Do you have any really vivid childhood memories? I have a few, but most of them take place in an unnamed beach town where I remember my family and I spending some time during the summer. I remembered deli sandwiches, sand castles, and shopping with my mom, but for the life of me I could not remember the name of the town.
Last year when KB and I took our first trip to Big Sur, I kept thinking to myself that the little beach town I remembered from my childhood had to be in the area. My family lived in San Jose at the time so it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to think that the small town couldn’t be too far. I made a quick call to my mom and had her confirm: the little town from my memories was called Capitola and it was only a short drive from our bed and breakfast! I told her that I had some really strong memories about our trip and she and my dad laughed – it wasn’t just one trip, apparently we spent a lot of summers in Capitola. KB was a good sport and we hopped in the car headed for the coast to relive my childhood!
Coming back to Capitola was the most surreal thing – so little has changed in ten years. From the brightly colored houses Capitola is known for (really it’s a hotel – the “Venetian”) to the tiny shops, memories came flooding back as all the places I remembered from being a kid are still standing tall!
While my favorite place to hang out is the beach, just to the side of the Venetian is the Capitola Wharf which has plenty to keep you entertained. People love to fish off the side of the pier and at the very end there is a restaurant. The wharf is also the best place to stage a photo with the pop-colored Venetian Hotel in the background! The pier gives a full view of Capitola beach and is a total must if you’re after a good photo to remember your trip by.
Okay, let’s have a moment of honesty here. The Venetian is not a five star hotel. In reality it seems more like a motel than a hotel at all. Putting that aside – it’s still ridiculously cute and I’m downright obsessed with the colors. KB couldn’t stop laughing at me because the two times we’ve been to Capitola together I’ve walked around with a big goofy grin. There’s just something about this colorful place that gets me giddy – plus it’s packed with childhood memories for me so it’s really nostalgic. KB and I kicked off our shoes and took walks up and down the beach soaking in the sun (the weather was perfect!) while snapping some photos.
My belly was totally poking out in my off the shoulder dress (links to similar styles below!) from the margarita we had earlier, but I was so happy I didn’t care. I’m proud of my margarita belly.
Capitola isn’t a Southern California beach town – it’s not always warm – but when the weather is good, wow is it good. I racked up some major steps on my Fitbit as we walked the beach and soaked in the sun.
So about that margarita…there’s actually a restaurant called Margaritaville. Hi, hello, two please! KB ordered their classic house margarita while I opted for a girlier grapefruit infused margarita. Either way, the tequila was tasty and our seats overlooked the Venetian and the beach – perfection. I really had died and gone to heaven.
If you’re not a beach bum, Capitola is also packed with awesome restaurants and shops. After a margarita at Margaritaville, take a stroll through the village and check out all the local boutiques! My favorite shopping stop is a little lotion store called Panache which was in business way back when I was a little kid – and is still owned and operated by the same woman today! Panache sells plenty of premade lotions, scrubs, and beauty products, but you also have the option to custom make your own scent! Again KB was a good sport and waited patiently while I bought out the store. My favorite scent is the lemon verbena which my mom used to buy me on our family trips, so obviously I snagged a lotion and a body wash during our stop! I love when a scent brings back memories. Lemon verbena reeks of Capitola for me.
I love Capitola with all my heart. KB and I have been lucky enough to travel across the world to places like Florence, Dublin, and all over Europe. We’ve also tackled more than a few U.S. cities. Even with all that traveling under my belt, nothing beats the small beach town feel of Capitola. Dare I say it – Capitola might even be my favorite city of all time.
Have you ever been to Capitola? Where did you and your family go on family vacations? Tell me in the comments below!
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