Capitola Loves Its Dogs
by Sandi Pensinger
Charming Capitola-by-the-Sea lies on the northern side of California’s Monterey Bay, tucked in a river valley. The beach there was originally a logging port for nearby Soquel’s redwood mills; then in the late 1800s, Capitola became a seaside resort and today remains a fun place to visit – especially in the company of your canine partner.
Exploring Capitola starts with a visit to Gayle’s Bakery for leisurely coffee and scrumptious pastries. Their dog-friendly patio is under cover. Cases of fairy cakes, artisan breads, and deli dishes will beckon to you. Metered public parking may be found two blocks from Gayle’s.
In the village you will find bowls of water outside dozens of shops, a welcoming sign for dog guardians. The Esplanade along the beach is a favorite as its benches along the seawall overlook the bay for contemplation or for people- watching. Although Capitola does not allow dogs on the beach, there are beautiful walks to enjoy with your dog.
The Depot Hill Cliff Walk starts near the beach on Monterey Avenue and climbs up an impressive staircase to overlook the village, the wharf and the bay before you. Walk along the cliff top to see views of Monterey. In the summer, otters and seals play in the kelp beds below while pelican squadrons glide by and surfers play on the waves. Many of the Victorian homes on Cliff Avenue were built in the late 1800’s. The neighborhoods of Depot Hill provide an easy walk, with beautiful gardens.
The Riverview Pathway is a favorite dog-walking path along Soquel Creek. You will wind along under the trestle bridge and past the red Windmill House. Once you come to the street, turn left and continue for three blocks through the Riverview Drive neighborhood. At the end you will find Peery Park and a pedestrian bridge over the creek. On the opposite side are the ruins of Rispin Mansion, which was built by one of Capitola’s founders. Continue on down Wharf Road back down the hill to the beach.
You might also want to stop by the local history museum and take one of the walking tours led by museum director, Carolyn Swift, and her volunteer staff. It’s located in the old schoolhouse next to city hall. Dogs are welcome!
For lunch, choose from Bluewater Steakhouse with its dog-friendly patio, Pizza My Heart where you can order a slice, or Taqueria Baja for takeout; all less than a block from the beach and Esplanade Park.
After a good day of dog walking and enjoyable meals, you can camp with your dog amongst the pine and oak trees overlooking Monterey Bay at New Brighton State Beach. Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach and in the campground. If you prefer sleeping indoors, treat Fido to an elegant room at the Monarch Cove Inn, a Victorian mansion built in 1883, or stay in a comfortable room at the Capitola Inn perched on a hill within walking distance from town and the beach.
You will surely have some great memories of your stay, and you may be back to Capitola sooner than you planned!
Sandi Pensinger owns Living with Dogs, offering Family Manners, Puppy Preschool, Reactive Rover, Agility, Treibball and sport training classes in Santa Cruz County. She enjoys training her Jack Russell Terriers as much as she enjoys helping her clients achieve their goals. Find out about her dog-training classes at www.livingwithdogs.us.