Aptos, California

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Sunset at Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California.
Sunset at Seacliff State Beach in Aptos, California.
Location in Santa Cruz County and the state of California
Location in Santa Cruz County and the state of California
Aptos is located in the United States
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 36°58′53″N 121°54′27″W / 36.98139°N 121.90750°W / 36.98139; -121.90750Coordinates: 36°58′53″N 121°54′27″W / 36.98139°N 121.90750°W / 36.98139; -121.90750
Country United States
State California
CountySanta Cruz
Rancho Aptos1833
 • CDP6.43 sq mi (16.66 km2)
 • Land6.43 sq mi (16.66 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)  0%
Elevation108 ft (33 m)
 • CDP6,220
 • Estimate 
 • Urban21,000
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP codes
95001, 95003
Area code831
FIPS code06-02378
GNIS feature IDs1657939, 2407750

Aptos is an unincorporated town in Santa Cruz County, California, United States. The town includes several small communities with a combined population of 24,402:[5]

For statistical purposes, the United States Census Bureau has defined Aptos as a census-designated place (CDP). The census definition of the area is limited in contrast to the local understanding of the area with the same name. The population of the CDP was 6,220 at the 2010 census.[3]

Aptos is bisected northwest-to-southeast by the State Route 1 freeway and includes the ZIP codes 95001 and 95003.


Aptos is located at 36°58′53″N 121°54′27″W / 36.98139°N 121.90750°W / 36.98139; -121.90750 (36.981500, -121.907432).[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 6.4 square miles (17 km2), all land. The southwestern geographical boundary is Monterey Bay, while the northeast boundary is the Santa Cruz Mountains.


The name Aptos is Ohlone, meaning "the people".[7] Aptos was traditionally inhabited by the Ohlone Awaswas people. The name is one of only three native words that have survived (in Hispanicized form) as place names in Santa Cruz County (the others are Soquel and Zayante).

The first European land exploration of Alta California, the Spanish Portolà expedition, passed through the area on its way north, camping at one of the creeks on October 16, 1769. The expedition diaries don't provide enough information to be sure which creek it was, but the direction of travel was northwest, parallel to the coast. Franciscan missionary Juan Crespi, traveling with the expedition, noted in his diary that, "We stopped on the bank of a small stream, which has about four varas of deep running water. It has on its banks a good growth of cottonwoods and alders; on account of the depth at which it runs it may be that it cannot be utilized to water some plains through which it runs."[8] Crespi diary translator Herbert Bolton speculated that the location was Soquel Creek, but it could have been Aptos Creek.

In 1833 the government of Mexico granted Rafael Castro the 6,656-acre (26.94 km2) Rancho Aptos. Initially Castro raised cattle for their hides, but after California became a state in 1850, Castro leased his land to Americans who built a wharf, general store, and lumber mill. The original town was located where Aptos Village Square is now. In 1853 a leather tannery was built, and the main building is a bed & breakfast inn.

Bayview Hotel, Aptos, California

In 1878 Augustia Castro, daughter of Rafael Castro, and her husband Jose Arano built the Victorian, Bayview Hotel in Aptos village. The hotel is a Santa Cruz County landmark. It is Santa Cruz county's oldest operating hotel. It has been a State Historic Monument since 1974 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1993.[9][10]

In the mid to late 1800s, a series of major epidemics hit the area. A particularly bad one occurred in the early winter of 1868. Cases of smallpox were reported among the poor of San Juan Bautista. Efforts were made to localize the rapidly spreading disease, such as, barricading the roads leading in and out of San Juan Bautista. These efforts failed however, and when cases appeared in Watsonville, Santa Cruz citizens attempted to again quarantine the disease by destroying the Aptos Bridge. These efforts again failed and only created a rift between the two cities. The death toll of the smallpox epidemic lead to the local press publishing of the latest remedies available for home use as well as methods to prevent the spread of smallpox and inoculations.[11][12]

By 1872, Claus Spreckels, the sugar millionaire, began buying the land from Castro. He built a hotel near the beach and a summer mansion and ranch with a racetrack for his horses. A large area was fenced and stocked with deer for hunting, and became known as "the Deer Park," home of today's Deer Park Center. With the coming of the railroad, the town moved to the other side of Aptos Creek.

From 1880 to 1920 redwood timber harvesting became the major industry, and Aptos became a boom town. The Loma Prieta Lumber Company logged all of what is now The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. The Valencia Mill logged everything to the east. Within 40 years the hills were bare, and apples became the next industry. The Hihn Apple Barn is a historic building from that era; in 2016, the building was in the processing of being relocated nearby to make way for a shopping complex.

On March 16–20, 1905, the Leonard Ranch near La Selva was the site of experiments with a new tandem-wing glider designed and built by John J. Montgomery. Hoisted aloft by hot-air balloon to considerable heights, over a series of test flights pilot Daniel J. Maloney was able to demonstrate the control and flight of the Montgomery glider design. These flights, with starting altitudes over 3,000 feet above the ground, were the first high-altitude flights in the world.[13] A marker was placed at this location in 2005 honoring the cenntenial of these accomplishments.[14]

After Spreckels' death, Seacliff Park and Rio Del Mar Country Club (today's Seacliff State Beach) were developed in the late 1920s. Rio Del Mar Country Club included a clubhouse, a grand hotel on the bluffs, a beach club, a polo field, and a golf course. The estuary was filled in (now Rio Beach Flats) and the SS Palo Alto cement ship was moored and converted into an amusement pier with restaurants, swimming pool, and a dance pavilion. Both Rio Del Mar and Seacliff were popular during Prohibition as drinking and gambling were discreetly available. These amusements were interrupted by the Great Depression and World War II.

