Guidebook for Aptos

Chuck

Guidebook for Aptos

Food Scene
By far our favorite go-to place for food and drinks. Our parents "discovered" this gem about 50 years ago, and we've been going ever since. Check out their nightly specials, especially on Friday (Red Snapper) or Saturday (bacon wrapped shrimp). Rather than get combination plates (which are terrific) order a half salad, and enchilada or chile relleno, and perhaps a half order of beans. They have margaritas by the glass or pitcher, but don't ask to have it blended.
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Manuel's Mexican Restaurant
261 Center Avenue
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By far our favorite go-to place for food and drinks. Our parents "discovered" this gem about 50 years ago, and we've been going ever since. Check out their nightly specials, especially on Friday (Red Snapper) or Saturday (bacon wrapped shrimp). Rather than get combination plates (which are terrific) order a half salad, and enchilada or chile relleno, and perhaps a half order of beans. They have margaritas by the glass or pitcher, but don't ask to have it blended.
Great place, a little hard to find, for breakfast or lunch. Located above the B of A in the Rio Del Mar shopping center, the Red Apple Cafe has wonderful scrambles and omelets, as well has sandwiches and burgers. Eat outside or inside. Full bar available; hey, you're on vacation!
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Red Apple Café
783 Rio Del Mar Boulevard
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Great place, a little hard to find, for breakfast or lunch. Located above the B of A in the Rio Del Mar shopping center, the Red Apple Cafe has wonderful scrambles and omelets, as well has sandwiches and burgers. Eat outside or inside. Full bar available; hey, you're on vacation!
We were married at the Shadowbrook because it's just to darned romantic. On the river in Capitola, with a gondola to take you from street level down to the bar and restaurant. Gorgeous, quiet, excellent food, and not too expensive. Happy hour as well.
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Shadowbrook Restaurant
1750 Wharf Road
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We were married at the Shadowbrook because it's just to darned romantic. On the river in Capitola, with a gondola to take you from street level down to the bar and restaurant. Gorgeous, quiet, excellent food, and not too expensive. Happy hour as well.
Everyone loves Cafe Bittersweet, due to it's romatic setting and excellent food. I am not as big of a fan as I had some pretty crappy service, and I have nursed a grudge since then. However, many people love it for drinks and (pricey) dinners.
Café Bittersweet
787 Rio Del Mar Blvd
Everyone loves Cafe Bittersweet, due to it's romatic setting and excellent food. I am not as big of a fan as I had some pretty crappy service, and I have nursed a grudge since then. However, many people love it for drinks and (pricey) dinners.
Nice Mexican restaurant with a view of Monterey Bay. I prefer the food at Manuel's, but this is a really nice place with ample parking, good prices, and a full bar.
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Palapas Restaurant & Cantina
Seascape Boulevard
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Nice Mexican restaurant with a view of Monterey Bay. I prefer the food at Manuel's, but this is a really nice place with ample parking, good prices, and a full bar.
This has got to be one of the most successful restaurants on the West Coast. It's always busy, has live music on most nights upstairs, and is gorgeous inside. Right on the harbor, you can watch the boats enter and leave the harbor at all hours. The first place I can recall that had a salad bar, and it's a good one. Weeknight specials in the off-second M-Th.
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Crow's Nest Restaurant
2218 East Cliff Drive
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This has got to be one of the most successful restaurants on the West Coast. It's always busy, has live music on most nights upstairs, and is gorgeous inside. Right on the harbor, you can watch the boats enter and leave the harbor at all hours. The first place I can recall that had a salad bar, and it's a good one. Weeknight specials in the off-second M-Th.
Nice sushi restaurant right downtown. Park in the Front Street Parking Garage.
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Shogun Japanese Restaurant
1123 Pacific Avenue
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Nice sushi restaurant right downtown. Park in the Front Street Parking Garage.
This is a combination fish market and restaurant. Casual, fun, and right in the working harbor of Moss Landing. Not inexpensive, but really good fish and chips, sandwiches, chowder, and so much more. You can get chowder and cioppino to go as well.
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Phil's Fish Market & Eatery
7600 Sandholdt Road
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This is a combination fish market and restaurant. Casual, fun, and right in the working harbor of Moss Landing. Not inexpensive, but really good fish and chips, sandwiches, chowder, and so much more. You can get chowder and cioppino to go as well.
What? You're recommending a place called Super Taqueria? What gives? Well, it's quality Mexican fast food, inexpensive, and convenient. Nice staff, with wonderful burritos, tacos, etc. My favorite is the deluxe carnitas burrito, but it's all good.
Super Taqueria
720 Main Street
What? You're recommending a place called Super Taqueria? What gives? Well, it's quality Mexican fast food, inexpensive, and convenient. Nice staff, with wonderful burritos, tacos, etc. My favorite is the deluxe carnitas burrito, but it's all good.
This is a superb organic farmstand, which pulls the food from the farmland immediately behind it. Run by Rich and Laura Everett, the food is always seasonal, fresh, and organic. Depending on when you arrive, you'll find apples, peppers, tomatoes, root vegetables, and always Laura's Apple Cider (hard and soft). Well worth the short drive from Rio del Mar.
