Aptos is a charming little town south of Santa Cruz, but don’t let its size deceive you – it’s absolutely packed with things to do. Beyond the beautiful beaches and natural scenery, Aptos contains the massive Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, the only community college in all of Santa Cruz County, a fantastic farmers market, and plenty of great events throughout the year. Though the area has recently been developed, the homes still have a cozy, small coastal town vibe that perfectly complements the community, and the natural beauty is stunning.



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S.S. Palo Alto aka the Cement Ship

The S.S. Palo Alto is the most famous concrete ship on the west coast. This World War I era tanker was docked in the San Francisco Bay for a decade before it was moved to the Seacliff State Beach to be transformed into an amusement park. The ship had an arcade, dining room, dance hall, and swimming pool which residents could access by a long pier. Shortly after, the Great Depression and a vicious storm ravaged the ship, leaving it cracked in the ocean. Beachgoers can still see the ship today. Though the pier no longer connects to it, birds have made a safe haven out of the ship.

Cabrillo College

The only community college in Santa Cruz County, Cabrillo College is a prime spot to achieve higher education. Here, locals and commuters can earn associate degrees and certificates in many fields of study. Beyond providing high-quality education, Cabrillo sports a beautiful campus that overlooks Monterey Bay, and it sends more transfer students to UC Santa Cruz than any other college in the state.

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Aptos Farmer’s Market

Way back in 1976, a few farmers began gathering their products to sell directly to the Aptos community. In the decades that followed, this tradition has blossomed into one of the largest farmer’s markets in Santa Cruz County. You can catch the Aptos Farmer’s Market every Sunday at Cabrillo College. With over 90 vendors, you can expect to complete a full grocery trip here, picking up items like artisanal bread, pastries, fresh produce, grass-fed meats, seafood, handcrafted cheeses, fresh pasta, and much more.

Aptos History Museum

If you want to get to know the community a bit better, a trip to the Aptos History Museum is in store. Through a series of exhibits, the museum tells the fascinating story of Aptos’ history, such as the story behind the concrete ship at Seacliff Beach. Many of the exhibits feature local artwork, photographs, and artifacts that can’t be found anywhere else.

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Forest of Nisene Marks

With over 30 miles of trails and roads and 10,000 acres of redwoods and oak groves, the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is a premier sightseeing and biking destination. Ambitious hikers can locate the two waterfalls within the state park (Maple Falls and Five Finger Falls) or just explore beautiful California nature while bikers can enjoy top-notch mountain biking trails. The State Park is still regenerating from a logging frenzy that occurred between 1883 to 1923, but every year it grows thicker and healthier.




Seacliff State Beach

Right at the foot of rolling sandstone cliffs, Seacliff State Beach is a two-mile stretch of coast that offers day parking, camping, swimming, fishing, and bicycling. It’s an ideal spot for sunbathing or taking a morning walk on the sand, and it has plenty of shaded areas that are perfect for parties and oceanfront picnics. The most popular feature of Seacliff State Beach is the rotting concrete ship that sits at the end of its pier: the SS Palo Alto, discussed above.

Rio Del Mar State Beach

Just south from Seacliff is the beautiful sandy shoreline of Rio Del Mar State Beach. This is a great spot to unwind after work, and it’s filled with things to do like stand up paddle boarding, bird watching, volleyball, surfing, and fishing. If you want to spot some marine life, beachgoers can often see whales, dolphins, and sea lions from the shore. Rio Del Mar is also one of the only dog beaches in the area so you can walk your dog here, as long as it’s leashed.

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Rio Del Mar Elementary - K-6th grade

Valencia Elementary School K-6th grade

Mar Vista Elementary K-6th grade

Aptos Junior High School 7th-8th grade

Aptos High School 9th-12th grade

Cabrillo College (community college)


Santa Cruz Montessori Preschool-8th grade (private)

Delta Charter School 9th-12th grade (charter school)

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