Beaches, a vibrant village, and plenty to do – Capitola is the perfect California coastal escape! Discover 37 ways to play, explore, and relax in this charming town by the sea.

Capitola, California, nestled within Santa Cruz County, is a vibrant coastal town along the stunning Monterey Bay.

This popular tourist destination is famous for its colorful beachfront houses, charming restaurants, and beautiful beaches.

As the oldest seaside resort town in California, it’s the perfect place for a picturesque and relaxing getaway.

Let’s dive into the best things to do in this picturesque haven on the West Coast.

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Dreaming of a California getaway? ☀️ Head to Capitola! Check out this list of the 37 BEST things to do in this charming coastal town. Beaches, food, fun – it's got it all! #Capitola #California #travel #thingstodo… Share on X

Map Of Top Capitola Attractions

Best Outdoor Activities in Capitola

Soak up the sun on a beautiful California beach, build sandcastles with the family, or try your hand at surfing. Explore nearby state parks with stunning coastal trails and picnic spots.

1. Capitola City Beach: The Heart of Coastal Fun

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

This iconic beach embodies the spirit of Capitola.

Stretch out on the golden sand and soak up the California sunshine, or take a refreshing dip in the cool Pacific waters.

Join a spirited game of beach volleyball, build sandcastles with the family, or try your hand at boogie boarding.

Keep an eye on the horizon – you might spot dolphins playing in the waves! The colorful Capitola Venetian Hotel, with its charming shops and restaurants, adds to the postcard-worthy scene.

2. New Brighton State Beach: Explore Scenic Beauty

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

Escape the bustle and immerse yourself in the natural splendor of New Brighton State Beach.

Nestled along Monterey Bay, this expansive park offers a diverse landscape of coastal bluffs, sandy beaches, and a lush campground nestled among towering pines.

Hike scenic trails with breathtaking ocean views, pitch a tent under the stars for an unforgettable night in nature, or spread out a blanket for a picnic with a side of salty sea air.

During low tide, explore the tidepools and discover a world of colorful marine life clinging to the rocks.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, a relaxing beach day, or a unique camping experience, New Brighton State Beach offers a quintessential California coastal escape.

3. Capitola Village: A Seaside Charm

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

Experience the laid-back coastal vibe of Capitola Village. Browse unique boutiques, art galleries, and surf shops tucked along charming streets adorned with vibrant murals.

Treat yourself to delicious fresh seafood at a beachfront restaurant or grab a coffee and simply soak in the lively atmosphere.

Relax at Esplanade Park, a beachfront green space where you can enjoy stunning views, catch a free concert, or mingle with locals during a lively community event.

4. Capitola Wharf Pier: A Stroll Over the Waves

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

Take a leisurely stroll on this historic fishing pier, extending out into the sparkling blue waters of Monterey Bay.

Cast a line and try your luck at fishing, or simply watch the boats come and go.

Keep your eyes peeled for pelicans diving for their next meal and playful sea otters frolicking amongst the kelp beds below.

5. Soquel Creek: Peaceful Exploration by Water

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

Escape into the tranquil beauty of Soquel Creek, a scenic waterway winding through Capitola and offering calm waters perfect for a relaxing adventure.

Nestled amongst lush greenery, this creek flows from the Santa Cruz Mountains into Monterey Bay.

Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and explore this natural haven – a popular spot for families thanks to its gentle waters and abundant wildlife like herons and egrets.

Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or new to the sport, Soquel Creek provides the perfect setting for peaceful exploration.

Tip: For top-notch kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals and lessons, visit Capitola Surf and Paddle. This woman-owned permitted surf school offers personalized instruction for all skill levels.

Their instructors are licensed, trained in ocean safety, and CPR/first-aid certified.

6. Surfing at Pleasure Point: Catch the Perfect Wave

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

Pleasure Point, a renowned surf break known for its consistent waves, draws experienced surfers with its consistent waves ideal for both longboarding and advanced maneuvers.

If you’re new to the sport, don’t worry! Beginners can find lessons and board rentals at the Capitola Beach Company, located just steps from the sand.

Their experienced instructors will help you master the basics and have you riding your first wave in no time.

7. Fishing on Capitola Wharf: Angling Adventures Await

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

Test your fishing skills at the historic Capitola Wharf, a popular fishing pier.

Try your luck catching a variety of local species as you enjoy stunning ocean views. Equipment rentals are available nearby if you need to gear up.

