Capitola with Kids Ultimate Guide + The Best Things To Do

Looking for where to stay and the best things to do in Capitola with kids? We just got back from a weekend trip there, and I have all the details you need on what to do while you’re there, best places to stay, and kid-friendly spots to eat! 

On the northern coast of California, Capitola is a small, charming town that somehow gives off both vintage California and European vibes. That’s probably why it’s one of the most visited towns in the state and named a best California beach town by USA Today!

It has so much to offer families because there is something for everyone. Beaches, an adorable downtown, delicious food, cute parks, and stunning views everywhere. 

And my favorite part is how compact and walkable it is. You can easily park your car and not get back into it until you leave town, if you choose (but there ARE a couple of gems you might want to drive to).

Another added bonus is the calm nature of the town. It’s so comforting and friendly that it’s hard to leave! We were all pretty bummed on our way out of town.

So, if you’re looking for a relaxing, small town beach getaway or extending a trip to the Bay Area- read below on my best tips for what to do in Capitola with kids!

Key Takeaways

  •  Capitola is a charming coastal town with plenty to do for everyone in the family. 
  • A few of the best places to visit in Capitola are the beaches, the Capitola Village, the Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery, the Venetian Court, and Cummings County Park. 
  • Capitola offers many beachside accommodations, but the most famous is the Capitola Venetian. 

And if you’re heading to neighboring Santa Cruz, 
➡️ read over my ultimate weekend guide to Santa Cruz with kids here!

Table of Contents

Where to Stay in Capitola with Kids

📍 Luxury Choice

Capitola Venetian Hotel 
We stayed here and LOVED it. A funky, all-suite, boutique hotel right on the beach. Each suite is different, some are studios while others offer 2 bedrooms, some have beach views and balconies too.

It’s in the perfect location, right on the beach and right next to the bridge to walk over to the Village. It also offers free parking. It’s a little pricey and they book up fast, but it’s SO worth it. 

Note that the colorful houses are privately owned, and some are available for rent. The hotel rooms are the lighter brown houses behind them.

➡️ Check prices and book your stay at the Capitola Venetian Hotel by clicking here!

📍 Mid-range Choice

Capitola Beach Suites
Just steps behind the Venetian, this all-suite boutique hotel has studio and 1-bedroom options, all with full kitchens. Almost all rooms have ocean views!

There’s a roof-top terrace with a fireplace and gorgeous views too.

➡️ Check prices and book your stay at the Capitola Beach Suites by clicking here!

📍 Value Choice

Fairfield Inn and Suites Santa Cruz – Capitola
A very family-friendly hotel at a reasonable price. Offers King or Queen suites that have a seating area and kitchenette. It has all of the amenities you would want in a hotel—pool and hot tub, free breakfast, free parking, laundry facilities, even beach chairs. 

It’s a short walk to Hopper’s Beach. 

➡️ Check prices and book your stay at the Fairfield Inn and Suites by clicking here!

Best Things to Do in Capitola With Kids

Beaches

1. Capitola Beach

A popular beach in the area, Capitola Beach offers you everything you need for a fun beach day.

There are volleyball courts, showers, lifeguards, restrooms, and a fishing pier. You’ll see people playing in the water, boogie boarding, kite flying, or even kayaking away from the shore. (The Wharf has rental shops).

It’s also a short walk in the sand over to the Village, where there are plenty of restaurants and shops. The beach is also host to many different family-friendly events all summer, like movie nights, art shows, or outdoor music. Parking (try parking at the Village and walk over) to find so come early!

2. New Brighton Beach

If you want less crowds, this is your beach. It’s a little secluded and offers a quieter, more relaxing atmosphere. It’s wide with plenty of room to spread out but you do have to go downhill (ramp or stairs, not super stroller or wagon friendly though).

There are bathrooms and showers next to the parking lot ($10 to park). 

capitola beach

3. Capitola Village

The charming central area of town, the Village, has a quaint, European beach-side community vibe. It’s a few (stroller friendly) blocks of restaurants, boutiques, galleries, candy and ice cream shops, even breweries and wine tasting rooms.

It’s right on the beach and all of the restaurants along the water have large patios— the perfect spot for a meal. There are plenty of benches along the beach as well for parents to relax on while the kids run around, or for people to eat takeout from one of the many restaurants in the area.

After we had dinner, we walked through the Village and sat on a bench overlooking the beach. The boys couldn’t sit still for more than a few minutes and jumped on the beach to run around and play in the sand with the other kids. It was such a great evening!

Learn more about the Village here. 

capitola village is a great place to visit when in capitola with kids

4. Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery

In the Capitola Mall (which is random, but at least parking is easy), it’s a little over a mile from the center of town but WELL worth the drive.

There are multiple rooms jam packed with a range of hands-on activities. A play pizza shop, train area, rock climbing wall, a playhouse with a garden, musical instrument area, kinetic sand box, a race car track…the list goes on. There’s also a gated baby area too.

This place is incredible and definitely a must see when in Capitola! An added bonus is that there are a ton of different dining options next door including a Starbucks if you want to go early when it opens.

Check it out here. 

capitola childrens museum is a must see when in capitola with kids

5. Capitola Venetian Court

Even if you’re not staying at the Venetian, you must walk over to take some fun pictures! It’s a few rows of brightly colored Mediterranean-style buildings, right on the beach.

