Within a short distance of Sand Rock Farm you will find a variety of restaurants, many featuring local, organic ingredients and fresh, local seafood. Click on the links below to view our favorites ~
Gayle's Bakery and Rosticceria is the uber-popular bakery featuring delicious breads, pastries, coffee, sandwiches and complete meals and catering trays to go. Take a number and enjoy the wait... the entire place is eye candy!
Recently remodeled and located near the Hook in Capitola, Verve Coffee Roasters is a great place to enjoy great coffee.
Although there are several good sushi bars in the area, Geisha Sustainable Sushi gets our vote for their awesome, sustainable sushi and creative rolls. Try Tom Drops By, the Fish Taco Roll, Dammit, Janet!, and the Izzy Bizzy.
Cafe Sparrow is a charming, French country bistro in Old Aptos. Everything is delicious, but be sure to work out first... they don't skimp on butter and cream!
Casual and fun, Aptos St. BBQ features indoor or outdoor seating and live music nightly. They have great options for take-out and, if you eat in, a nice variety of beer on tap.
The Hideout is a great little American bistro featuring great cocktails and dining under the trees on the deck.
Make reservations or arrive early to eat at Manuel's Mexican Restaurant. This adorable place just celebrated its 50th birthday and is bursting at the seams with patrons (and Patron). Don't fill up too much on chips and chow, because Marianne's Ice Cream is right across the street. Take a number when you arrive if you have already decided from among the 105 flavors (the 1020, fudge brownie, and cardamon-pistachio are the bomb!).
Ambrosia India Bistro is located in an interesting building on State Park Drive in Aptos. The classic Indian fare is consistently delicious.
If you are still eating gluten, Lillian's Kitchen is a local favorite featuring classic Italian dishes.
Even if you have gone gluten-free, you will need to make an exception for a slice of pizza at Pizza My Heart. Friendly, efficient service and damn tasty pizza at the beach (or other locations) along with fresh salads and cheap t-shirts make this a local and tourist favorite. If you do eat your pizza on the beach in Capitola, guard it with your life! The seagulls are known to swoop in and make off with the entire slice!
Au Midi serves classic French fare from their strip-mall location and gets five stars on Yelp! Probably not the best place for kids, but great for a romantic night out.
Breakfast burritos, tacos, burritos and fresh juices are available at Taqueria Los Gordos. Very casual and great for take-out to the beach.
Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine is a healthy choice, if you are into that kind of thing. There are now two nearby locations - one in Aptos and another in Capitola.
Another weird location serves up some of the most delicious food in Santa Cruz. Cafe Cruz is just off of Highway 1 on 41st street, right in front of Granny Purp's Dispensary. Their rotisserie chicken, calamari and huge dinner salads are the best. The courtyard is super charming.
Persephone Restaurant is new in town but racking up 5-star ratings on Yelp.
When you want to hang out at Sand Rock Farm instead of going out, you can get online and order Chinese food from Golden Buddha. The foo yung, the orange chicken, the chow fun are our faves. Be sure to tell them to deliver to the big house on the left.
Star of Siam Thai Cuisine in Soquel serves delicious Thai food. The pumpkin curry, pad thai and tom yum are yum, yum, yum!
You need much more than three perfect days to spend in Aptos! But, if time is short, you can choose from the long list of activities and sights nearby. The closer to the top of the list, the closer the options are to Sand Rock Farm.
Where's the beach?! Right here! If you like amenities at your beach, Capitola is a good choice since there are restaurants, bars, bathrooms and showers and you can park right at the beach. If you are into privacy, Sunset and Manresa might be more your style.
The Forest of Nisene Marks California State Park is perfect for hiking, biking or just meandering through the amazing California Redwoods. The parking fee is $8 per vehicle and pets must be leashed. The entry to the park is about five miles from Sand Rock Farm. Pack a lunch and enjoy it by the creek, visit the epicenter of the 1989 earthquake, located 6 miles inside the park, and don't forget to kiss a banana slug!
