Capitola is a scathingly charming beach village in the Monterey Bay of California. Colorful buildings, palm trees, restaurants, shops and pretty vistas galore! It is the perfect spot for a beach mini-break, or a longer stay! Here are my suggestions for what to do in Capitola:
Go to the Beach!
Capitola Beach is cradled on both sides by cliffs. The Soquel Creek ends at Capitola Beach. In the summer the river is “corralled” to form a lagoon in front of the restaurants on the Esplanade, in the winter it cuts through the beach out to the ocean.
Capitola Beach is pretty well maintained year round. Clean (sometimes lots of seaweed though), nice sand, descent public bathrooms and showers. You can see lots of surfers, kids playing in the ocean and paddle boarders! If you don’t want to get yourself sandy, there is a row of benches all along the esplanade so you can sit there and people/ocean watch and think about how great your life is since you are sitting on a bench in Capitola!
Capitola has several streets lined with shops! No chain stores to be found here. You’ll find a variety of clothing, surf, jewelry, art, candy, t-shirt and gift stores! So fun to see something different in shops and to support the local merchants! Here are a few of my favorite shops (click their names in the photos to see their sites, if they have one):
Walk around on Depot Hill
If you’re standing on the beach facing Capitola Village, Depot Hill is on your right. There’s an insane set of 86 cement stairs you can climb to get up there. Chances are a maniac exerciser and/or late night talk show host will be running up and down the stairs.
But, once at the top you will be rewarded with a stunning view of Capitola Village!
Then you can take a delightful stroll through the charming neighborhood there, full of 1900’s cabins and new fabulous beach houses. The magical Monarch Cove Inn is on the east end of Depot Hill, and you can find the elegant Inn at Depot Hill if you take the road back down to Capitola instead of the stairs.
Visit the Capitola Historical Museum
A fun little museum to learn about the history of Capitola! They also have a little separate building, the 1907 Beach Cottage, set up with decor as it would have been at that time.
Check out this post for my recommendations on Capitola’s best spots to imbibe in food and drinks!
See my post on Capitola Village hotels to get the low down from the horses mouth! (I am a horse in this scenario)
Unfortunately in January 2023 a big storm broke Capitola Wharf! It is in the middle of being refurbished and is expected to reopen in 2024. Once it does, a stroll out to the end of the wharf is lots of fun! Great views, fishing and a little shop. There is also a restaurant at the end and they often have live music on nice days. When the wind is right you can hear the music all the way up on Depot Hill!
Parking can be difficult in Capitola, especially if there’s an event going on. Check out the parking recommendations on this website to get the latest scoop. There is metered parking available in the Village, be sure to abide by the rules though or you’re likely to get a ticket. 🙁
Capitola hosts quite a few events through the year. They are very fun to attend, but best if you know about them in advance so you don’t face a parking/ crowd surprise! Be sure to check before you go. Some of my favorite events are:
- Twilight Concert Series – free concerts each Wednesday evening in the summer
- Movies at the Beach – free movies in the summer. Bring your own chair/ blankets.
- Wharf to Wharf Race – run or walk from the Santa Cruz to Capitola Wharf in July
- Capitola Art and Wine Festival – September
- Surfin’ Santa Visits Capitola – Santa arrives on a surfboard at the end of November!
Click here to see a current view of Capitola! Click the video’s pause symbol, then Play, if it’s not automatically playing.