Everett Family Farm
2111 Soquel San Jose Rd
This is a superb organic farmstand, which pulls the food from the farmland immediately behind it. Run by Rich and Laura Everett, the food is always seasonal, fresh, and organic. Depending on when you arrive, you'll find apples, peppers, tomatoes, root vegetables, and always Laura's Apple Cider (hard and soft). Well worth the short drive from Rio del Mar.
Our only Felton entry, the Cremer House is a lovely old family place with an interesting (and brief) menu. Full bar, famous fried chicken and burgers. Plenty of parking. We really like this place.
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The Cremer House
6256 Highway 9
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Our only Felton entry, the Cremer House is a lovely old family place with an interesting (and brief) menu. Full bar, famous fried chicken and burgers. Plenty of parking. We really like this place.
Very nice, family-oriented Thai restaurant. Great food, very reasonable prices, and polite and attentive service. We go there about twice a month.
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Sabieng
1218 Mission Street
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Very nice, family-oriented Thai restaurant. Great food, very reasonable prices, and polite and attentive service. We go there about twice a month.
Drinks & Nightlife
This is much more than a bar, but it has a nice one as well. Located as close to our place as is possible, Cafe Rio has fine dining, easy parking, and a nice ambience.
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Café Rio Aptos
131 Esplanade
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This is much more than a bar, but it has a nice one as well. Located as close to our place as is possible, Cafe Rio has fine dining, easy parking, and a nice ambience.
Parks & Nature
Gorgeous hiking trails among the coastal redwoods. Lots of trails to choose from. Some poison oak in season, but generally nice trails and scenic beauty. Some biking trails as well.
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The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
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Gorgeous hiking trails among the coastal redwoods. Lots of trails to choose from. Some poison oak in season, but generally nice trails and scenic beauty. Some biking trails as well.
This is a gorgeous beach, but it is made special by the USS Palo Alto, a 420' long "cement ship" that was intentionally grounded here in the 1930s. Fascinating, but unfortunately the deterioration is such that it's no longer safe to walk on it.
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Seacliff State Beach
State Park Drive
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This is a gorgeous beach, but it is made special by the USS Palo Alto, a 420' long "cement ship" that was intentionally grounded here in the 1930s. Fascinating, but unfortunately the deterioration is such that it's no longer safe to walk on it.
Famous surf spot on the West Coast. Lots of free parking and free viewing of the surf action. Around the corner is "It's Beach" which is dog-friendly and fun.
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Steamer Lane
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Famous surf spot on the West Coast. Lots of free parking and free viewing of the surf action. Around the corner is "It's Beach" which is dog-friendly and fun.
Famous for the incredible redwoods that are so easy to get to. One is 285' tall, and there's a short path that leads you to the most interest trees. Longer paths are available for more strenuous hikes. $10 to park; it's a great deal.
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Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park Campground
2591 Graham Hill Rd
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Famous for the incredible redwoods that are so easy to get to. One is 285' tall, and there's a short path that leads you to the most interest trees. Longer paths are available for more strenuous hikes. $10 to park; it's a great deal.
Sightseeing
2.5 mile paved path from the Dream Inn Hotel to Natural Bridges State Park. Gorgeous views, secret beaches. Hand mile markers allow you to gauge your progress as you walk. Start and end anywhere. If you can't park at the lighthouse, just keep going west until you find a place at the numerous parking lots.
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West Cliff Drive
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2.5 mile paved path from the Dream Inn Hotel to Natural Bridges State Park. Gorgeous views, secret beaches. Hand mile markers allow you to gauge your progress as you walk. Start and end anywhere. If you can't park at the lighthouse, just keep going west until you find a place at the numerous parking lots.
Entertainment & Activities
If you like steam trains and nature, this is a great expedition for half a day. They have a train (diesel) that runs to Santa Cruz and ends up at the Boardwalk (lots of fun) as well as a steam train that runs up into the mountains. Even if you're not a steam buff, you'll have a good time.
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Roaring Camp
5401 Graham Hill Road
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If you like steam trains and nature, this is a great expedition for half a day. They have a train (diesel) that runs to Santa Cruz and ends up at the Boardwalk (lots of fun) as well as a steam train that runs up into the mountains. Even if you're not a steam buff, you'll have a good time.
Arts & Culture
Lovely local museum with stuff going on all the time. Some of the evening activities are free to the public, otherwise there is a modest charge. Local history as well has temporary exhibits.
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Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History
705 Front Street
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Lovely local museum with stuff going on all the time. Some of the evening activities are free to the public, otherwise there is a modest charge. Local history as well has temporary exhibits.