Visit quaint Aptos for a unique mixture of historic buildings, unique shopping, sunny beaches, and awe-inspiring redwood forests. Wander the town’s 19th-century streets, hike through the lush quiet of Nisene Marks State Park and luxuriate in the soft sands of Seacliff State Beach. Wander through the bustling Aptos Farmers Market where the famous Santa Cruz County produce is at its best and then head down to Rancho del Mar to pick up a gift for friends back home. Then, at the end of a long day enjoying all of the attractions and shopping in Aptos, pick out a cozy spot for dinner. From neighborhood cafes to cute bistros to romantic fine dining restaurants, the dining experience in Aptos provides visitors a treat for the taste buds in any type of setting for every budget.
From the “Cement Ship” (The Palo Alto) to the wonderful neighborhoods, both beach and bluff front, Seacliff offers a special location. It has unique neighborhoods and a charming village. The famous Seacliff State Beach lies in this wonderful community. As well as the beginning of Rio Del Mar State Beach.
Attractions and Activities in Aptos
Strolling along the wooden walkways in front of 19th-century building facades, quaint little Aptos is an attraction in and of itself. Of course, as the gateway between Santa Cruz County’s beaches and redwood forests, Aptos attractions are much more far-reaching. Hike or bike along the Nisene Marks State Park’s 30 miles of trails and visit The Advocate – a redwood tree with a 45-foot circumference. Spend the day relaxing and picnicking at Seacliff State Beach and take a gander at the curious SS Palo Alto, a concrete ship with its own festival in June.
Aptos History Museum
Aptos History Museum is focused on the incredibly rich and fascinating history of a relatively compact area – the few square miles that makeup Aptos Village, Rio Del Mar, Seacliff, Seascape, and the surrounding hills and beaches. The Aptos History Museum is a wonderful community asset with a fantastic collection of local artifacts, photographs, and information. It is made possible by the many volunteers who continue to donate their time and talent. The museum operates financially solely from memberships and donations, and, if you have not already done so, I encourage you to become a museum member and/or volunteer with us in any capacity that you can. Your comments, ideas, or suggestions are always welcome.
Forest of Nisene Marks State Park Campground
The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is located outside of Aptos in the Santa Cruz area. The entire park is essentially covered in a redwood forest canopy and the canyons of Aptos Creek and Bridge Creek are exceptionally lush with sorrel, ferns, and moss in abundance. The area has a long history of human extraction and destruction. At the turn of the century, loggers ravaged these canyons and pulled out 24 million square feet of lumber. All logging operations ended in the early 1920′s and thankfully, nature has reclaimed these canyons.
Seacliff State Beach Campground
This long stretch of sand and bluffs has great accessible facilities including picnic areas, an interpretive center, and RV camping. This beach is known for its fishing pier and fossils of extinct marine creatures in the bluffs. The beach is also a popular swimming spot. One of the most unusual attractions in the Santa Cruz area rests at the end of the fishing pier. The USS Palo Alto, one of only three cement ships built during World War I, has been a popular attraction for visitors since it was put in place in 1929. The plan was to turn the ship and the pier into an amusement and fishing ship. The Cal-Nevada Company quickly constructed a dance floor on the main deck, a cafe in the superstructure of the ship, a 4-foot heated swimming pool and a series of carnival type concessions on the aft-deck. Unfortunately, the Cal-Nevada Company went bankrupt after only two seasons. The ship was then stripped, leaving the pier and the ship to be used only for fishing.
Pleasant Valley Horse Club
Pleasant Valley Horse Club is set in the California hills near Monterey Bay, surrounded by apple orchards, vineyards, and coastal redwoods. We are a family-owned and operated business teaching equestrian skills to children and adults. Here you can learn to care for and handle a horse and ride Western or English.
Dining in Aptos
Like all of the Santa Cruz County towns, dining in Aptos is primarily characterized by the locally-grown produce and freshly-caught seafood from Monterey Bay. Though the restaurants in Aptos provide visitors with a variety of cuisines from all over the world, the town’s specialties are French, Italian and Mediterranean. Local and tourist favorites include Aptos Pizza, Au Midi, Bittersweet Bistro, Café Sparrow Restaurant, Ma Maison Restaurant, Severino’s Bar and Grill and Zameen.
Sanderlings Restaurant, where your dining experience is as spectacular as the view. Located 9 miles south of Santa Cruz and bordered by Monterey Bay to the west, Sanderlings Restaurant at Seascape Beach Resort offers elegant, casual dining with a spectacular ocean view from sunrise to sunset. Sanderlings restaurant features: ~ An award-winning menu including traditional and contemporary dishes made with the freshest local ingredients, accompanied by a fine selection of local wines. ~ California Coastal cuisine including selections of seafood, steaks, pasta and other California classics. ~ Ocean-view patio, balconies and private dining areas perfect for those special moments: birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, wedding rehearsals and other memorable events.
Shopping in Aptos
The place to go for shopping in Aptos is Rancho del Mar – an outdoor mall that the town claims to be one of Santa Cruz County’s best outdoor shopping centers. In addition to some chain stores, Rancho del Mar is home to locally-owned gems that include Aptos Jewelers, Bike Station Aptos, Bookworks and Mad Molecule. Stop by Deluxe Foods of Aptos or the Aptos Farmers Market to sample some of the area’s renowned local produce. Shoppers will also find a selection of flowers and locally-produced art at the farmers market.