Top Things to Do in Capitola, California: Museums, Outdoor Activities, Dining, and Shopping

Top Things to Do in Capitola, California: Museums, Outdoor Activities, Dining, and Shopping

Nestled along the picturesque coast of Monterey Bay, Capitola, California, is a charming seaside village that offers a delightful mix of relaxation and adventure. Whether you’re a beach lover, a foodie, or an art enthusiast, this vibrant town has something for everyone. Its colorful beachfront cottages and scenic views create an inviting atmosphere that draws visitors year-round.

As you stroll through the quaint streets, you’ll discover unique boutiques, cozy cafes, and a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. From surfing the waves to savoring local cuisine, Capitola provides endless opportunities to create unforgettable memories. Ready to explore? Let’s dive into the top things to do in this enchanting coastal gem.

Key Takeaways

  • Relax at Capitola’s Beautiful Beaches: Enjoy Capitola Beach with its family-friendly atmosphere, golden sands, and nearby eateries, or explore the tranquil New Brighton State Beach with its hiking trails and camping options.
  • Immerse Yourself in Local Culture: Visit the Capitola Historical Museum to learn about the town’s history or attend the annual Capitola Art and Wine Festival to experience local art, wine, and live entertainment.
  • Engage in Outdoor Activities: Fish at the Capitola Wharf or hike the scenic trails in the nearby Forest of Nisene Marks, which offers options for all skill levels and stunning natural beauty.
  • Dine and Shop in Capitola Village: Savor diverse culinary experiences at beachfront and hillside restaurants, and shop for unique items at Capitola Village’s eclectic boutiques, which offer everything from handmade jewelry to surf gear.

Experience Capitola’s Beautiful Beaches

Relax at Capitola Beach

Capitola Beach offers a perfect spot for relaxation. The golden sands and gentle waves invite you to unwind. Bring a beach chair or a blanket, then bask in the sun. The beach is family-friendly, providing calm waters ideal for swimming. You’ll find Capitola Wharf nearby, a great place for fishing or enjoying ocean views. Various eateries and boutique shops surround the area, giving you easy access to food and shopping without straying far from the beach.

Explore New Brighton State Beach

New Brighton State Beach provides a tranquil setting for nature enthusiasts. This beach features a long stretch of sand backed by lush pine and oak forests. It’s an excellent spot for picnicking, with convenient picnic areas available. Camping options let you experience the beauty of the coast overnight. The New Brighton State Beach also offers hiking trails that lead through scenic woodland. Birdwatching is popular here due to the diverse avian species in the park.

Discover Capitola’s Cultural Attractions

Discover Capitola's Cultural Attractions

Visit the Capitola Historical Museum

Explore Capitola’s rich history at the Capitola Historical Museum. This museum showcases exhibits on the city’s development from a 19th-century seaside resort to the vibrant community it is today. Artifacts like vintage photographs, clothing, and memorabilia provide a glimpse into the past. The museum also offers rotating seasonal exhibits, ensuring there’s always something new to discover on your visit.

Explore the Capitola Art and Wine Festival

Experience local culture at the Capitola Art and Wine Festival, an annual event held during the first weekend of September. The festival features over 160 artists showcasing a variety of mediums like painting, sculpture, and jewelry. Sample wines from Santa Cruz Mountain wineries and enjoy gourmet food from regional vendors. Live music and entertainment add to the festive atmosphere, making it a must-visit event.

Outdoor Activities in Capitola

Outdoor Activities in Capitola

Fishing on the Capitola Wharf

Experience fishing at the Capitola Wharf, a favorite spot for both locals and tourists. The wharf, extending into the Pacific Ocean, provides ample opportunities to catch various fish species, including halibut, rockfish, and perch. You can rent fishing gear from the nearby tackle shop if needed. Open year-round, the wharf also offers stunning ocean views, making it a perfect place to relax. If you’d rather not fish, there’s a boat rental service for exploring the waters around Capitola.

Hiking in the Nearby Forest of Nisene Marks

Explore the Forest of Nisene Marks, located just a short drive from Capitola. Spanning over 10,000 acres, this state park features 30 miles of hiking trails suitable for various skill levels. You can enjoy scenic routes through redwood groves and lush canyons. Popular trails include the Aptos Creek Fire Road and the Five-Finger Falls trails. The park is open daily, offering plenty of opportunities for a peaceful hike or a more challenging trek. Remember to bring water and wear appropriate footwear for your adventure.

Dining and Shopping in Capitola Village

Explore Local Eateries

Capitola Village offers a diverse range of dining options. At the Esplanade, you’ll find beachfront restaurants like Paradise Beach Grille and Zelda’s on the Beach, which serve seafood and American cuisine. For Italian food, visit Sotola Bar & Grill, where you can savor traditional dishes with a contemporary twist. Shadowbrook Restaurant, located in the nearby hillside, provides an upscale dining experience with stunning views and a unique cable car entrance.

Shop at Unique Boutiques

Shopping in Capitola Village is a distinctive experience. Capitola Mercantile houses various shops, including those offering handmade jewelry and coastal decor. At Bird of Paradise, you’ll find clothing and gifts reflecting local artistry. Satori Designs offers fashion-forward apparel from both local designers and global brands. For surf gear and beachwear, check out O’Neill Surf Shop. The village also has several art galleries, such as Thomas Kinkade Galleries, featuring works by renowned and emerging artists.


Capitola, California offers a delightful blend of cultural attractions, outdoor activities, and culinary experiences. Whether you’re exploring its rich history, savoring local cuisine, or indulging in retail therapy, there’s something for everyone. This charming coastal town invites you to create lasting memories with its vibrant community and picturesque landscapes. Plan your visit and discover all the unique experiences Capitola has to offer.

Capitola, California, offers a variety of activities, including visiting local museums, enjoying outdoor adventures, dining at seaside restaurants, and shopping at unique boutiques. The Capitola Historical Museum and the scenic Capitola Beach are popular attractions that highlight the charm and beauty of this coastal town, as detailed by Visit Santa Cruz. Additionally, exploring the vibrant local scene provides opportunities for relaxation and entertainment, according to TripAdvisor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some key cultural attractions in Capitola, California?

Capitola offers notable cultural attractions like the Capitola Historical Museum and the popular Capitola Art and Wine Festival, showcasing local history and vibrant art scenes.

Where can I go fishing in Capitola?

You can enjoy fishing at the Capitola Wharf, a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

What outdoor activities are available in Capitola?

You can hike in the Forest of Nisene Marks or enjoy fishing at Capitola Wharf among other outdoor activities.

Are there any beachfront dining options in Capitola Village?

Yes, beachfront restaurants like Paradise Beach Grille and Zelda’s on the Beach offer excellent dining options with stunning views.

Where can I find Italian cuisine in Capitola?

Sotola Bar & Grill in Capitola Village is well-known for its delicious Italian cuisine.

What is a recommended upscale dining option in Capitola?

Shadowbrook Restaurant offers an upscale dining experience with a diverse menu and beautiful ambiance.

Where can I go shopping in Capitola Village?

Capitola Village offers unique shopping experiences with boutiques like Capitola Mercantile, Bird of Paradise, Satori Designs, and O’Neill Surf Shop.

Are there art galleries in Capitola?

Yes, Thomas Kinkade Galleries is one of the art galleries in Capitola, featuring works by various artists.