Capitola is a Monterey Bay city located within the Santa Cruz Mountains, approximately 70 miles south of the city of San Francisco. It is best known as the site of an aggressive 1961 attack from shearwater birds poisoned by domoic acid, which inspired the iconic Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds. As the West Coast's oldest beach resort, the city is a popular tourist area, offering a wide variety of trendy beachfront stores, restaurants, and visitor attractions.
1.Capitola City Beach
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Capitola City Beach is a publicly-owned beach located along Monterey Bay's northern end. The beach is a popular spot for a variety of urban outdoor activities, including volleyball, surfing, sunbathing, and bird watching. Fishing is permitted at its Capitola Wharf pier, located near Soquel Cove in a calm water area. Lifeguards are staffed on site during the summer months and other peak times, with restrooms and showers available for swimmer use. The beach provides direct access to the restaurants and shops of the Esplanade, as well as historic buildings such as the Venetian Hotel. During the summer months, a variety of public special events are hosted at the beach, including free family movies, art shows, and a twilight concert series.
San Jose Ave and Esplanade, Capitola, CA 95010
2.New Brighton State Beach
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New Brighton State Beach is a public beach within Santa Cruz County, offering seasonal opportunities for swimming, fishing, hiking, and camping. Its main entrance point is the Pacific Migrations Visitor Center, which offers a gift store and exhibits on the history of the region's indigenous people and pioneer settlers from around the world. A nearby coastal live oak and Monterey pine forest allows visitors to explore nature at their leisure, and a bluff overlooking Monterey Bay provides spectacular ocean views and wildlife watching opportunities. A variety of youth programs are hosted at the beach seasonally, including Junior Ranger programs and campfire storytelling events.
1500 Park Ave, Capitola, CA 95010, Phone: 831-464-6329
3.Capitola Historical Museum
© Capitola Historical Museum
Capitola Historical Museum details the social and cultural history of the Capitola and Santa Cruz County regions, housed within a restored turn-of-the-century beach resort cottage. The museum is open Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the afternoon hours and is located adjacent to Capitola City Hall. Rotating special exhibits are hosted for a year at a time, covering topics related to the area's art, economy, and social history. Past exhibits have included photography and postcard retrospectives of the city, examinations of the area's tourism industry, and features on the area's famed public beaches. The museum also maintains extensive artifact and photography permanent collections, including a preserved early 20th-century wash house that serves as a living history museum exhibit.
410 Capitola Avenue, Capitola, California 95010, Phone: 831-464-0322
4.Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
© Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
Sante Adairius Rustic Ales is the project of owners Tim Clifford and Adair Paterno, focusing on quality and authenticity in craft old world ale styles. The Santa Cruz County brewery offers a new tasting room facility that is open to the public seven days a week, along with its original Capitola brewery that is open for tours and tastings Tuesdays through Sundays. Popular brews such as the brewery’s Four Legs Good Blond Quad, Love’s Armor American Wild Ale, Maiden Fields Berliner Weisse, Saison Bernice, and Deaf Stewart Witbier are tapped year-round, while limited release brews highlight unique styles and collaborations with other regional breweries. An invitation-only member’s club, SARA’s Cellar, offers access to additional exclusive brews.
103 Kennedy Dr, Capitola, CA 95010, Phone: 831-462-1227
© Armida Winery
Armida Winery is operated by three Capitola couples and offers two tap rooms throughout the Santa Cruz County region, including locations in Capitola and Healdsburg. The small-lot vineyard produces and sources wines in a wide variety of popular styles, including white and red wines, zinfandels, and point wines. It is known for its unique PoiZin zinfandel varietal, popularly nicknamed "a wine to die for." Its Capitola tap room is open to the public seven days a week, offering tastings in a space overlooking the beautiful Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys. Public special events offered at the tap room include release party Fridays, barrel tasting weekends, and wine club pickup parties. Two wine club options are offered, with participants receiving periodic shipments of wines in a variety of styles.
103 Stockton Ave, Capitola, CA 95010, Phone: 707-433-2222
6.Thomas Kinkade Signature Gold Gallery of Capitola
© Thomas Kinkade Signature Gold Gallery of Capitola
Thomas Kinkade Signature Gold Gallery of Capitola showcases the paintings of American artist Thomas Kinkade, known as the "Painter of Light" for his mass-marketed pastoral and collage artworks. A wide variety of the artist's most famous paintings are sold at the gallery, including works depicting popular characters such as Disney animated movie characters and DC Comics heroes. Limited numbers of Thomas Kinkade Originals are also available, along with Master Edition works and signed studio proofs. Framing options are available for all purchased works, with framing advice and assistance offered by gallery experts. Appraisals of Kinkade works are also available via email.
121 San Jose Ave. Capitola CA 95010, Phone: 831-476-0970
© Capitola Mall
Capitola Mall is Santa Cruz County's only indoor shopping center, home to more than 80 unique stores and restaurants. The mall is managed by Merlone Geier Partners and was originally opened in 1977, expanded in 1988 to offer space for up to 100 retailers. Today, it is anchored by major department stores such as Target, Macy's, and Kohl's, along with specialty women's, men's, and children's retailers such as Victoria's Secret, Express, and the Children's Place. Restaurant options include national chains such as Chili's, Olive Garden, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries, with food court favorites such as Starbucks, Subway, and Sorabol also available. Special events are hosted at the mall monthly, including family fun days, art walks, and book sales benefitting regional charities.
