Capitola Photos & Information, Capitola, California

Capitola-by-the-Sea is a scenic city located on the Monterey Bay in Santa Cruz County, approximately 70 miles south of San Francisco and 35 miles north of Monterey.  Change is underway with the addition of several new hotels. Poised to capture tourists pocketbooks as well as their hearts, overnighters are learning more and more about its seaside charms, and they are staying longer in Capitola.

From the annual events such as the Begonia Festival to Surfing Santa's arrival, there's more to this place than simply strolling the wharf, kayaking, surfing, fishing, shopping, dining and hikes. Special events create a festive atmosphere throughout the year, providing plenty to see and do each time you visit.


Surrounded by the Santa Cruz Mountains on one side and the Monterey Bay on the other, west of Capitola Village are New Brighton State Beach and Pot Belly Beach and sharing a common boundary with the city is Soquel, which extends up the hillsides that climb all the way to the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Soquel Creek starts in those same hills above Capitola and flows into Capitola Village and into the ocean near Cliff Drive, Esplanade and Riverview Avenue. This is where the annual Begonia Festival Boat Parade is held. Stretching further at the foot of the river is the beach and Capitola Wharf.


A charming town with boutiques, eateries, a theatre and an intimate sand beach where surfers find nice wave breaks close to shore at Capitola Jetty, we think of Capitola as a smaller version of Laguna Beach. These beaches probably have more differences than similarities but what we like about this Central Coast spot and the Orange County beach are the artsy flavor of the town in which each beach sits. 


For over 100 years, Capitola has made tourists feel at ease by keeping life simple and pleasing.  Festivals celebrating begonias, sand castles, wine and art are highlights for a town, located just around the bend from the big city lights of Santa Cruz.  The river, Soquel Creek, the site of the annual Begonia Festival where flower laden floats drift down the river, is held one weekend in September. Also held in September along Capitola's Esplanade is Capitola Art & Wine Festival.


If you seek thrill rides and amusements, cruise north a few miles but if you are looking for relaxation, 300 days of sunshine and a friendly small town feel, park yourself next door in Capitola. Some of the fun things to do include sitting at the benches along the beach and watching waves and people, dining at one of the restaurants overlooking the ocean and pier and shopping at the dozens of unique shops winding near the water front. 


How Capitola got its name -  "Camp Capitola" likely was named in 1874 after the heroine in a series of popular novels. The land, which primarily served as a lumber port, was purchased from heirs of the ranchos and the name acquired by Frederick Hihn, a German who sought his fortune in the California Gold Rush. He bought the seaside village and welcomed those who found the location appealing as a camping spot for summer vacations.


Escaping the heat of inland California locations, the newly laid rails of the Santa Cruz-Watsonville Railroad provided a mode of transportation for thousands seeking relief. As word got out about the scenic spot, Hihn subdivided parcels of his village and sold summer vacation lots. 


The yet-to-be gold mine of prime property stayed in the family for a short time after Hihn died, but then was sold just as World War I began.  Henry Allen Rispin had shared a vision common to developers all along the California coast. Changing the name from Capitola or "Camp Capitola" as many knew it, he called it Capitola-by-the-Sea. Poor Rispin's timing could not have been worse! He lost his shirt (went bankrupt) just as the Great Depression of 1929 hit. 

Finally when two world wars ended and America began focusing on the homestead, Capitola got serious and incorporated in 1949. 


Capitola Chamber of Commerce for events, relocation, maps and information 
Capitola Museum provides an interesting and well documented history of its favorite city. Web: 410 Capitola Avenue, Capitola, CA 95010 


Airports Distance Driving Time 
San Jose International   35 miles 45 Minutes 
San Francisco International   62 miles   90 Minutes 
Oakland International   60 miles   90 Minutes 
Monterey Peninsula Airport   43 miles   40 Minutes 
Watsonville Municipal Airport   14 miles   20 Minutes 
Highway Access    Five State Highways: 1, 9, 17, 129 & 152 (Providing access to U.S. 101) 




Parks and Parkland  - 42,334 acres owned and maintained by the State of California in coastal and mountain areas.  County provides an additional 850 acres of parkland, numerous city parks. Miles of  challenging trails for equestrian and mountain biking uses. 


Beaches -  29 miles of coastline, free access to all public beaches - Gateway to the Monterey Bay   National Marine Sanctuary, world-class surf breaks. Additional  Small Craft Harbor, two municipal wharfs, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and five golf courses.


Santa Cruz Visitors:  800-833-3494

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