Aptos

Aptos is a small coastal town in Santa Cruz County with a population of 6,372. Living in Aptos offers residents a quiet suburban atmosphere, as most own their homes. The town has many coffee shops and parks. Aptos attracts young professionals and has residents with moderate political views. The public schools are highly rated.


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Aerial view of downtown Aptos

Real Estate Statistics

Average Price $1.8M
Lowest Price $3.5K
Highest Price $12.5M
Total Listings 100
Avg. Price/SQFT $1K

Property Types (active listings)

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More about Aptos,CA

The historic coastal town of Aptos lies in the unincorporated Santa Cruz County area encompassing Rio Del Mar, Seacliff, and Seascape. Home to the quaint Aptos Village, Aptos also serves as the gateway to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. Within the park's 10,000 acres of regenerated redwood forest, hikers, runners, and mountain bikers enjoy 30 miles of trails passing old mill sites and trestles. Traces of the area's once-thriving railroad and logging past remain. To learn more about the history, from the native Ohlone Indians who named Aptos to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, visitors can explore the collection of artifacts and photographs at the Aptos History Museum.

The charming community of Aptos offers residents a relaxed way of life amid stunning natural beauty. Overlooking the sparkling Monterey Bay, this idyllic town boasts breezy beaches, rolling hills blanketed in redwood forests, and panoramic views, all just minutes from the downtown area. From the array of shops and restaurants to the many local attractions, Aptos provides a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of big city living. With its mild climate and proximity to Santa Cruz and Watsonville, this seaside gem has become a highly desirable place to call home.

Seacliff State Beach offers the perfect spot for a cookout or picnic, with barbecue grills and shaded tables along the sand. Stop by the visitor center to learn about Pacific wildlife migration patterns. A mile-long seaside paved path running parallel to the ocean passes fossils of extinct marine creatures embedded in the bluffs. At the end of the fishing pier sits "The Cement Ship," a local landmark. This experimental concrete tanker, the S.S. Palo Alto, was built during World War I and now elegantly leans to its starboard side from winter storms, serving as an artificial reef for marine life. "The Cement Ship" celebrated its 100th birthday in 2019, however the storms of 2022 have just about submerged the old ship.

Downtown Aptos Village, CA

Along the south side of the pier, Rio Del Mar State Beach provides an ideal spot for dog lovers and beach bonfires. Aptos also hosts a beloved Fourth of July tradition - the "World's Shortest Parade", where nearly every resident and their pet dresses in patriotic colors before marching to Aptos Village Park for live music and festivities. The heart of Aptos Village contains a vibrant new town center perfect for pedestrians to enjoy artisanal ice cream, local shops, specialty coffee, restaurants, and a charming park that add to the charm of this mid-county destination.

The bay is known for its rich marine life, especially during the peak migration seasons from mid-January to mid-March when you can often spot humpback whales, gray whales, and dolphins. There is also an increased chance of spotting killer whales in March, April, and May.

Aptos hosts several popular annual events and festivals throughout the year that attract both locals and visitors, such as the Aptos Farmers Market, Aptos 4th of July Parade, and Aptos Wine Wander.

Aptos has numerous lodging options such as hotels, vacation rentals, and campgrounds. Well-known places to stay are Seascape Beach Resort and Seacliff Inn Aptos.

History
For thousands of years before the Spanish completed Mission Santa Cruz in 1794, American Indians lived in the area now known as Aptos. The mission system ended the Native Americans' way of life. After Mexico gained independence, the mission lands were secularized and granted to local citizens involved in governing and developing the region. In 1833, the Mexican government awarded Rafael Castro the 6,686-acre Rancho Aptos, spanning from today's Seascape Boulevard to Borregas Drive near Cabrillo College. Castro initially raised cattle for hides, but after California became a state in 1850, he leased his land to Yankees for industrial uses. They built a wharf, general store, and lumber mill. The original town was located at today's Aptos Village Square, with Castro's original general store still standing.

