I love chatting with people who are longtime residents of California and discovering some of their favorite hidden spots or must see destinations. Everyone I talk with agrees that California has a wealth of places to visit and see. You can go in just about every direction and discover something different and unique to that area. Let’s be honest, if you are bored in California, there’s something really wrong with you!
While trying out a new winery we got to chatting with one of their wine guys, Kyle. If you get a chance to go to Byington Winery in the Santa Cruz mountains, hang out with him at the tasting rooms. Fantastic individual, who really knows a lot about Northern California…and of course wine! One of the suggestions he made was to check out Capitola, CA – a beach town, only a few miles east of Santa Cruz.
Immediately, we fell in love as we drove into the tiny, laid-back community. It was pretty packed with tourists, but still had that hippy, surfer vibe we were accustomed to in Folly Beach, SC. The streets were lined with a variety of gift shops and funky cafes, while flowers and incredible foliage spilled out from every crevice and corner imaginable. Colorful, Mediterranean-styled beach homes clustered tightly along the steep hills and rocky cliffs, overlooking the sandy beaches and bright blue bay. And bronzed surfers and carefree tourists headed straight to the beach to soak up the sun, while the day was still warm . We only had a few hours to spend in this town, as we had dinner plans that night, but we are definitely coming back to wander the streets and possibly grab some beach chairs and work on our own tan!
Check out our recommendations from local residents and places we discovered, as we wandered around, after the jump.
The 855 foot wharf, built in 1857, has a great view of the city and it’s beaches. There’s also a fisherman style restaurant at the very end, which provides a great spot for watching the sun set.
Capitola Venetian Hotel
This is one cool hotel and it’s right on the water. I love the Mediterranean style feel, as though I’m relaxing in a Tuscan Villa. Cool fact – this hotel was built in the 1920s and is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places as California’s first seaside resorts. This place has some great history to it.. if the walls could speak, I can only imagine the stories they could tell.
Stockton Bridge Grille
We saw this little bistro right on the water and had to give it a try. Prices are decent for California and the menu has a variety of options, so you can easily find something for just about anyone. The view was wonderful and the staff was really friendly, but I can’t say the whole food experience blew my mind.
Apple Curried Chicken Quesadilla with Mango Salsa
I would have loved to see a little more sauce in the Quesadillas and a bit more curry flavor. All in all, it was pretty good. We also tried their Clam Chowder, which needed a bit more salt.
Stockton Bridge Grille’s deck
The best part about the restaurant was their view right off the river that flows directly into the bay. It’s delightfully sunny and great for people watching.
Capitola Gift Shops
I’m in love with these two shops and want just about everything in them! Who knew a Custom Framing store could be so cool!
If you are in Capitola, make sure to check out the following:
1. Pacific Gallery – Shop Danish-modern style home goods and jewelry. 321 Capitola Ave, Capitola, CA
2. Lumen Gallery – A modern art gallery with a multitude of home goods and art pieces, and everyone of them needs to be in my house! 112 Capitola Ave #100, Capitola, CA
1. Zelda’s – This was a recommendation for a local and the line was pretty long when we walked by, so you know it’s good! Unfortunately, we kept walking due to the line and I wish we would have given it a try. 203 Esplanade, Capitola, CA
2. Taquaria Baja – I love tacos! And this place came well recommended. 200 Monterey Ave, Capitola, CA
3. It’s Wine Thyme – A great little wine bar on Capitola Ave. 312 Capitola Ave, Capitola, CA
4. Gayle’s Bakery – A incredibly popular bakery in town. Gayle Ortiz used to work at Alice Water’s Chez Panisse. 504 Bay Ave, Capitola, CA
5. East Side Eatery – This is a little farther down from the main town area on 41st Avenue. 800 41st Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
6. Pleasure Pizza – On the other side of the street from East Side Eatery and owned by the same people. 4000 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz, CA
We are definitely looking forward to heading back to Capitola and discovering even more great things to do. This list is just the start.