From the seaside vistas of Capitola to the small-town appeal of nearby Soquel, this cozy region south of Santa Cruz is reminiscent of another time in history. Capitola Village was once home to a 160-room hotel, salt-water baths, and trolley service from Santa Cruz, earning its reputation as the Pacific coast’s oldest seaside resort town. Founded over 135 years ago, Capitola still radiates the charisma of a vintage beachside town, where galleries and boutiques decorate the quaint streets of Capitola Village.
GETTING HERE: Arrive at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and drive approximately 70 miles/113 km south to Santa Cruz County (recommended: drive via Scenic Highway 1 – Pacific Coast Highway).
Visit Gayle’s Bakery for some of the county’s most scrumptious baked goods and gourmet foods. Take your coffee and pastry to go and take an easy walk to Capitola Village. Explore this colorful spot and browse eclectic gift stores, like the Craft Gallery. Stroll out onto the Capitola Wharf for scenic views or kick back on the pedestrian-friendly beachfront esplanade. Learn about the Capitola and Soquel of yesteryear at the diminutive and quaint Capitola Historical Museum.
Visit the many boutiques and antique shops in Soquel Village, including Cowbelles for Heart and Home and Center Street Antiques, where a mix of American and European findings cater to all. For more shopping, check out the unique surf and thrift stores that line Capitola’s lower 41st Avenue, including Freeline Surf Shop and O’Neill – home to the brand’s headquarters – or choose other options at the Capitola Mall.
Stop by Bargetto Winery for a sampling of wines from the oldest family winery in Santa Cruz County. Outdoor adventurers can catch a wave at Capitola Beach or take a stand up paddle board or surf lesson with Capitola Beach Company for a closeup look at the Monterey Bay. Opt for lunch on the seaside patio at Zelda’s on the Beach overlooking Capitola Beach.
Take an enchanting cable car ride to the romantic Shadowbrook Restaurant for dinner, and enjoy lovely creek side views, or enjoy fine dining with an ocean view at the Paradise Beach Grille. On Wednesday evenings in the summer, you can enjoy free twilight concerts at Esplanade Park’s Outdoor Bandstand on Capitola Beach or seasonally, Art and Music at the Beach on seasonal Sundays. Live music can often be found at The Sand Bar.