8. Depot Hill: Scenic Walk and Sunset Spectacle

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

Ascend the steps from Monterey Ave to explore the historic 1884 neighborhood of Depot Hill. Enjoy a refreshing walk or jog while taking in the charming architecture.

As the day ends, find a prime viewing spot on Depot Hill and witness a breathtaking sunset paint the sky over Monterey Bay.

9. Soquel Creek Railroad Trestle: A Stroll Through History

Step back in time and experience a piece of Capitola’s railroad heritage on the Soquel Creek Railroad Trestle.

This historic wooden bridge, once part of a bustling lumber transportation line, now offers a scenic walk with beautiful views of Soquel Creek.

Snap photos of this charming historical landmark in Capitola and enjoy a glimpse into the town’s vibrant past.

Best Historical and Cultural Attractions in Capitola

Visit a museum to discover Capitola’s rich history and why it holds a special place in California’s story. Enjoy the town’s vibrant atmosphere with live music and events in a beautiful beachfront setting.

10. Capitola Historical Museum: Journey Through Time in the Oldest Beach Resort on the Pacific Coast

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

Step back in time and uncover the captivating story of Capitola at the Capitola Historical Museum.

Explore exhibits that showcase the town’s fascinating transformation from its Native American roots to its heyday as California’s oldest beach resort.

Discover vintage photographs, artifacts, and engaging displays that bring Capitola’s rich history to life.

Learn about the iconic figures who shaped this charming coastal town and experience the vibrant social scene that put Capitola on the map.

11. Esplanade Park: Capitola’s Lively Beachfront Hub

Located right on Capitola’s main beach, Esplanade Park is a vibrant green space where the town’s energy comes alive. Enjoy breathtaking ocean views as you stroll along paved pathways or relax on a grassy lawn.

Catch a free concert or movie during the summer months, browse local vendors at a lively festival, or simply watch the world go by as street performers add to the festive atmosphere.

Esplanade Park is the perfect spot to soak in the laid-back charm and experience the pulse of this beloved beach town.

12. Shadowbrook Restaurant

Nestled amidst lush greenery, the Shadowbrook Restaurant offers a unique and enchanting dining experience.

Housed in a historic building, the restaurant’s ambiance transports you with whimsical touches like a vintage cable car that takes guests to different dining levels.

Savor delicious California cuisine surrounded by cascading waterfalls and twinkling lights.

Whether you seek a romantic dinner, a special occasion celebration, or an unforgettable meal with a side of Capitola history, Shadowbrook Restaurant delivers.

Interesting Museums & Indoor Experiences in Capitola

Learn about the incredible marine life of Monterey Bay through fascinating exhibits. Indulge in unique experiences like tasting locally renowned craft beers.

13. Lumen Gallery: Where Photography Illuminates

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

Experience the transformative power of visual storytelling at the Lumen Gallery.

This captivating space showcases the work of contemporary photographers, highlighting diverse perspectives and thought-provoking imagery.

Explore exhibitions that engage, inspire, and offer a fresh lens through which to view the world.

Tip: Capitola Village is brimming with smaller galleries and studios. Take a stroll and see what other hidden gems you can discover!

14. Armida Winery Tasting Room: A Taste of Sonoma in Capitola

Discover award-winning wines from Sonoma County without leaving the coastal charm of Capitola.

Armida Winery’s tasting room offers a delightful sampling of their handcrafted Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and other varietals in a cozy setting.

15. Pacific Migrations Visitor Center: Wonders of Monterey Bay

Immerse yourself in the rich marine life of Monterey Bay.

Discover fascinating exhibits on whales, sea otters, and other ocean denizens. Engage with interactive displays that unveil the wonders of this unique coastal ecosystem.

16. Sage Float Spa: Find Your Zen

Experience ultimate relaxation at Sage Float Spa.

Treat yourself to a float therapy session and experience weightlessness and deep tranquility. Unwind with a massage or other rejuvenating spa services for complete mind and body renewal.

17. CineLux Capitola Cafe & Lounge: Movies, Meals, and More

Enjoy a unique blend of cinema and dining at this upscale movie theatre.

Catch the latest blockbuster in a luxurious setting at CineLux Capitola. Savor delicious food, handcrafted cocktails, and a lively social scene before or after the show.

Nearby Excursions and Day Trips from Capitola

Discover tide pools teeming with life at a nearby state park or venture to a neighboring town for a change of scenery. Capitola is also perfectly situated for day trips to iconic California destinations.

