What to do and see in Aptos, United States: The Best Places and Tips

August 7, 2017 Darleen Reid

Combining the redwoods and the sea into one idyllic setting, Aptos is a quaint town that serves as home to the forested Nisene Marks State Park, perfect for mountain biking and hiking. Historic Aptos Village features antique shops, restaurants and boutiques. For the perfect spot to picnic, barbecue, or take a seaside stroll, head to Seacliff State beach and walk to the end of the pier to see the S.S. Palo Alto, an experimental concrete vessel known as “the cement ship”.
Restaurants in Aptos

1. Capitola Beach

Capitola, CA
Excellent
51%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 317 reviews

Capitola Beach

Artsy, secluded spot close by, but away from the crowds of Santa Cruz

Reviewed By jaseaton - Silver Spring, Maryland

In the past we've rented houses along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. This time we chose a place along East Cliff in Capitola, so we spent quite a bit of time walking the Cliff Drive and gazing out at the surfers along Capitola City Beach as well as watching people walking with their dogs, babies, and each other. It was a sensational afternoon and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The houses along the way were smaller than those in Santa Cruz, bit also more interesting.

2. Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

Aptos, CA +1 831-763-7063
Excellent
73%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 138 reviews

Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

The location of 1989's devastating earthquake.

Reviewed By Erin S

My kids really enjoyed hiking in Nisene Marks. I had not been there since the mid80s and I was happy to see that it was as beautiful as I remember. We did have a hard time following the trail behind the entry station, it was not well marked in places.

3. West Cliff Drive

Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Excellent
77%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

West Cliff Drive

Reviewed By M C - Newport News, Virginia

Walked a ways on this easy path above DT Santa Cruz on the West Cliffs. Road parallels path/trail...nice neighborhood. Walkers, runners and bikers. Striking ocean scenes, waves pounds rocks below. Since walk is in a rough semi circular view's are great of breaking waves.

4. Alfaro Family Vineyards

420 Hames Rd, Corralitos, CA 95076-0252 +1 831-728-5172
Excellent
80%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 10 reviews

Alfaro Family Vineyards

Reviewed By Shaymur - Fremont, California

The Alfaro Family wines are very good with 4 or 5 different varietals and several different vineyard specific wines. During a recent visit for tasting, there were 3 different Chardonnays as well as 3 or 4 different Pinot Noir as well as a Syrah and Merlot. Tasting gives a good opportunity to see the differences from the different growing climates and soils. Tasting here is a fun and friendly experience. They are open by appoinment. Take the time to visit.

5. Soquel Vineyards

8063 Glen Haven Rd, Soquel, CA 95073-9592 +1 831-462-9045
Excellent
100%
Good
0%
Satisfactory
0%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 20 reviews

Soquel Vineyards

Soquel Vineyards was established in 1987 when twin brothers Peter and Paul Bargetto, and their childhood friend Jon Morgan decided to develop their own label and ended up producing some of the best wines in the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation. The partners have been producing award winning wines since the very beginning, most recently scoring a Best of Class, Double Gold, and three additional Gold medals at the 2016 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Fruit is sourced from the appellation, as well as Napa Valley, Lodi, Paso Robles, etc. Varietals include Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, Chardonnay -- and signature blends including Trinity Rosso, Intreccio and beginning in 2016, Consonante! The Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation is one of the up-and-coming areas in California. Plan a visit soon!

Reviewed By ShadyGrady - Santa Cruz, CA

This is a winery/vineyard you must visit! Awesome wines! It is close to our house and one of our favorite wine selections to drink! Cheers!Thanks! Hope to see you again soon!

6. New Brighton State Beach

1500 Park Ave, Capitola, CA 95010-2448 +1 831-464-6330
Excellent
46%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
4%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 150 reviews

New Brighton State Beach

Reviewed By CLwriter - Santa Rosa, California

New Brighton is a little ways south of Santa Cruz - it offers camping, picnicking, and beach activities. It is very popular on weekends year-round, so there is a shuttle from the busy center of Capitola Village. I rarely swim in the water, but I love hiking along the beach and watching all the activity from birds and sometimes even a whale will surface offshore if you are lucky! If you want to camp, reserve ahead of time - the campground is quite small - it is well-sheltered from ocean winds and I recommend camping in the fall because that's when it is most likely to be dry and sunny.