Claus Spreckels, the sugar millionaire, began purchasing land from Castro and developing the area by 1872. He constructed a grand hotel near the beach, along with a private entrance road called Spreckels Drive. Further inland, Spreckels built a summer mansion and ranch complete with a racetrack for his horses near what is now Rio Del Mar Boulevard. He also fenced off a large tract of land that he stocked with deer for hunting purposes, dubbing it "The Deer Park." Additionally, Spreckels helped finance the 1876 opening of the Santa Cruz Railroad, whose original steam engine "Jupiter" now resides in the Smithsonian. With the railroad's arrival, the town relocated east of Aptos Creek to its current site. Nearby, Claus Mangels, Spreckels' brother-in-law, erected a mansion up present-day Aptos Creek Road, while Joseph Arano, Rafael Castro's son-in-law, built the Bayview Hotel.

From 1884 to 1924, logging Redwood timber became Aptos' major industry, transforming the town into a boomtown. The Loma Prieta Lumber Company clear-cut all of what is now Nisene Marks State Park, while the Valencia Mill did the same to the east. Valencia Hall served as the community hub of the Valencia Mill town. Within just 40 years, the surrounding hills were stripped bare. Apple orchards then became Aptos' next major industry, lasting until 1959.

After Spreckels' death in the 1920s, the areas of Seacliff Park and Rio Del Mar were developed. The Rio Del Mar Country Club was built and included a clubhouse, a grand hotel on the bluffs overlooking the ocean, a beach club for members, a polo field for playing polo, and an expansive golf course. The estuary was filled in during construction and Aptos Creek was rerouted and dammed to create a large freshwater swimming pool, complete with a bathing pavilion. The Seacliff developers also purchased an unused World War I concrete oil tanker and converted it into an amusement pier, which featured a restaurant, swimming pool, arcade games, and a dance hall. During the Prohibition era, Rio Del Mar and Seacliff were popular destinations where drinking and gambling could be found discreetly. However, the Great Depression and World War II eventually interrupted the prosperity of these amusement areas.

In the early 1960s, Aptos began a period of rapid development when Cabrillo College opened in a strategic location halfway between Watsonville and Santa Cruz. Soon after, Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center and the Seascape development followed, marking the start of Aptos' transformation.

Auto Area Schools
Aptos has three elementary schools, one junior high school, and one high school within the Pajaro Valley School District. To learn more about Aptos schools, visit the PVUSD website or call (831) 728-6200. Funding & Budget overview for 2032-2024. The Mission of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District is to educate and to support learners in reaching their highest potential. We prepare students to pursue successful futures and to make positive contributions to the community and the global society.

Aptos Area Restaurants 

Severino's Bar & Grill
Categories: American Restaurants, Bars, Foods, Lounges, Nightlife, Restaurants
7500 Old Dominion Ct., Aptos CA 95003

Sanderlings Restaurant
Categories: American Restaurants, Bars, Banquet Rooms, Breakfast/Cafe Restaurants, Cafes, California Cuisines, Corporate Event Planning, Event Planning, Foods, Nightlife, Restaurants, Weddings, Lodging
One Seascape Resort Drive, Aptos CA 95003

Aptos New Leaf Community Market
Categories: American Restaurants, Delis and Meats, Markets and Specialty Foods, Grocery Stores, Restaurants, Sandwich Shops
Aptos Village Way, Aptos CA 95003

Bittersweet Bistro Categories: American Restaurants, Bars, Breakfast/Cafe Restaurants, Cafes, Delis and Meats, Markets and Specialty Foods, Nightlife, Restaurants, Sports Bars, Live Music Venues
787 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Aptos CA 95003

Aptos St. BBQ Categories: American Restaurants, Barbeque, Nightlife, Restaurants, Live Music Venues
8059 Aptos St., Aptos CA 95003

Marianne's Ice Cream
Categories: American Restaurants, Markets and Specialty Foods, Ice Cream, Restaurants
218 State Park Drive, Aptos CA 95003

