Things To Do In Capitola: The Ultimate Vacation Guide

Welcome to our ultimate vacation guide for the charming seaside town of Capitola, California! Nestled along the beautiful Monterey Bay, Capitola is a hidden gem on the Central Coast that offers a vibrant blend of picturesque landscapes, rich cultural history, and a plethora of exciting activities to indulge in. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation or a solo adventure, Capitola has something for everyone. 

Read on as we explore the best things to do in Capitola, from sun-soaked beaches and scenic parks to delightful dining experiences and beautiful vacation rentals to call home. Get ready to uncover the magic of this enchanting coastal oasis and create lasting memories in the heart of California’s dreamy seaside paradise.

Explore Capitola’s Natural Beauty

Capitola has a unique seaside town charm, paired with incredible natural beauty that has to be explored up close on your next visit. From sunbathing and surfing at the beautiful Capitola Beach to hiking through lush forests, Capitola has so many outdoor activities just waiting to be enjoyed.

Staying in Capitola California
Photo Credit: “Capitola Village Santa Cruz” by David Yu via CC BY-NC 2.0

Capitola Beach

Relax on this family-friendly beach, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. You can also rent paddleboards, kayaks, or boogie boards for some water-based fun. This south-facing beach also has a large fishing pier, Capitola Wharf, that extends out into Soquel Cove where the water is usually calm due to protection from land west of here. 

The area beyond the jetty at the east end of the beach gets bigger waves and is the perfect surfing area. So why not book some surfing lessons and learn to catch some waves like a pro? This is the perfect place to do it.

The fun doesn’t end when the sun goes down on Capitola Beach, in the evenings during the warmer months, they show movies, have twilight concerts, and host art shows while live music plays on the Esplanade Stage. There are also several restaurants and shops behind the beach along the creek and Esplanade Street. 

Sunbathers Enjoying Capitola Beach
Photo Credit: “New Brighton State Beach” by Martin Jambon via CC BY 2.0

New Brighton State Beach

If you’re looking for a quieter, less crowded beach, head just south of Capitola Beach to New Brighton Beach. This state beach offers a serene setting for picnicking, camping, and beachcombing. The forested bluffs offer an ideal campground, hiking trails, and sweeping views of Monterey Bay – all of these are just steps from sandy shores. The water here is perfect for fishing, and (in warmer months) swimming. Dogs are allowed on the beach but must be on a leash, be sure to check this list of dog friendly areas if you’re taking a furry friend along for the adventure. 

 People walking on Capitola Wharf

Hiking and Biking

There aren’t too many long strenuous trails in Capitola, more so leisurely walking trails. You can choose to do the Pleasure Point walk near Pleasure Point Beach, walk the Capitola Wharf or go more inland to the Oak Trail, a short trail popular for camping. 

If you’re looking for a more challenging trail, check out Nisene Marks State Park. Located about 6 miles from Capitola, this park offers over 30 miles of trails through redwood forests and along creeks. The Aptos Creek Fire Road is a popular trail for both hiking and mountain biking, while the Loma Prieta Grade Trail and West Ridge Trail offer moderate hikes through the lush forest.

Another nearby option is Wilder Ranch State Park, which is located about 10 miles from Capitola. This park features a diverse network of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding along coastal terraces and up into the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Old Cove Landing Trail is an easy coastal trail suitable for hiking and biking, while the Enchanted Loop Trail offers a more challenging experience for mountain bikers and hikers.

Enjoy the Attractions

As well as having great outdoor activities that allow you to experience this charming beach town’s beauty, Capitola has some great attractions to keep everyone entertained on their vacation. Whether you’re a budding historian looking for a cool museum, a foodie seeking a great dining experience, or just looking to let off some steam in the bars, Capitola has it all. 

Capitola Village

Fancy a girl’s day out shopping? Capitola Village has everything from boutiques, jewelry stores and hand-crafted souvenir shops, to salons and spas. Once you’re finished shopping till you drop, treat yourself to a delicious meal from one of the many restaurants and bars in Capitola Village. From tasty seafood restaurants, pizzerias to wine bars and pubs, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your taste buds. 

Capitola Historical Museum

It’s always nice to learn about the history of the place you’re visiting, and the Capitola Historical Museum is the place to do it. Located in the heart of the village, the museum offers a glimpse into the history of Capitola and its surroundings through a variety of exhibits and artifacts. 

You can also visit a historically furnished 1907 Beach Cottage located in front of the main museum building. You may also enjoy the rotating exhibits at the new Capitola Library. They also provided self-guided walking tour guides to allow you to explore the town’s history in your own time.

Capitola Art & Wine Festival

The Capitola Art & Wine Festival is a fun-packed, popular event that takes place annually in September. The festival showcases local artists, wineries, and musicians, offering a delightful blend of art, wine, and entertainment. Perfect for a day out, stroll the festival sipping exceptional wines from 22 Santa Cruz Mountain wineries while admiring the artistic talents of over 100 fine artists. Plus, admission is free! 

Capitola Golf Courses

If you’re looking to improve your drive or practice your putting skills on your vacation, Capitola has got you covered. There are a few great golf courses to choose from, including Pasatiempo Golf Club, Seascape Golf Club and DeLaveaga Golf Club

Capitola – The Dream Vacation Destination

There really is an endless list of things to do in Capitola when on vacation. This charming seaside village has it all and promises to offer visitors an unforgettable vacation experience. With its colorful architecture, stunning coastline, and warm community spirit, it truly embodies the essence of laid-back California living. 

From exploring the historic Capitola Village and immersing yourself in the local art scene, to partaking in water sports and experiencing one of the many vibrant festivals that the town hosts, there is no shortage of activities to engage in and memories to create.

To ensure you make the most of your Capitola vacation, check out some of the luxury vacation rentals available during your stay. 

Commonly asked questions about things to do in Capitola

What are the top attractions in Capitola?

The top attractions in Capitola are:
Capitola Beach: Popular for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing.
Capitola Village: A lively area with shops, restaurants, galleries, and seasonal events.
Capitola Wharf: A scenic pier offering fishing and stunning ocean views.
Shadowbrook Restaurant: A unique dining experience in a romantic, creekside setting.

What is the best time to visit Capitola?

Capitola has a pleasant climate year-round, but the best time to visit is from late spring to early fall (April to October) when the weather is warm and sunny.

What dining options are available in Capitola?

There is a diverse selection of restaurants in Capitola, offering everything from casual seafood shacks to fine dining. Some popular eateries include Shadowbrook Restaurant, Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria, Paradise Beach Grille, and Zelda’s on the Beach.

Can I surf in Capitola?

Yes, Capitola Beach is a popular spot for surfing, especially for beginners. There are surf schools and rental shops available for those looking to catch some waves.

Are there any wineries near Capitola?

The Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Region is nearby, with several wineries and tasting rooms within a short drive from Capitola. Some popular options include Bargetto Winery, Soquel Vineyards, and Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery.