the sea, Aptos Village is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered!


Mere moments away from the center of Aptos Village is the picturesque Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, a verdant oasis of ancient redwoods and fern-lined canyons with over 30 miles of maintained trails to explore. The calming waters of Aptos Creek flow through the terrain, its gentle gurgling providing a tranquil soundtrack for any adventure. Search for fossilized seashells in the creekbeds along the trail, which provide a unique reminder that the site of this majestic redwood forest used to be under an inland sea. As you hike along one of the park’s serene trails, keep your eyes peeled for a vibrant streak of yellow: a banana slug! It’s one of several creatures that call this flourishing wilderness home, along with black-tailed deer, bobcats, yellow-legged frogs, and mountain lions. From a lush fern-strewn forest floor to the evergreen canopy hundreds of feet above, with waterfalls, old-growth redwoods, and twisted groves, there is so much to explore in this part of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Spend a day lounging in the sunshine at Aptos Village County Park: there is a large, grassy meadow that makes for a peaceful place for a picnic. The playground is great for kids, and the park is dog-friendly, too. There’s even a short walking path to Soquel Creek.

Community is key in Aptos Village, as are the events that bring the neighborhood together, like the World’s Shortest Parade. Held annually on the 4th of July, it’s a not-to-be-missed event in the heart of Aptos Village.


Stepping into Mentone, an Italian-riviera-inspired, Michelin-Guide restaurant whipped up by renowned restauranteur David Kinch, is a vacation for the senses – especially your tastebuds! Named after a city on the French-Italian border, Mentone’s vibrant interior and mosaic pizza oven create the illusion that you’ve just been transported to the French Riviera. The delectable family-style menu changes with the seasons, ensuring that each locally sourced bite is super fresh. Start the evening off right with Mentone’s signature drink, which adds some Californian flair to an Italian classic: a frozen Aperol Spritz! Stracciatella is a menu staple you have to try for yourself: the creamy cheese, drizzled with olive oil and served with focaccia still warm from the oven will have you craving more. Each of the house-made pasta and oven-baked pizzas are sure to please but be sure to leave some room for something sweet. The gelato is made in-house and is a must on any visit! Mentone’s Riviera-inspired aesthetic and mouthwateringly fresh eats will send you on a fantastic foodie voyage you won’t want to miss.

Situated in a historic building in the heart of Aptos Village is Cafe Sparrow, a charming traditional French restaurant with a dash of California’s culinary style. The fare features the best that Monterey Bay has to offer, with fresh scallops and crab cakes adorning the menu, while also serving up traditional French foods, like Fondue and Beef Stroganoff. Sip on a glass of wine while you soak up the casually elegant atmosphere in this hidden gem. Visit at brunch for a real treat: bottomless mimosas paired with elevated breakfast classics. Try a Frenchman’s Hangover for something that packs a bit of punch or go for a classic like an eggs benedict. The welcoming setting and appetizing meals at Cafe Sparrow will have you coming back time and again.

The smoky-sweet smell of barbecue and the folky sounds of live Blues welcome you to Aptos St. BBQ, a community staple. The family-run joint serves up impeccably seasoned, high-quality meats that have been smoked over California Oak wood until tender. Each bite tells the story of the time-honored techniques that make every morsel finger-licking good! Opt to have your barbecue paired with an assortment of classic sides like potato salad, mac and cheese, or coleslaw. Knock back a local brew from the 37 on a rotating tap and savor every flavor at Aptos St. BBQ.

Just across the street, Akira Sushi is dishing up some of the freshest cuts in town. Their rolls’ bold flavor combinations are sure to delight, and for spice lovers, a must-have are the famous Akira Tempura Jalapeño Poppers! Nearby, Betty Burgers is just the spot for when you’re craving a juicy burger fresh off the grill. With delectable options that begin with a choice of all-natural beef, turkey, and vegetarian patties, Betty’s is sure to please. Grab a 50/50 basket of fries and onion rings on the side and sip an indulgently creamy milkshake made with Marianne’s Ice Cream. Betty’s is a local favorite, and with each tasty bite, it’s clear to see why.

If a forest picnic is more your style, head to New Leaf Community Market to stock up on some sandwiches and snacks from the deli and store.


