10 Day Trips to take on your Capitola Vacation

There are MANY benefits to renting a beach house in Capitola Village – one being that everything is just steps away! Many of our guests share that they didn’t have to move their car for their whole stay! You can leave your car parked and walk to shops and boutiques, restaurants and cafes, wine tasting rooms and tap houses, salons, and – of course – the beach!

Well, what if you’d like to venture out of Capitola Village and see “what’s out there”? Follow our list below of our Top 10 Favorite Day Trips that you can take on your Capitola Vacation:

1. Big Sur Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Falls

Take this hour and a half scenic and incredibly beautiful drive down Highway 1 South. Be sure to have your phone charged to take photos along the way. There are plenty of places to stop and get out, take a selfie, or just a photo of the view, including the famous Bixby Bridge. Continue on the highway and we highly recommend taking the trip all the way to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and check out the famous waterfall (photo above) – it’s just a 10 minute walk from the road. Since you’re going to get hungry, our two favorite choices are: the Restaurant at River Inn Big Sur where you can enjoy your meal on the patio while taking in the view of the Big Sur River and then walk down to the river and sit in it on adirondack chairs – or if you’d like to dine with a view of the Pacific Ocean, then you MUST go to Nepenthe.

2. Carmel Valley

Refuge Day Spa in Carmel

Drive down the coast on Highway One and cut through to Carmel Valley for a different kind of scenic view. Drive through the rolling hills and grapevines and enjoy a plethora of relaxing activities! We HIGHLY recommend spending a very relaxing day at Refuge Day Spa! This is a silent spa to retreat and treat yourself to a massage or facial, and then enjoy a couple hours in the hot and cold pools, saunas, steam rooms, read around the fireplaces or a hammock. Ahhhh. After your day at the spa, head over to Carmel Valley Ranch and enjoy a delicious lunch! Finish off the day and explore Carmel Wine Country and “wine down” with some wine tasting.

3. Carmel by the Sea

Carmel Beach

For a great day in Carmel by the Sea, which is about an hour down Highway One, simply turn off of Ocean Street and you are set to go for a day filled with shopping at some amazing shops and boutiques, then get some lunch (or brunch) at Stationaery, which is a delightful hidden gem of a restaurant with delicious food options, then cruise down to Carmel Beach and spend a day relishing in the white sand, turquoise blue ocean waters.

4. Pebble Beach

The Lone Cypress Pebble Beach

Another incredibly scenic drive (actually our whole Central Coast is scenic!) is 17 Mile Drive. There are 17 stops you can make along this 17 mile drive (including the infamous Lone Cypress Tree photographed above), so either pack a picnic or some snacks, but definitely make sure to charge your camera or phone to take 100s of photos of the scenery. Perhaps you have heard of the U.S. Open? Voted as the No. 1 Golf Course in the USA, it’s not wonder that the U.S. Open has been hosted here 6 times (2019 was the last time it was hosted here)! So grab your clubs, make a reservation and golf this gorgeous course! After you thought you couldn’t have a better day, be sure to book an appointment to get a massage at the Pebble Beach Spa! After your massage, you’re going to be so hungry, so walk on over to any of the restaurants at Pebble Beach.

5. Monterey and Pacific Grove

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Another must-do on your day-trip adventures is the Monterey Bay Aquarium! This incredible aquarium highly values ocean conservation and with over 200 exhibits and 35,000 sea creatures, you are guaranteed to have an amazing experience – no matter how old you are! Spend the day here and then walk to the Fisherman’s Wharf and grab a cup of clam chowder at Old Fisherman’s Grotto! Before you head back to Capitola, walk off your chowder and take a stroll along the path of Pacific Grove (which is a very short drive past the aquarium).

6. Moss Landing

Moss Landing at Sunset

Another place to plan a quick day trip adventure is Moss Landing! Only about 20 minutes from Capitola on your way to Monterey, is a great little stop at Elkhorn Slough. You’ve probably driven past it while on your way to Monterey or Carmel. Spend your time kayaking through the slough, spotting sea otters, sea lions and more. Walk along the jetty and spot some sun-bathing sea lions or look up in the sky and go bird-watching! After a fun day at Moss Landing, line up for the best sea food in the area at Phil’s Fish Market! Choose from a wide variety of delicious fresh fish and then afterward, walk down to the beach to watch the sunset into the ocean. What a perfect little day!

7. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Downtown Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Many travelers come to our area to visit Santa Cruz and go to the Boardwalk. We have the joy of sharing our happy place of Capitola Village with so many new travelers who come into our office and share that they “stumbled upon” Capitola Village and stay with us every year! Perhaps you can relate. Anyway, we think Santa Cruz is super special, too and it’s just a five minute drive up Highway One (or we recommend taking East Cliff Drive)! Not only do you have the fun rides, food, shops and beach at the Boardwalk, but there are tons of fun events scattered throughout the year, too. After you’ve spent the most fun day at the Boardwalk, be sure to go Downtown Santa Cruz, grab a bite at any of the delicious eateries at Abbott Square, and shop around through the dozens of locally-owned shops.

8. Davenport


Wanna just get outta town for an hour or two? Davenport is our favorite Sunday afternoon adventure destination. Just 25 minutes or so driving North on Highway One is this darling little drive-by town called Davenport. Stop at Whale City Bakery for breakfast, then walk across the highway to the cliffs, take some pictures through the eucalyptus grove, and gaze out into the ocean searching for whales. After you’ve spent some relaxing moments here, drive just a little further up the road to Swanton Berry Farms. This is a farm stand off the side of the highway where you can taste and purchase their homemade jam, take a piece of strawberry shortcake from the fridge, or pour yourself some cider! You can also pick up some fresh strawberries, too at their U-Pick space! Be sure to bring cash with you because you can pay for your items via the honor system. How cool is that?

9. Half Moon Bay

Kayak at Half Moon Bay

Located about an hour north on Highway One is a lovely town called Half Moon Bay. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and a walking and shopping district on Main Street, you are sure to enjoy a wonderful getaway day trip to Half Moon Bay. There’s much to do here. From shopping eclectic and adorable small-town shops and boutiques on Main Street to kayaking or walking the path along the shore, you’re sure to love this town. If you like Italian food, we recommend getting reservations at Pasta Moon and watch the sunset with cocktails at the Ritz Carlton.

10. San Francisco

San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridge

Drive all the way up Highway One (roughly an hour and a half to two hours) to San Francisco. There’s undeniably an abundance of things to do in this amazing city. You can’t do it all in one day, that’s for sure. But, if we were to pick a couple things to do in a day-trip, we’d recommend spending the day at the San Francisco Zoo, which is located off of Highway One. Then after you’ve explored and said “hi” to all the animals, drive a little bit further into the city to the Golden Gate Bridge and stop for some seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf.


What are some of your favorite things to do in the day trip locations we have listed above? Can’t wait to hear all about your adventures in the Monterey Bay and beyond!