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The Bay Area's Best Kept Secret: Capitola-by-the-Sea

What? Never heard of Capitola? If you haven’t yet ventured that far north, you’re missing one of the Bay Area’s well-kept secrets.

A quaint, colorful village, Capitola-by-the-Sea, ten minutes south of Santa Cruz, is slightly reminiscent of the picturesque village of Portofino on the Ligurian coast of Italy. Swim or stroll along the short, beautiful sandy white beach or do some shopping at the boutiques and art galleries. Coffee houses and restaurants, too, are all within steps of the sand.

For the more adventurous, take a walk out on the Capitola Wharf, where you can rent a variety of fishing gear, a motorboat, a water bike or just grab a snack at Capitola Boat and Bait. For $75, four people can rent a motorized skiff, depart as early as 7 a.m., and stay out until 3 p.m. Call ahead to reserve.

At the entrance to the wharf, right on the sand, the multicolored Venetian condominiums (with hand-carved doorways) were the first to be built in California in the 1920s.

Several popular restaurants, like Margaritaville and Zelda’s, line the boardwalk. Named after the “Barbarian Princess of the South,” the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda’s offers beachfront and indoor fine dining – and an all-day happy hour on Tuesdays! If you fancy a leisurely sip while watching the waves, happy hour margaritas are just a buck any other day from 2:30-5:30pm.

Capitola always seems to be celebrating some special event!

In the spring, there’s a beach Easter egg hunt for kids, and if you look carefully during low tide, you’ll discover an Irish sun cross hidden in the sand.

In summer, Capitola hosts the Classic Car Show and the Vintage Motorcycle Show, as well as the popular Wharf-to-Wharf Race, a 6-mile run, which begins at the Santa Cruz Wharf and ends at the Capitola Wharf. For several weeks in the summer, you can bring a picnic dinner to weekly evening concerts by the sea.

In the fall, at the world-famous Begonia Festival, elaborate begonia-laden floats glide up and down the Soquel Creek to the delight of cheering onlookers. And in mid-September, at the annual Art and Wine Festival, several streets along the boardwalk are dedicated to wine tasting, international food booths, music and a variety of unique artwork, handmade crafts, jewelry and pottery.

December events include the annual Christmas Tree Lighting, caroling in the village and an annual art show and wine tasting, Art in the Cellars, at Bargetto Winery in Soquel, not far from Capitola Village.

For a calendar of Capitola events, see capitolachamber.com.

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What? Never heard of Capitola? If you haven’t yet ventured that far north, you’re missing one of the Bay Area’s well-kept secrets.

A quaint, colorful village, Capitola-by-the-Sea, ten minutes south of Santa Cruz, is slightly reminiscent of the picturesque village of Portofino on the Ligurian coast of Italy. Swim or stroll along the short, beautiful sandy white beach or do some shopping at the boutiques and art galleries. Coffee houses and restaurants, too, are all within steps of the sand.

For the more adventurous, take a walk out on the Capitola Wharf, where you can rent a variety of fishing gear, a motorboat, a water bike or just grab a snack at Capitola Boat and Bait. For $75, four people can rent a motorized skiff, depart as early as 7 a.m., and stay out until 3 p.m. Call ahead to reserve.

At the entrance to the wharf, right on the sand, the multicolored Venetian condominiums (with hand-carved doorways) were the first to be built in California in the 1920s.

Several popular restaurants, like Margaritaville and Zelda’s, line the boardwalk. Named after the “Barbarian Princess of the South,” the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda’s offers beachfront and indoor fine dining – and an all-day happy hour on Tuesdays! If you fancy a leisurely sip while watching the waves, happy hour margaritas are just a buck any other day from 2:30-5:30pm.

Capitola always seems to be celebrating some special event!

In the spring, there’s a beach Easter egg hunt for kids, and if you look carefully during low tide, you’ll discover an Irish sun cross hidden in the sand.

In summer, Capitola hosts the Classic Car Show and the Vintage Motorcycle Show, as well as the popular Wharf-to-Wharf Race, a 6-mile run, which begins at the Santa Cruz Wharf and ends at the Capitola Wharf. For several weeks in the summer, you can bring a picnic dinner to weekly evening concerts by the sea.

In the fall, at the world-famous Begonia Festival, elaborate begonia-laden floats glide up and down the Soquel Creek to the delight of cheering onlookers. And in mid-September, at the annual Art and Wine Festival, several streets along the boardwalk are dedicated to wine tasting, international food booths, music and a variety of unique artwork, handmade crafts, jewelry and pottery.

December events include the annual Christmas Tree Lighting, caroling in the village and an annual art show and wine tasting, Art in the Cellars, at Bargetto Winery in Soquel, not far from Capitola Village.

For a calendar of Capitola events, see capitolachamber.com.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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