7. Sunset State Beach

201 Sunset Beach Rd, 16mi South of Santa Cruz Via Highway 1 and San Andreas Road, Watsonville, CA 95076-8597 (831) 763-7063
Excellent
58%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 72 reviews

Sunset State Beach

Reviewed By sstlouis - San Jose, CA


Pros:
-clean, nice Campground divided into three sections.
-we stayed in site 81. It was a huge campsite, which was great for the kids and it was steps from the bathroom so felt safe letting them walk together to use restroom. It was also next to the ADA campsite which could be beneficial to a group if needed. It was also right across from the garbage and recycling dumpster (never smelled, just convenient). Site also directly across from the campsite host who sold the kindling ($10 cash only)
-lots of birds and bats at night. Kids saw owls and bats for the first time closer than ever here in the suburbs. We watched the owl eating its dinner in the tree every night.
-this site was very close to the steps that led to the beach though the steps themselves were very steep. You enter the beach a ways from the lifeguard and more popular area by the parking lot. Maybe a half mile walk to that area? The campsite host told us if you're going with lots of stuff and kids, easier to drive to the sunset beach entrance than to walk from his campsite. I would agree.
-saw the most beautiful sunset ever by standing at the tip of the staircase across from our site.
-sanddollars everywhere on the beach! You don't see Whole sand dollars much along the beaches here. Not a sole around! We went about 11 am and only saw two other people most of the walk. We collected tons of sand dollars.
-digs not allowed on beach but we took ours on a walk from the staircase near to the popular area of the beach that looked busier then turned around. Walked for 20-30 minutes back and forth so was a good distance. I imagine the no dogs is enforced more on the busier side of the beach.
-not far to go into Capitola or Santa Cruz for a day trip if that's interesting
-clean bathrooms/showers

Cons:
Both of these I knew going into it, but still listing for someone looking to travel here for first time:
-can't see the beach from the campground. You know it's so close right over the dunes next to you! But can't see it.
-no hookups

8. Seacliff State Beach

State Park Drive, Aptos, CA 95003 (831) 685-6500
Excellent
58%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 135 reviews

Seacliff State Beach

Reviewed By Luv W

I drove down to the beach around 5 p.m. for a short walk. There's a nice walking path along the beach. The beach is pretty rough and not particularly inviting. Guess I'm spoiled by walking on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz.

9. Bargetto Winery

3535 N Main St, Soquel, CA 95073-2530
Excellent
80%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 20 reviews

Bargetto Winery

Established in 1933, BARGETTO WINERY is the oldest winery in Santa Cruz County and is currently owned and operated by third generation Bargetto family members. Visit our Historic Winery and Tasting Room in Soquel and enjoy wine tasting in our creek-side tasting room and courtyard. Taste 5 wines for $7 or a Reserve Tasting for $12. Visit our other tasting room in Monterey on Cannery Row.

Reviewed By swoodruf - Grand Rapids, Michigan

Visited this little winery after sampling some Merlot at a restaurant in Scotts Valley. When I found out the winery was just 15 minutes away, I decided I had to visit. Cute little building that is unobsrusive and quaint. There is a little store with a wine-tasting room in the bad. There are lots of tables outside in the back of the tasting room. You can choose from two levels - a $10 or $15 tasting. I learned a lot from the host. I ended up buying several bottles of merlot and also some mead. They make their mead from local honey, and given lots of ideas for how to use it. It was absolutely delicious and will be perfect warmed up during the holidays. I highly recommend this little winery if you are into that sort of thing!

10. Manresa State Beach

San Andreas Road, Aptos, CA +1 831-724-3750
Excellent
69%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 63 reviews

Manresa State Beach

Reviewed By Aspi S

La Selva beach just south of Manresa State Beach park is a beautiful, less frequented spot. The surf is great, sunsets are fully visible all times of the year. Best is to bring along firewood and do a campfire just before sunset and stay hour or two after sunset. The experience is amazing, with campfire and the ocean roaring close by.

They typically have fire rings. Last time we did not find any. You can make a large pit very easily in the sand just with bare hands. A good place to get firewood is at Ace Hardware on State Park Drive. It is couple of exits north of San Andreas Rd exit for the beach.

To access it, from San Andreas Rd exit on hwy 1, take right on Oceanview Drive. Park on the side. Take steps on the right down to the beach. Go left on the beach.

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