The enticing aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafts from Cat & Cloud, inviting you inside the one of the local roastery’s cafés. Their Aptos Village location’s large windows allow plenty of light inside, drenching the spacious and airy shop in sunshine. The creativity and care behind each expertly brewed cup of joe make for a tasty wake-up call. While the skillful baristas ensure that everything on the menu is exceptional, a must-try is the mocha: the subtly sweet chocolate pairs well with the bitter espresso. Sweet tooths can top their mochas with whipped cream, marshmallows, or both! If you like your coffee with a bit of breakfast, there are pastries, avocado toast, chai overnight oats, and more to fill you up. Whether you’re just stopping in for a bite, hanging out with some friends, or getting some work done while sipping some java, Cat & Cloud is the place to be.

Just down the road is Norma Jean’s Coffee, a relaxing café that exudes warmth while serving up delicious coffee creations and delectable pastries made in-house. It’s worth a visit.


Savor the wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA and beyond at one of Aptos Village’s wine bars and tasting rooms! Stop in at Doon to Earth for a taste of the local terroir: explore the varietals of Santa Cruz County vintners Bonny Doon Vineyards and Ser, all at one Aptos Village tasting room. Wine connoisseurs are in for an out-of-this-world experience, pairing quirky alien decor with a cohesive winetasting adventure featuring the work of two renowned local winemakers. Both Bonny Doon’s Le Cigare Orange and Ser’s Sparkling Rosé of Grenache are extraordinary!

Soak up the sunshine while you sip on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at Aptos Vineyard! Their outdoor patio makes for a great spot to gather with friends, warming up by a fire pit, and sampling some Santa Cruz County wines. Other flavors of the California Coast are available to taste at Sante Arcangeli Family Wines, a Pescadero-based, family-owned company that specializes in Pinot Noirs.

Don’t miss a chance to visit Cantine WinePub, where an extensive selection of wine and beer awaits! Sourcing their wine and craft beer from near and far, Cantine makes the tasting experience approachable and fun. Pair your tasting with a sampling of Cantine’s tapas, which serve to amplify the flavor profiles of your drink. Savor the flavors over a relaxed date night or gather with a group of friends for a fun evening out at Cantine WinePub! Another great place to gather over good food and drinks is Parish Publick House, where the rotating tap and cocktail creations are served up with locally sourced fare. Their burgers are a must-try! 


If you’re looking for some local companies to support during your visit to Santa Cruz County, Aptos Village has you covered. The Warmth Company is a cozy boutique that features distinctive home goods and gifts. Browse their collection and pick up something unique to add character to your home! Just around the corner, whimsy and wonder can be found in the goods at Magnolia Fine Gifts & Gallery. Cover your toes in style at the Sock Shop and Shoe Company, a local business with a large catalog of the best footwear, from quirky socks to well-made shoes and everything in between. Calicoastal Boutique has beach-inspired home goods and clothing to discover, while Jet Set Bohemian is the best place to check out the racks for consignment designer clothing and goods. There’s nothing like the thrill of finding the perfect piece!


A visit to Aptos Village wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Penny Ice Creamery, a local favorite that sources seasonal, organic ingredients from local farmers to create their delicious ice creams. Their hand-crafted flavors are unexpected-yet-delicious, like Strawberry Pink Peppercorn, Whiskey Custard, and Vanilla Ricotta Raspberry, which are served up alongside classics like Chocolate and Tahitian Vanilla. Try a new flavor in a housemade waffle cone, and don’t miss out on Penny’s signature topping: toasted marshmallow fluff! 

Continue the adventure with a stay at the Seacliff Inn, which is tucked just between Aptos Village and the beach neighborhoods of Seacliff and Rio del Mar. Retreat to this hip coastal haven, where a plush bed and luxurious amenities await!

With its quaint, small-town feel, ease of access to the redwood forests, and proximity to local beaches, Aptos Village is a hidden gem in the heart of Santa Cruz County. Don’t miss a chance to explore the walkable, family-friendly town’s charming main streets, which are brimming with artisan coffee shops, inviting boutiques filled with local goods, and an array of farm-to-table fare. The thriving community of Aptos Village is a treasure just waiting to be discovered!