Walk around and find your favorite colors for a background or go on the beach side and use the rows of houses as the backdrop. We had so much fun exploring and taking pictures of the buildings in our favorite colors.

Remember that people ARE in those houses though, so be respectful when you’re walking through.

Note: the best time to get pictures without shadows is between 2pm-4pm. They’ll still look good no matter what time, but I realized that was the time the sunlight was perfect.
 

venetian court in capitola

6. Soquel Creek Walk

Right across the street from the Village is a walking path along the Soquel Creek. It’s a quiet and relaxing walk with views of the Creek, lots of beautiful flowers and trees, and ducks enjoying the water.

The path has the water on one side and houses on the other, but the homeowners are very friendly as you walk by. I put both boys in the stroller for our walk, and it was very easy to get it through.

It doesn’t take too long to get through it either. Enter at Stockton Ave and the Esplanade. 

soquel creek in capitola

7. Anna Jean Cummings County Park

Less than a 10-minute drive from the Village is Cummings Park. It’s actually in neighboring Soquel, but worth getting out of the area to visit.

It’s a large park with two different play areas, one for 5+ years, the other for 2-5 years. The highlight of the park is two extra steep wavy slides. The stairway to the slides also leads you to a huge field with a running track around it.

Nearby are pavilions with a few picnic tables. There are bathrooms and a medium sized parking lot. Overall, a great park!

cummings park in capitola

What to Eat in Capitola with Kids

Lunch options: 

Mijo’s Taqueria – Low-key Mexican fare in Capitola Village. Counter service.

Pizza my Heart– Pizza and salads in Capitola Village. Take out only.

Castagnola Deli – Custom sandwiches and beach boxes in Capitola Village.

Avenue Café – Classic American fare a few blocks from Capitola Village.

Dinner options: 

Shadowbrook – Very well-known around town for an awesome dining experience.

Caruso’s Tuscan Cuisine– Classic Italian fare in Capitola Village.

Zelda’s on the Beach – Beachfront in Capitola Village with a huge outdoor patio.

Margaritaville – Mexican food in Capitola Village with an outdoor patio.

Paradise Beach Grille – American cuisine in Capitola Village with an outdoor patio. 

How to Get to Capitola

SJC: The closest airport to Capitola is San Jose International Airport, it’s a little over 30 miles away and about 45 minutes without traffic. SJC is a small-ish, easily manageable airport.

SFO: San Francisco International Airport is roughly 60 miles north of Capitola and about an hour away without traffic. SFO is a beast of an airport. You’ll most likely find more direct options for flights at a cheaper price, but you’ll have to deal with the craziness.

OAK: Oakland International Airport is about 65 miles away from Capitola. Unless you’re starting your trip in the Bay Area and then heading to the beach, I wouldn’t recommend flying into Oakland for a Capitola trip. But if you’re staying in the Bay first, I prefer it because it’s smaller than SFO.

  ⚠️ Flying with kids for the first time? 

Read over my expert tips for flying with kids here. 
If you’re traveling with teeny tiny ones, read my tips for flying with newborns here. 

FAQs: Capitola with Kids

Is Capitola family-friendly?

Capitola is very family-friendly!

There are plenty of activities for the whole family around town, restaurants have kid menus (one restaurant we visited even have frisbees as kids plates!), and there are many hotels that offer family suites for more room. 

The beach hosts many different family-friendly events all summer, like movie nights, art shows, or outdoor music

Is Capitola CA worth visiting?

Capitola is absolutely worth visiting! There’s a reason that it’s one of the most visited towns in the state and named a best California beach town by USA Today!

Whether you are visiting with a family, friends, or a couple, there is plenty to do. 

Capitola offers an amazing mix of classic California and European vibes. You can visit the beach, the adorable downtown, delicious restaurants, or just view the calm beauty of the area!

Wrapping up: Capitola with Kids

Capitola with kids can be such a fun experience. Not only is the atmosphere addicting, but there’s a variety of experiences and attractions that will keep everyone entertained.

Besides the fun beach, the downtown Village, and beautiful scenery, Capitola has lots of gems for little kids like the Children’s Museum and many indoor play areas.

Be sure to look into the Capitola Venetian for an awesome hotel experience! If they’re booked, try to snag a room at the Capitola Beach Suites.

Have fun in Capitola! 

MEET BESA

Your Go-To Girl for Beach Travel

Hi! I’m Besa. I’ve always been a travel-loving beach bum… and then I had kids. Two boys, born 19 months apart. But I didn’t let that stop me. I still travel, even with a couple little boys in tow – and I want to help other parents like you do the same!

I’ll be sharing all my travel tips, beach hacks, and guides for some of my favorite family vacation beach spots.

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Why Trust Beaches and Babies?

Besa has been a frequent traveler for almost 20 years, and the last five years of her travels have included her two toddler boys, 19 months apart.
Years of flying and beach bumming with her kids has given her plenty of hard-earned experience in the travel world.

Need Help Booking Your Trip?
Use My Favorite Resources!

FLIGHTS
Kayak searches hundreds of travel sites for the lowest prices plus the flexible calendar tells you which days are the cheapest to fly.

LODGING
booking.com is easy to use and gives options for all types of lodging. When I know I want a big rental house, I use VRBO.

RENTAL CARS
rentalcars.com scans multiple agencies at your destination to give you the best price.

ACTIVITIES
Viator lets you search for a specific activity at your destination or scroll all available.

Read over my full list of the best sites to book with on my Resources page.