Sushi On The Run
Categories: Japanese Restaurants, Restaurants, Sushi
7959 Soquel Dr.Aptos CA 95003

Manuel's Mexican Restaurant
Categories: Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants
261 Center Avenue, Aptos CA 95003

Aptos Burger Company
Categories: Burger Joints, Restaurants
106 Rancho Del Mar, Aptos CA 95003

Persephone Restaurant
Categories: American Restaurants, Restaurants
7945 Soquel Dr., Aptos CA 95003

Cafe Rio
Categories: Restaurants, Seafood Restaurants, Steak Restaurants
131 Esplanade, Aptos CA 95003

Cafe Sparrow
Categories: French Restaurants, Restaurants
8042 Soquel Dr., Aptos CA 95003

Sid's Smokehouse & Grill
Categories: Barbeque, Burger Joints, Pizza Restaurants, Restaurants
10110 Soquel Dr., Aptos CA 95003

Pizza One
Categories: Pizza Restaurants, Restaurants
253 Center Ave., Aptos CA 95003

Taqueria Los Gordos
Categories: Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants, Burrito Places
7488 Soquel Dr., Aptos CA 95003

Sofia's Taqueria
Categories: Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants
140 Rancho del Mar, Aptos CA 95003

Palapas Restaurant & Cantina
Categories: Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants
21 Seascape Village, Aptos CA 95003

Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine
Categories: Mediterranean Restaurants, Restaurants
7528 Soquel Dr., Aptos CA 95003

GG Restaurant and Bar
Categories: Bars, Italian Restaurants, Nightlife, Restaurants, Cocktail Bars
8041 Soquel Drive, Aptos CA 95003

Ambrosia India Bistro
Categories: Indian/Pakistani Restaurants, Restaurants
207 Sea Ridge Rd., Aptos CA 95003

Burger
Categories: American Restaurants, Burger Joints, Foods, Restaurants
7941 Soquel Drive, Aptos CA 95003

Lucky Dragon
Categories: Chinese Restaurants, Restaurants, Asian Restaurants
9071 Soquel Dr., Aptos CA 95003

Bangkok West Thai Cuisine
Categories: Restaurants, Thai Restaurants
2505 Cabrillo College Dr., Aptos CA 95073

Robin's Cake Creations
Categories: Bakeries, Markets and Specialty Foods, Restaurants
1528 Wilshire Dr., Aptos CA 95003

Erik's DeliCafé
Categories: American Restaurants, Restaurants
102 Rancho del Mar, Aptos CA 95003

Panda Inn
Categories: Restaurants, Asian Restaurants
783 Rio del Mar Blvd, #5, Aptos CA 95003

Taqueria Los Gordos
Categories: Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants
Heather Ter., Aptos CA 95003

Uncle Kwok's
Categories: Chinese Restaurants, Restaurants
101-199 Aptos Wharf Rd., Aptos CA 95003

Hong Kong Garden
Categories: Chinese Restaurants, Restaurants, Asian Restaurants
14 Seascape Vlg, Aptos CA 95003

Rio Del Mar Mexican Cuisine
Categories: Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants
9067 Soquel Dr., Aptos CA 95003

Sno-white Drive-in
Categories: Burger Joints, Restaurants
223 State Park Dr., Aptos CA 95003

Little Owl Italian Kitchen
Categories: Bars, Italian Restaurants, Nightlife, Pizza Restaurants, Restaurants
8017 Soquel Dr., Aptos CA 95003

KFC
Categories: Restaurants, Fried Chicken Restaurants
150 Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center, Aptos CA 95003

Pino Alto Restaurant
Categories: American Restaurants, Restaurants, Dessert
6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos CA 95002

Taco Bell
Categories: Fast Food, Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants
7887 Soquel Dr., Aptos CA 95003

Au Midi
Categories: French Restaurants, Restaurants
7960 Soquel Dr., Aptos CA 95003

Village Host Pizza & Grill
Categories: Pizza Restaurants, Restaurants
4 Seascape Village, Aptos CA 95003

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