Favorite thing: I did not put this in the restaurant section, because this is a tip on dining in general in Capitola. Particularly on Esplanade street, there is a great selection of dining options right on the waterfront. Spectacular views and great food. This area seems to have a more of a party vibe than anywhere else in the village. There are about five restaurants back to back, right on the water, with some bar & grilles squeezed in between.
Capitola is built on the location of an Indian village that existed for more than a thousand years.Native inhabitants, known as the Soquel Indians, were removed to the Mission Santa Cruz when it was established in 1791. Nearly all traces of the Soquel "rancheria" and its culture vanished. In the Mexican Era that followed, the territory became part of the Soquel Rancho granted to Martina Castro and husband Michael Lodge in 1833.
California became a state in 1849 and Santa Cruz County was formed in 1850, shortly before German immigrant Frederick Hihn—a pioneer credited with developing much of the county's early industry—acquired the site of present-day Capitola from the Castro family.
As settlers engaged in logging and agriculture, the beach became a busy shipping point known as Soquel Landing. A wharf built in 1857 was expanded to 1,200 feet a few years later. Gradually, a small fishing colony of Italian immigrants settled at its base.
Drawn by cool mists and the smooth beach at the mouth of Soquel Creek, travelers stopped and often stayed as long as they were permitted. Increasingly, vacationers thirsting for a break from hot weather in the Santa Clara Valley found the seashore inviting for an overnight camp. After roads over the Summit were built and improved in the mid-1860s, word about the sanctuary reached further into the state's interior to places like Hollister, Fresno, Modesto, and Stockton—towns that would in a few years lend their names to the streets of Capitola.
Hihn leased the beach flat to Soquel pioneer Samuel A. Hall in 1869. Hall saw that the landscape that provided refuge from the summer heat could also be profitable. His foresight created the place known now as the oldest resort on the Pacific Coast.
Favorite thing: Capitola is picturesque and appealing. From the pastel-colored beach bungalows to candle-lit dinners, it's a visual delight.