Do not miss a visit to Capitola by the Sea, a charming coastal village (just named "most walkable beach by Elle Decor Magazine) with a great beach, beach and surf rentals, surf lessons, SUP lessons and rentals, plenty of bars, restaurants, shopping, live music and events such as the annual Wharf to Wharf Race, the Begonia Festival, the Plein Air Events, Art and Wine, concerts and movies at the beach, and much more. Strolling along the coast just above Capitola you will get amazing views of the Monterey Bay and can check out the adorable Depot Hill neighborhood filled with historical homes. Heading north along the coast from the pier, you can walk along East Cliff Drive, past Jack O'Neill's house (he invented the wetsuit and his son, Pat, invented the surf leash) and watch world-class surfing at famous surf breaks such as the Hook and Pleasure Point. Check out the surf conditions at all of the local breaks. Ready to dive in? You will find all your surf supplies at either O'Neill Surf Shop , Ripcurl, or Freeline. Pleasure Pizza, Zameen, the Cliff Cafe, Verve, the Penny Creamery, the Point, Kaito Sushi, Suda and several other restaurants are located near the Portola/41st intersection. Santa Cruz is also known for skateboarding and the Santa Cruz Boardroom is the place to pick up a screaming hand tee-shirt, a new deck, or just some cool stickers.
Soquel is the little town next to Aptos that has great antique stores, a variety of restaurants. Anna Jean Cummings Park, (aka "Blue Ball Park" because of the giant blue ball art installation) is a good place to visit with pets and kids.
Venturing just 9 miles north from Aptos is Santa Cruz proper, world-class surf town, home of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Santa Cruz Wharf, Pacific Avenue, UC Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Warriors, and so much more! Check out the visitor's center site for more details, history, and upcoming events.
Drive north beyond Santa Cruz to explore the rugged California coastline all the way up to San Francisco. Stop along the way to pick berries at Swanton Berry Farm, explore the historic sites, mountain bike trails, coastal hiking trails and beaches at Wilder Ranch State Park, enjoy coffee and lunch in Davenport, and check out the Slowcoast pop-up trailer for locally-made art, food and books.
San Francisco and its myriad opportunities for exploring is just 87 miles away via Highway 1.
Heading south from Aptos you quickly enter Monterey County and abundant opportunities to eat, play and explore. Safari Tours of Elhorn Slough leave from Moss Landing and among the sights to see are otters, seals, sea lions and hundreds of species of birds. For a closer-up tour of the slough, try the Kayak Connection. Paddle board and kayak rentals and tours are available. Good grub is available at the Whole Enchilada or Phil's Fish Market.
Continuing south toward Monterey, you will pass the towns of Marina, Seaside and Sand City and Castroville. You can bike all the way from Castroville to Monterey along the beautiful Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail or just drive and try to squeeze in a full day at the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row and Old Fisherman's Wharf. Read up John Stein Steinbeck's classic tales about the area prior to visiting. Hungry? Check out Yelp's top-rated restaurants in Monterey to grab a bite. For much, much more on things to do in Monterey County, click here.
Carmel by the Sea is a swanky coastal town full of boutique shopping, eateries, multi-million dollar cottages and homes, 17-mile drive, world-class golfing and more. The former mayor, Clint Eastwood, owns the beautiful, historic Carmel Mission Ranch, a great place to grab a cocktail and watch the sunset over a gorgeous meadow full of sheep. The Point Lobos natural reserve is considered by some to be the "crown jewel" of the California State Parks system and features amazing views of the coastline and bay, and abundant opportunities for beach combing and wildlife viewing.
Big Sur is a bucket-list destination full of jaw-dropping scenery. Get lost on a beach, on a coastal trail, beneath the redwoods and take in the rugged natural beauty abundant in this area. For a slice of serenity, slow down at Nepenthe and listen to the wind chimes and crashing waves as you enjoy the breathtaking view from the cliff above the Pacific.
Trip out and take a trip back in time at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon. Plan ahead, choose your tour and enjoy the obscene yet interesting display of wealth at this amazing, historic estate. Skip their cafe options and instead cross Highway