Nestled on the curving coastline of Monterey Bay, the vibrant community of Capitola has lured daytrippers and weekend tourists to its picturesque beaches since the 1850s. The iconic Capitola Village by the Sea is arguably the oldest resort town on the Pacific coast and has turned many tourists into long-term residents. Capitola includes coveted neighborhoods like the Jewel Box and Depot Hill, world-class surf spots, free community festivals, and countless tasty restaurants. Voted one of the best coastal towns by Sunset Magazine, there are plenty of reasons to set down your roots and call Capitola home.
Capitola boasts one of the most popular beaches in California. Although just around the corner from Capitola Village, the stretch of sand at New Brighton State Beach feels like a world apart. Nestled in Soquel Cove, the waves stay small, disappointing surfers but delighting small children who run in and out of the gentle surf. (Surfers really can’t complain with their choice of world-class waves up the coast, from Pleasure Point to Steamer Lane across town.) Take a stroll along the sand or the blufftop trail where coveted campgrounds sit beneath towering Monterey pines, the best spots offering prime views of the sparkling Pacific.
In the heart of town, Capitola Beach is bustling with activity. It’s easy to spend most of the morning out along the esplanade, watching longboarders ride long mellow sets or out in the water, catching your own perfect wave against the backdrop of Soquel Cove’s tall sandstone bluffs.
With O’Neill Surf Shop on 41st Avenue (the headquarters of the international surf company) and the late Jack O’neill’s beach house just up the road from Capitola Village, it’s no surprise that this is an active community. Get out in the lineup with the local surfers or kayak out past the Capitola Wharf, avoiding the lines of the fishermen casting from the pier above. If you prefer to keep your feet on terra firma, join the joggers that use the Depot Hill steps as their personal stairmaster. When the weather’s too wet, choose from several neighborhood gyms for yoga, barre, or spin class.
Check off all your errands in Capitola’s commercial district on 41st Avenue with Santa Cruz County’s only indoor mall. You’ll also find Best Buy, Home Depot, and other big box stores mixed in with the locally-owned Discretion Brewing, Pizza My Heart, and other local businesses. Grab lunch at the East Side Eatery or a Verve coffee in nearby Pleasure Point before taking a stroll along East Cliff Drive down to the boutiques and galleries in Capitola Village.
Capitola cultivates community year-round with several free festivals and family-friendly activities. Take your little ones to the Capitola Village Easter Egg Hunt or a free movie on Capitola Beach. For date night, find a sitter and relax at one of the Wednesday Twilight Concerts in Esplanade Park. The most popular event is the Capitola Art & Wine Festival where close to 200 fine artists and more than two dozen Santa Cruz Mountain wineries take over the entire village. The streets shut down to traffic and draw people from throughout the region to celebrate.
There’s no shortage of waterfront dining in Capitola. Special occasions require dinner out at Shadowbrook Restaurant, known for its funicular cable car that sweeps guests down through the terraced gardens to a magical dining experience along the peaceful banks of Soquel Creek. Sundays call for tropical mimosas with brunch out on the beach-front patio at Zelda’s on the Beach or pastries and coffee at Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria. After work, meet your friends at the Cava Wine Bar for a local Pinot or Chardonnay and an authentic Tuscan pizza from Caruso’s next door.