1855 41st Avenue, Capitola, CA 95010, Phone: 831-476-9616
8.Capitola Beach Company
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Capitola Beach Company is a surf shop in Capitola Village that has been offering surf and stand-up paddleboarding lessons for individuals and groups since 2004. Private and semi-private lessons for surfers of all ability levels last approximately 90 minutes, with both beach and water training time included. Group lessons are also available, with all equipment provided for all lesson participants. A full-service surf store is also available, selling apparel and accessories from top brands such as Billabong, Quiksilver, TOMS, and Lucky Brand. Surfboard and paddleboard rentals are also available by the hour or day for patrons over the age of 18.
131 Monterey Ave, Capitola, California 95010, Phone: 831-462-5222
Shadowbrook is an acclaimed romantic dining restaurant in Capitola that was originally opened in 1947 within a restored 1920s-era summer home log cabin. The restaurant is owned today by Ted Burke and Bob Munsey and is considered to be one of the American West's most unique restaurant experiences, offering indoor, outdoor, and rooftop dining experiences in unique spaces such as a restored cable car. It has been the recipient of a variety of national dining awards, including accolades from OpenTable, USA Today, and the Gourmet Diners Club of America. A full dinner menu of clever upscale American fare is served, including entrees such as hazelnut-crusted brook trout, Thai-style game hen, honey-glazed pork chops, and vegan options such as sunflower seed risotto. Appetizers, artisan pizzas, and gastropub fare is available at the restaurant's Rock Room, with full children's and drink menus also available.
1750 Wharf Rd, Capitola, CA 95010, Phone: 831-475-1511
10.Paradise Beach Grille
© Paradise Beach Grille
Paradise Beach Grille is a casual American grill located along Capitola's Esplanade beachfront shopping and dining district. The restaurant was opened in 1998 and is overseen by executive chef Scott Cater, who fuses Californian and tropical cuisine in dishes emphasizing natural ingredients and humanely-sourced meats. The restaurant has been voted as one of the most romantic date night spots in the world by Gogobot.com, offering beautiful bayside patio space for diners and high-top bar tables. Its menu features a variety of fresh seafood and Braveheart Angus beef dishes, paired with an extensive list of California wines available by the glass. A full bar menu is also served, with happy hour specials available throughout the week and live music performances showcased periodically.
215 Esplanade, Capitola, CA 95010, Phone: 831-476-4900
11.Caruso's Tuscan Cuisine
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Caruso's Tuscan Cuisine is a family-owned restaurant located within the Capitola Mercantile, a shopping center modeled after classic indoor European bazaars. The restaurant serves high-quality authentic Italian cuisine at lunch and dinner seven days a week, with all dishes prepared from scratch on site. Its menu highlights 12-inch wood-fired pizzas, along with classic pasta dishes and traditional appetizers such as calamari and bruschetta. Reservations are recommended for parties of six or more, though reservations are not accepted for small groups. After dinner, guests are welcome to explore the rest of the Mercantile, which is also home to a Cava Wine Bar location, popular java spot Seaside Coffee, and a variety of handcrafted artisan product stalls.
115 San Jose Ave, Capitola, CA 95010, Phone: 831-465-9040
Margaritaville has been a Capitola staple for fine dining for more than three decades, recently renovated and overhauled in 2015. Though the restaurant shares its name with the popular Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville national casual dining chain, it is an unaffiliated independent restaurant operated by Santa Cruz company Sunset Hospitality Group. It serves an extensive menu of fine Mexican dishes prepared from scratch, with a focus on seafood dishes such as Baja fish tacos and a raw oyster bar. Handcrafted margaritas are also available, along with traditional Mexican favorites such as chicken mole enchiladas. Waterfront seating is offered within a dog-friendly patio area.
231 Esplanade, Capitola, CA 95010, Phone: 831-476-2263
12 Best Things to Do in Capitola, California
- Capitola City Beach, Photo: Courtesy of serg_did - Fotolia.com
- New Brighton State Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Michael Brake - Fotolia.com
- Capitola Historical Museum, Photo: Capitola Historical Museum
- Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, Photo: Sante Adairius Rustic Ales
- Armida Winery, Photo: Armida Winery
- Thomas Kinkade Signature Gold Gallery of Capitola, Photo: Thomas Kinkade Signature Gold Gallery of Capitola
- Capitola Mall, Photo: Capitola Mall
- Capitola Beach Company, Photo: Courtesy of ronstik - Fotolia.com
- Shadowbrook, Photo: Shadowbrook
- Paradise Beach Grille, Photo: Paradise Beach Grille
- Caruso's Tuscan Cuisine, Photo: Courtesy of fahrwasser - Fotolia.com
- Margaritaville, Photo: Margaritaville
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Lux Blue - Fotolia.com