Aptos – Unassuming Coastal Getaway
Situated in the heart of California, Sacramento is just a short drive from countless amazing destinations – many often overlooked by out-of-state tourists.
Nestled between the highly popular Santa Cruz and Monterey and just about three hours away from the Sacramento-Foothills area is Aptos. It’s a quiet little town boasting some of the best beaches and forestland around.
Those familiar with the Central Coast and Bay Area may know it for its long stretch of sand and numerous beaches that stretch from Rio Del Mar and Seacliff State Beach (home of the iconic cement ship) to just south of the agricultural mecca of Watsonville. Access is plentiful yet sporadic through residential neighborhoods and scenic back roads. Locals and visitors alike are drawn to this particular grove of oceanic oases for their lack of commercialism and abundance of dolphins and sand dollars.
Aptos is undoubtedly small – compact for what it offers. Its range of terrain is impressive. Just across Highway One tucked behind its version of a historic downtown is the Forest of Nisene Marks, a redwood-rich state park with more than 30 miles of hiking and biking trails. In the grand scheme of forests and state parks, it too is small, but its appeal is that it’s somewhat of a local secret – quiet, cared for, somewhat hidden, and definitely worth a visit.
For all its natural beauty and recreational possibilities, Aptos still boasts a surprising number of businesses. The tiny two-screen Aptos Twin has been showing mainstream films for decades. It sits next to the Aptos Shoe Store, a trendy boutique for those who like to look stylish wherever they go. Across the street is Burger, where the Jedi Sliders or Spicoli burger can be paired with a creamsicle float or beer shake.
A few miles away sits the Seascape Resort, one of Santa Cruz County’s only beachfront resorts. It’s a stone’s throw away from Palapas Restaurant and Cantina, which boasts authentic Mexican dishes, many featuring fresh seafood. Down the way is Seascape Golf Club.
One of Aptos’s greatest and most recent editions is Marianne’s Ice Cream. The longtime Santa Cruz institution finally branched out in 2014, opening a shop just above Seacliff State Beach. There are dozens of handcrafted flavors, including cardamom pistachio, Northern Oregon Blackberry, cotton candy, and horchata.