Now that I live just minutes from Capitola Village, I have been able to go back to all my favorite spots. I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, and moved to Capitola with my family in high school. I knew I always wanted to move back, I just didn’t know exactly when. But when my husband and I had the opportunity to buy a home, we didn’t think twice about the location. There is no better place in my mind to raise a family than in Santa Cruz. I might be a little partial, sure, but Santa Cruz has so much to offer from beautiful beaches, gorgeous hiking trails, amazingly talented local artists, awesome coffee roasting companies, great food, and so much more. It may be sleepy in comparison to San Francisco, but I love my little beach town. I know so many new places have popped up since the last time I lived here, and I can’t wait to try them all out, but here is my run down for my top places to eat, shop, and do in Capitola.
1. Gayle’s Bakery: This has been a go-to spot for me, for years. First my mom and I used to go here on the weekends for coffee and pastries, a late lunch every now and again, or to pick up dessert for dinner. Then it turned into my daily lunch spot when I worked at the local boutique. One of my bucket-list items was to sit at their reserved table for wedding cake tastings, and you guessed it my husband and I did just that during our wedding planning! I pretty much always get the same food when I go to eat here because it’s just so darn good! I’m obsessed with their spinach gorgonzola pasta and you can’t get it without a slice of their garlic bread and steamed veggies. Gayle’s is always busy and their tables are limited but since they remodeled their outdoor patio to be enclosed it’s added a lot of space for dining even in the winter months. If you’re in the area Gayle’s is a must stop, their pastries are do die for!!
Location: 504 Bay Avenue, Capitola, CA 95010.
2. Sushi Garden: There are a number of great sushi restaurants in Santa Cruz but I have to say Sushi Garden is my favorite. They have the most unique rolls, especially vegetarian rolls. At most sushi places you may have a handful of veggie options to choose from but not here. The sushi roll options are endless and almost too many to choose from for someone who is as indecisive as me. You really can’t go wrong with any of them!
Location: 820 Bay Avenue #148, Capitola, CA 95010.
3. Lillian’s Italian Kitchen: This intimate Italian restaurant is perfect for date night. My husband and I have been going here for years. There is limited seating so I’d recommend a reservation! Lillian’s specializes in traditional Sicilian recipes that are mouth-wateringly delicious!! I’m not a meat eater but their meatballs are supposed to be amazing. My husband loves them, so they must be good 😉 Why do I love Lillian’s over other Italian restaurants in SC because the food is excellent, the ambiance is great, and the price is right!
Location: 1116 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95062.
1. Yvonne: This boutique has been a Capitola Village staple for years. One of the longest standing boutiques that I’m aware of. The selection at Yvonne’s is everything. They have exactly what you want. The boutique is broken up into sections making it easy to shop. They carry brands like Vince, Theory, Trina Turk, and Joie and even have a cute lingerie section with Cosabella, Hanky Panky, as well as high end lingerie like La Perla. They also have a small section of curated jewelry and designer sunglasses. In short, they have something for everyone!
Sadly my other number one boutique to shop is no longer in business, Dietle James was right around the corner from Yvonne’s and had not only a great selection of designer clothing and accessories but the mother-daughter duo were so sweet and helpful. I loved going in to shop but also to visit with them and get the scoop on the latest pieces they had ordered for the boutique, and what I should be looking out for! Their first location was in Scotts Valley and I would make the drive out there with my mom just to go there, so when they opened up a small location in Capitola Village I was ecstatic. Now that they are no longer in business I am searching for the next “Dietle James” to pop up in Capitola.
Location: 122 Capitola Avenue, Capitola, CA 95010.
2. Pacific Trading Co: I worked at the boutiques two locations back when I was in Junior College at Cabrillo. They have the largest selection of designer clothes, jewelry, and handbags. They were the boutique that got me interested in designer clothes. They carry everything from great basics from Michael Stars, Splendid, Three Dots, Ella Moss, Eileen Fischer, and Sanctuary Clothing to designer denim like Paige Denim, AG, Mother, and much more. Their Capitola location recently underwent a remodel and now that I’m back in the neighborhood I can’t wait to check it out.
Location: 504 Bay Avenue, Capitola, CA 95010.
3. Pacific Gallery: This place is loaded with cute home goods items and gifts. They have wall art, tablescape pieces, large vases, bowls, magazine pups, Annie Glass plates, bowls, and serving dishes, and so much more. They are also a framing store and have a lot of unique frames to choose from. I love coming in here for interior inspiration and have a wish list a mile long.
Location: 321 Capitola Avenue, Capitola, CA 95010.
1. The Hook/East Cliff/Rockview: One of my weekend rituals with my husband is to go check the waves in the mornings. We usually drive East Cliff stopping at each of the surf spots starting with Rockview and ending up at The Hook where we park our car and walk the same length there and back. It’s such a nice relaxing thing to do on the weekends, a great way to start the day, and really makes me appreciate where we both grew up and now live again. There is nothing quite like Santa Cruz to us and the beach and ocean is definitely a big part of that. Also part of this ritual is to pick up coffee at either Verve or Coffeetopia if the line is too long at Verve and sip on our coffee (a latte for me and a coffee with cream for him) while taking in the salty air, watching the waves break, and enjoying each others company.
Location: 41st Avenue (Opal Cliff Dr.), Capitola, CA 95010.
2. Nisene Marks: Nisene Marks is just down the road in Aptos and is an absolutely gorgeous place to go for a run, hike or bike ride. I don’t get to go that often but when I do I am reminded why I love it so much. There are huge redwoods all around this State Park. Depending on how much time you have there are various trails of different lengths you can take to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air.
Location: 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos, CA 95003.
3. SUP: Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) or any other ocean water sport that you fancy trying is a must do while in Capitola. I’m not big on ocean sports, I don’t surf though my husband does and I love watching him. I definitely feel more comfortable on a lake than I do in the ocean unless of course I’m on a boat. I love and respect the ocean and I prefer to enjoy it from the sandy beaches which Capitola and Santa Cruz are lined with great beaches for those who like to relax and work on their tan. But for those more adventurous types there is a lot you can do. I have always wanted to try paddle board yoga, its on my bucket-list and I’m hoping to finally check that one off once we settle down into our home a little more.
Location: 2214 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95062.
It’s so hard to round up a city that I have spent the majority of my life living in but here it is. I’ll probably have to do another roundup featuring Santa Cruz soon, since there are so many great places downtown and on the West Side which I didn’t include here.
Have you been to any of these places? What do you think of my roundup? Are there any places you think should have made the list that didn’t? I’d love to hear!