18. Natural Bridges State Beach: Where Nature’s Wonders Abound

37 Best Things To Do In Capitola, California, Travel Realizations

Explore a world of tidepools teeming with life and witness the iconic natural bridge that gives this Santa Cruz beach its name.

Walk along the scenic Monarch Butterfly Trail during migration season for a truly magical sight.

19. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: Classic Coastal Thrills

Step back in time at this beloved amusement park, home to the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster and a lively boardwalk filled with games, arcades, and tasty treats.

Experience the quintessential California beach day with a side of nostalgic fun.

20. Santa Cruz Mountains: Redwood Hikes and Scenic Drives

Escape into the heart of the redwood forests with scenic hikes and winding drives through the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Explore majestic groves in parks like Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park near Felton and Scotts Valley or Big Basin Redwoods State Park close to Boulder Creek and Davenport.

Discover hidden waterfalls, experience the charm of these mountain towns, and take in breathtaking vistas.

21. Monterey: Coastal Gem with Rich History

Explore the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, stroll along historic Cannery Row, and savor fresh seafood with a waterfront view. Immerse yourself in the town’s rich history and natural beauty.

22. Carmel-by-the-Sea: A Fairytale Village

Experience storybook charm in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Browse art galleries, boutique shops, and whimsical cottages nestled along cobblestone lanes. Enjoy a picnic on the pristine beach with awe-inspiring ocean views.

23. San Francisco: A City of Endless Exploration

Take a day trip to the vibrant city of San Francisco.

Ride a cable car, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, explore diverse neighborhoods, and savor the city’s renowned culinary scene.

24. The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park: Redwood Majesty

Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of towering redwoods at the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park.

Hike scenic trails winding through lush forests, marvel at ancient giants, and experience the serenity of this natural wonderland.

25. Aptos: Charming Village Vibes

Discover the laid-back appeal of Aptos, a neighboring town with delightful shops, restaurants, and a welcoming atmosphere.

Stroll the quaint streets, browse boutiques, and savor a meal with a side of local charm.

Events and Festivals in Capitola

Immerse yourself in the local art and wine scene at a popular annual festival. Capitola’s beach comes alive in the summer with special events perfect for all ages.

26. Capitola Beach Festival: A Weekend of Sun, Sand, and Fun

Immerse yourself in a weekend of beachside fun at the annual Capitola Beach Festival! This beloved event is a true celebration of coastal living.

Enjoy live music, a thrilling sand sculpture contest, a family-friendly fishing derby, and a lively horseshoe tournament.

Don’t miss the dazzling Lighted Nautical Parade, where boats illuminate the water after dusk. Young artists will love the Children’s Art activities,  and the Scavenger Hunt adds an exciting element for all ages.

Browse vendors, savor delicious eats, and soak up the vibrant energy of this quintessential Capitola tradition.

27. Capitola Art & Wine Festival: A Celebration of Creativity and Coastal Living

Immerse yourself in the vibrant local arts scene at this beloved annual festival.

Browse works by talented artists, sample delicious wines from Santa Cruz Mountain wineries, savor food from local vendors, and enjoy live music as the ocean breeze sets the perfect ambiance.

28. Capitola Plein Air Art Festival: Where Coastal Beauty Meets Canvas

Witness the magic of ‘en plein air’ painting during the Capitola Plein Air Art Festival. Talented artists descend on this charming coastal town to capture its picturesque scenery on canvas.

Stroll the beaches, streets, and wharf, observing artists at work. Marvel at the finished pieces during the exhibition and sale, where you can take home a unique piece of Capitola.

This festival is a celebration of art, creativity, and the breathtaking beauty of the California coast.

29. Summer Concerts and Movies on the Beach: Fun Under the Stars

Capitola City Beach transforms into the ultimate outdoor entertainment venue during the summer.

Pack a picnic, spread out a blanket, and enjoy free concerts and movie nights with the sand between your toes and the sound of crashing waves as your soundtrack.

30. Monte Foundation Fireworks Show

Witness a dazzling display of colors light up the night sky during the Monte Foundation Fireworks Show.

Find a spot on Capitola Beach or a nearby vantage point and marvel as the fireworks reflect over the glistening waters of Monterey Bay.

Dining Options in Capitola, California

From beachfront cafes to elegant restaurants, Capitola’s culinary scene delights with fresh seafood, local flavors, and stunning ocean views.

Explore a range of dining experiences to satisfy every craving.

31. Shadowbrook Restaurant: A Unique Dining Experience

Nestled amidst lush greenery, the Shadowbrook Restaurant offers a captivating ambiance with its historic building and whimsical features.

