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The coastal community of Rio Del Mar can be found along the eastern edge of Soquel Cove, in the northern part of Monterey Bay. It is just a short drive from downtown Santa Cruz, and includes the waterfront and hillside housing developments of the city of Aptos. Rio Del Mar is one of the area’s most serene shore-side destinations, and a must-visit for anyone touring the California central coast.

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As a low-key village, many of Rio Del Mar’s lodging options can be found in the nearby cities of Aptos and Capitola. However, two good local options are the Rio Sands Hotel and the Seascape Resort, both of which are within walking distance to spectacular beaches. If staying at the Rio Sands, try the casual Cafe Rio or even more casual Pixie Deli.

If staying at the Seascape Resort, you will want to try Sanderling’s Restaurant, which is located in the resort. Also consider the nearby Palapas Restaurant & Cantina located in the Seascape Village Shopping Center. All of these dining options are close to the beach, making it easy to walk straight to the shore after enjoying your meal (or vice versa).

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With smooth sand and a clear view of the sea wherever you look, Rio Del Mar’s picturesque beaches are idyllic places for outdoor fun and relaxation. Rio Del Mar State Beach is long and family-friendly with numerous picnic tables, free parking, and a laid back atmosphere. Seacliff State Beach is just a 10 minute walk to the north via a bridge over Aptos Creek, or you can drive to the park entrance in about the same amount of time (fee for parking). At the end of the Seacliff Pier you will find the ruins of the SS Palo Alto, a huge concrete ship that rests as a historic landmark, and a favorite perching spot for the local seagulls and pelicans.

Pelican Over The Beach

At Rio Del Mar’s southern end, Seascape Park offers lovely views of the water from lush hilltops. Families will also find plenty to do here, thanks to the presence of a picnic area, playground, restrooms, and benches artfully carved with images of the resident wildlife. To get down to the beach, look for the well-graded paved trail that leads from the resort north of the park.

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If it’s open beaches, clear skies, and breathtaking sunsets you’re in need of, look no further than Rio Del Mar!