After the 100 degree temps we had a couple of weeks ago, I decided it might be a good idea to head to the beach for a nice little family getaway to cool down. After skimming through some rental sites, I booked a pretty short notice trip for us to stay a few nights out in Capitola, Ca. at the Capitola Hotel. I was hoping to get into one of the pink or purple houses actually on the beach, but it turns out those are private residences. Luckily, the hotel had their private room w/ a kitchenette available which is perfect for traveling with kids so off we went.
The hotel room, called the Grand Cayman, is a small little studio that sits facing the main street, Esplanade Road. This is where the beach front bars and restaurants are which is both a good and bad thing. During the day, you are right there in the mix and don’t have to worry about trekking around or looking for parking. Plus, there is a nice little private patio with a table and chairs for dining outside. For kids, nap time is as simple as walking off the beach and into your room. The bad thing is that at 2AM, when the bars close, all hell breaks loose and there is a bunch of drunk, cackling girls blurting out whatever is on their drunken mind at the top of their voice as they slowly walk by the hotel.
After checking in, the first thing we did was walk up the pier to see what the story was for fishing. There is a great little bait & tackle shop at the end of the pier where we bought a starter fishing kit for my son and some smelly bait. The young lady behind the counter was kind enough to set it up and we were fishing off the wharf within 5 minutes. For the next hour or so, my son learned why it is called fishing and not catching.
As for restaurant choices, there are several options in the little downtown beach area – none of which light the world on fire. That said, we did not eat at Bella Roma, a tiny little Italian restaurant with good reviews, so there could be a ray of hope there.
Zelda’s is a good spot for a late breakfast,Mimosas, and Bloody Mary’s. The Brit is a British Pub that serves up fish & chips, bangers & mash, Black & Tans. The Fog Bank is really a dive bar, but tries to serve food.
There is also a Surfing Dog hotdog joint, but don’t get too excited as the choices are slim. The best place, in my humble opinion, is Pizza My Heart. And this is coming from someone who can’t even eat cheese. It is so good that my son demanded to eat here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One night we did order a whole pizze, their Big Sur, a smack your Grandma scrumptious pizza pie with 40 cloves of garlic baked in.
Capitola may be best known for this unmistakable beach front lined with colorful houses, as pictured above. Of course, the whole point of this little mini-vaca was the beach. The water is hellaciously cold though so unless you are a dolphin or have a wetsuit, as an adult, it is very unlikely you will spend much time actually in the water. Kids seem to possess some weird internal blood warmer so expect them to run into the water every chance they get. The beach is clean though so I take my time and bury them in the sand to keep them from running off. Directly behind this beach front is a quiet, little river with a beautiful, old, wooden railroad bridge.
The Venetian Hotel, pictured below, sits just above the line of pink and purple houses. And just around the corner is one of two wine tasting rooms in downtown Capitola.
While the architecture is pretty interesting, there was a flower on the gate of our hotel patio that stopped everyone in their tracks. “Oh, what is this beautiful flower you are growing?”, they would ask. We had no idea since we were just hotel guests, but a nice passerby clued us in – turns out it is a passion-flower. It has a very cool looking blossom – something between an Iris and an Orchid on a Potato Plant vine. Of course, the true beauty was playing at the beach.
And no trip to Capitola would be complete without a stop at Mr. Toots – at least not for a 6 yr old boy.