Enjoy delicious California cuisine surrounded by cascading waterfalls and enchanting charm.

32. Sante Adairius Rustic Ales: Award-Winning Craft Beer

Sample award-winning craft beers with Sonoma County roots at this popular brewery taproom. Sante Adairius Rustic Ales offers a unique taste of California’s vibrant craft beer scene.

33. Paradise Beach Grille: Oceanfront Dining at its Best

Indulge in fresh seafood and breathtaking ocean views at Paradise Beach Grille. This iconic spot serves up delicious coastal cuisine in a relaxed and lively setting.

34. Zelda’s on the Beach: Beachside Classics

A Capitola favorite, Zelda’s on the Beach offers casual dining with a side of spectacular ocean scenery. Enjoy classic beach eats, tasty drinks, and a laid-back California vibe.

35. Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria: A Local Institution

Discover mouthwatering pastries, cakes, and savory delights at Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria. This beloved bakery is a Capitola staple, offering treats perfect for a picnic or satisfying a sweet tooth.

36. …And Don’t Forget a Slice of Capitola

Craving a classic California pizza experience? Grab a slice at the iconic Pizza My Heart and take home a piece of Capitola with their signature Capitola Classic T-shirt.

Shopping Adventures in Capitola: Coastal Treasures and Unique Finds

Explore the charming coastal village and discover delightful boutiques, galleries, and shops filled with unique finds.

37. Capitola Mall: Your One-Stop Shopping Destination

Discover a diverse mix of shops and restaurants all under one roof at the Capitola Mall. Find popular retailers, everyday essentials, and dining options to complete your Capitola experience.

Where to Stay in Capitola, California

Capitola Venetian Hotel

With its colorful Mediterranean-inspired architecture and prime beachfront location, the Capitola Venetian Hotel embodies Capitola’s classic charm. Enjoy spacious rooms, many with ocean views, along with a rooftop terrace offering stunning coastal panoramas. Book a stay here!

Capitola Hotel

Experience a blend of contemporary style and beachside relaxation at the Capitola Hotel. Delight in Caribbean-inspired rooms, some with bay views, and indulge in complimentary breakfast, weekend cheeseboards, and the perfect location near shops and restaurants. Book a stay here!

Inn at Depot Hill

Nestled on a hillside overlooking Capitola, the Inn at Depot Hill offers a luxurious retreat with breathtaking ocean views. Unwind in elegantly appointed rooms, savor exquisite cuisine at the onsite restaurant, and relax by the sparkling pool. Book a stay here!

When is the best time to visit Capitola, California

Capitola offers something special throughout the year, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences:

  • Summer (June – August): Classic beach weather makes this peak season. Expect sunshine, warm temperatures, and lively crowds enjoying festivals and beach activities.
  • Fall (September – November): Temperatures mellow, and crowds lessen, making it ideal for outdoor adventures and enjoying Capitola’s charm without the bustle.
  • Spring (March – May): Wildflowers bloom, and the weather is pleasant for hiking, biking, and exploring. Watch for whales during their migration!
  • Winter (December – February): Experience Capitola’s cozy side with potential storms bringing dramatic coastal views alongside quieter beaches and holiday events.

Tip: No matter the season, weekends tend to be busier than weekdays. Consider this when planning your perfect Capitola getaway!

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Beach vibes or village charm? Capitola, California, has BOTH! Curious about what else it offers? Check this ultimate guide with 37 top picks. Click to discover your next adventure 👇 #Capitola #California #travel… Share on X

Travel Realizations

Whether you’re seeking sun-drenched beaches, outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply a relaxing coastal escape, Capitola delivers.

From its iconic Venetian Hotel to the vibrant murals of Capitola Village, this charming town embodies the spirit of the California coast.

Now that you’re armed with all the best things to do, it’s time to start planning your dream getaway. Let the ocean breeze guide you, the warm sand welcome you, and the memories made in Capitola last a lifetime.

May your journey through Capitola bring a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures, the beauty of the West Coast, and the undeniable magic of a perfect beach day.

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Chirasree Banerjee

Hello. My name is Chirasree. I have been traveling for almost 11 years to places all over the world. I enter into a separate reality during my travels and enjoy the allure of escape from the mundane. I seek beauty through nature and human-made creations. Because beauty is powerful. I seek knowledge. I observe, absorb, and write about the places I visit and the profound realizations and inspirations that each place has to offer.