Capitola Village Articles
The Kid's Caper
My wife and I had been to Capitola Village for romantic getawaysmany times,
but this time we prepared for an adventure called “bringing the kids.” Pack
the fishing poles and the ice chest and rent lodgings walking distance to the
beach from Vacations by the Sea, Beach House Rentals, or even an historic Venetian
Court condo right on the beach!
Photo: Magic's show on Capitola Beach
With sudden curiosity about this place they only knew as the place where their parents disappeared from time-to-time, the kids got on the Internet and shouted questions downstairs like, “Dad, did you guys go surfing?” and “Mom, can I buy a kite?” This was going to be fun. In a week designed to replenish two overworked, fat adults, this caper also needed to please a gaggle of our children and their friends.
Where else but Capitola would have it all? So off we went loaded with more electronic equipment than most chain stores and a quiet bet between the grown-ups about how successfully Capitola could entice our offspring away from the TV.
First stop: LUNCH FOR EIGHT. We dumped the bags in our cute rental and headed down to the Esplanade row of restaurants with kids racing ahead of us. We stopped in front of
Cafe Violette, a great spot for a quick bite and some ice cream, but the kids were too excited to even order. “OK”, I challenged them, “Mom and I will wait here with a cup of coffee. You look inside all the restaurants in this block, come back, and we'll take a vote.” A blissful ten minutes of quiet followed, a few moments to study the free Village Map (available from any merchant, we learned).
As our troops re-convened outside, I overheard important discussion items like “hamburgers”, “pizza”, “milk shakes”, “spaghetti”. It was tougher for them than we anticipated, but they finally agreed on take-out pizza from Pizza My Heart to be consumed on the beach. Thus their first foray to the edge of the Pacific began with a family staple and comfort food. After settling a brief dispute about who was going to collect the returned-pizza-box deposit that environmentally-conscious Pizza My Heart offers, we sent them off with a Village map in search of the perfect dessert.
We circled likely names on the map like Souza's Ice Cream, Carousel Taffy, Cafe Violette, and the Chocolate Bar. Anybody under 13 had to stay with a teenager (“Argh, Dad, you're sooo old fashioned,” they grumbled), but it was the 10-year-old who ended up leading th pack with his great sense of direction (takes after me). The only other rules: No borrowing from the others to exceed your personal budget, eat only two bites before you get back to us on the beach, and no fair taking bites from the younger ones. They surprised us by bringing back an unrequested, festive, yummy piece of taffy for each of us! They really are great kids.
Devious duo that we are, my wife and I had prepared from our Internet research a little treasure hunt for two teams of three. We showed them where we would be waiting at Capitola Coffee Roasters (or maybe right next door at Armida Winery, my wine-loving wife added) and sent them off with the follwing mission.
Clues (with cheat-sheet answers only for parents):
-- By the sea, the beautiful sea, search out a shop and not the sand for a perfect sea shell.
Answer: Capitola Sea Shells
-- Where can the whole family watch the clock and beat Global Warming with cool hats?
Answer: Oasis Hats and Watches
-- Where can you get your own bear hug dressed just the way you want?
Answer: Beach Bear Company
-- Find the best store to have a new outfit for picky, picky Aunt Jenna's new baby.
Answer: European Children's Clothing
-- Where oh where could even stodgy old dads get a cool new look with sunglasses?
Answer: Sunglass Hut International
-- Find a shop that Mindy [our poodle] would like if she comes with us next time.
Answer: That's My Dog
-- Uncle Ben travels the world, but one Capitola shop could rival his international treasures.
Answer: Buck's Worlds
-- What's a vacation without a few groceries on the fly? What's the closest store?
Answer: Quality Market
-- Your mother is my gem, but where could I find her something special for her hand?
Answers: Ph Diamonds
We're easy graders, so we gave credit for lots of other answers. They found all these correct answers for the last one alone: The Craft Gallery, Super Silver, Latta, Flying Lizard Design, CapitolaReef and Script Craft, Avalon Visions, Oceania, Bella Donna, Nazar. The 10-year-old reasoned that a manicure from Nails on the Beach should count, too.
Of course, everyone was a winner in the treasure hunt. The prize was a full day of a water sport of their choice, so the next morning I hit Surf n Shack and Surf/Beach Rental with the crew while my wife slept in. First on our list was boogie boarding and body surfing. For some reason that my wife understood and I didn't, the teenage girls needed new bathing suits before they could try surfing. Just in time for lunch, my wife made her own purchase and herded the girls out of the dressing rooms of Capitola Dreams Swimwear and Nubia's Swimwear with their fabulous new outfits just as I was hauling the boys out of the water.
Even though there's a lifeguard on duty in Capitola, from under our beach umbrella my wife and I kept an eye on the water babies that afternoon with glances away from our novels, only moving a few feet away to buy a Marguerita on Zelda's deck. “Perfect,” she whispered.
The next few days were a happy jumble of boats rented from Capitola Boat & Bait, fishing off the wharf, flying kites, and even a private surf lesson for the whole family from Club Ed instructors (who arrived after reservations for protective dads like me looking for the calmer waters of Capitola). We never drove our car the whole vacation... and by the way... I won the bet with my wife because our kids never turned on the TV. I won't say what my prize was.