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Aptos & Rio Del Mar

 

Monterey Bay, the majesty of the redwoods, the antiquity of historic Aptos Village and the opulence of Rio Del Mar's Beach Drive create a unique and desirable setting for those living in upscale Aptos.

 

Location & Flavor

Aptos is an unincorporated area located in the heart of Santa Cruz county that consists of several small communities, including the exclusive

Rio del Mar. The greater part of Aptos extends into the foothills overlooking Monterey Bay, while the community of Rio Del Mar is located on the ocean side of Pacific Highway and extends to the beach.

The Aptos community of Rio del Mar ("River to the Sea") includes circa 1920s mansions and other lofty beachfront homes on Cypress appointed streets. Those desiring more space can choose a Rio del Mar hillside homes with ocean views and picturesque horse pastures.

Unlike many of the other Santa Cruz County communities, such as Capitola, Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz, Aptos is a more sedate area with homes occupied by the older generation outnumbering homes with children by about 4 to 1.

 

 

Famous landmarks in Aptos include the Hotel Bay View, which during the Victorian era played host to Hawaii's last king, David Kalakaua, also known as "The Merry Monarch" for his love of the arts. Aptos likely attracted King Kalakaua with its beautiful architecture, opulence and its own love of the arts.

 

Activities & Attractions

In keeping with its rich cultural heritage, Aptos hosts a plethora of cultural events such as the annual Blues Festival.

Residents here also enjoy a rich variety of outdoor recreational activities. Nisene Marks State Park offers 30 miles of lush trails with views of both the ocean and the hillside pastoral landscape of horse ranches, wineries and orchards.

Seacliff State Beach, a long stretch of sand and bluffs has easily accessible amenities including picnic areas, an interpretive center, and RV camping. Swimming and surfing are popular activities here, but the beach is best known for its fossils of extinct marine creatures in the bluffs and its fishing pier, the site of one of the most unusual and famous landmarks in the Santa Cruz area: the "Cement Ship."

 

 

The "Cement Ship," the USS Palo Alto rests at the end of the Seacliff State Beach's fishing pier. A curiosity because it was one of only three cement ships built during World War I. In the "Roaring 20s" a plan was developed to turn the ship and the pier into an amusement park. Before the Depression hit in 1930, the Cal-Nevada Company had constructed on the ship a dance floor, eatery, heated swimming pool, and a series of carnival type concessions. The Depression hit, the Cal-Nevada Company went bankrupt, and the ship was stripped, leaving the pier and ship to anglers and curious sightseers.

 

Historical Tidbits

In addition to the "Cement Ship," the history of Aptos includes many interesting facts. The name itself "meeting of two creeks" was given by the indigenous people, the Ohlone, for the confluence of the Aptos and Valencia creeks. Fast forwarding to about 20 years after California became a state, sugar tycoon Claus Spreckels developed the area with a beach side hotel, horse racetrack and summer mansion. In the 1920s, Rio Del Mar Country Club was built, which included a clubhouse, a grand hotel, polo field, and the Rio Del Mar golf course that is today a championship golf center.

In the early 1960s rapid development of Aptos began with Cabrillo College, Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center, and many residential developments. Today, Aptos offers three beautiful shopping centers, as well as the quaint Aptos Village that serves those seeking upscale, trendy boutiques and delicious cuisine.