In the early 1960s Aptos began a period of rapid development, including Cabrillo College, Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center, the Seascape Resort development, and many residential developments.


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[15]
Fourth of July Parade - "The World's Shortest Parade"[16]


The 2010 United States Census[17] reported that Aptos had a population of 6,220. The population density was 978.9 people per square mile (378.0/km²). The racial makeup of Aptos was 5,420 (87.1%) White, 58 (0.9%) African American, 43 (0.7%) Native American, 247 (4.0%) Asian, 8 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 175 (2.8%) from other races, and 269 (4.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 611 persons (9.8%).

The census reported that 98.7% of the population lived in households and 1.3% lived in non-institutionalized group quarters.

There were 2,549 households, out of which 686 (26.9%) had children under the age of 18 living, 1,353 (53.1%) were married couples living together, 192 (7.5%) had a female householder with no husband present, 95 (3.7%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 142 (5.6%) unmarried. 665 households (26.1%) were made up of individuals and 268 (10.5%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41. There were 1,640 families (64.3% of all households); the average family size was 2.86.

The population was spread out with 1,150 people (18.5%) under the age of 18, 436 people (7.0%) aged 18 to 24, 1,342 people (21.6%) aged 25 to 44, 2,189 people (35.2%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,103 people (17.7%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.8 males.[18]

There were 2,711 housing units at an average density of 426.7 per square mile (164.7/km²), of which 75.6% were owner-occupied and 24.4% were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.5%; the rental vacancy rate was 0.8%. 75.2% of the population lived in owner-occupied housing units and 23.5% lived in rental housing units.[18]


As of the census[19] of 2000, there were 9,396 people, 4,055 households, and 2,428 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 1,339.6 people per square mile (517.5/km²). There were 4,486 housing units at an average density of 639.6 per square mile (247.1/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 90.38% White, 0.56% African American, 0.65% Native American, 2.39% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 2.49% from other races, and 3.42% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.97% of the population.

There were 4,055 households out of which 25.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.1% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.1% were non-families. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.78.

In the CDP, the population was spread out with 19.3% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 29.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.0 males.[20]

The median income for a household in the CDP was $61,843, and the median income for a family was $73,515. Males had a median income of $51,848 versus $40,050 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $33,210. About 2.5% of families and 7.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.[18]


In the California State Legislature, Aptos is in the 17th Senate District, represented by Democrat Bill Monning, and in the 29th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Mark Stone.[21]

In the United States House of Representatives, Aptos is in California's 20th congressional district, represented by Democrat Jimmy Panetta.[22]

Parks and recreation[edit]

Seacliff State Beach and S.S. Palo Alto

Aptos is home to both the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park and Seacliff State Beach California state parks. Nisene Marks is popular with hikers and mountain bikers. The San Andreas Fault Zone passes nearby and the epicenter of the M6.9 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake lies within.[23]

Many Aptos beaches are popular spots for surfing and bodyboarding. Aptos is also a popular spot for Freeride biking and street skateboarding. Efforts have gone towards attempting to build a skate park in Aptos, however it appears likely at this point.

The beaches of Aptos are frequented by a small but dedicated group of surfers.[citation needed] Due to exclusively sand-bottom beaches, wave shape in Aptos is typically not as high quality as in neighboring Capitola and Santa Cruz.[citation needed] However, during the Autumn and Winter, local spots "Platforms" and "Beer Can" are frequently surfed.[citation needed]

Aptos is also home to the annual Fourth of July "World's Shortest Parade," so called because the parade route is about .6 miles long.[24]

Aptos Park is the site of the annual Aptos Blues Festival.[25] Several well-known performers have performed at the festival, B.B. King,[26] Buddy Guy,[26] John Lee Hooker,[26] Ray Charles,[26] Leon Russell,[26] Los Lobos,[26] Gregg Allman,[26] the Doobie Brothers,[26] Bonnie Raitt,[27] and Al Green.[27]

Educational institutions[edit]

Cabrillo College is a two-year community college in Aptos.[28]

Aptos has three public elementary schools: Valencia Elementary, Rio Del Mar Elementary, and Mar Vista Elementary.[29][citation needed] It also has one junior high school, Aptos Junior High School,[30] and one high school, Aptos High School.[31] Private schools include Santa Cruz Montessori School,[32] Orchard School,[33] and Twin Lakes Christian School.[34] Aptos Academy, a pre-school through eighth grade private school, closed in 2013.[35]

Sports teams[edit]

In 1983 the Aptos High Mariners varsity girls basketball team, coached by Dan Gruber, won the school's first CCS Team Championship.[citation needed] The Aptos High Mariners varsity boys basketball team reached the state finals in the spring of 1986 and the NorCal Championship in the spring of 1987.[citation needed] The Aptos High Mariners boys soccer team was nationally ranked and advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation - Central Coast Section (CCS) Division 1 finals.[citation needed] The Aptos girls soccer accomplished the same that year and advanced to the CCS Division 1 finals.[citation needed] The Aptos High Mariners football team won the 2003 CCS Div II title,[citation needed] its first football CCS title.[citation needed] The High School's winningest team, however, is the Aptos track and field team.[citation needed] The girls team has won the past twelve league championships,[citation needed] and the boys team has won eleven of the last twelve.[citation needed] The varsity cheer leading team also took home 2 State Championship trophies in the 90's[citation needed] and another one in 2010 as the varsity anchors.[citation needed]

The Aptos Little League baseball team made it to the Little League World Series in 2002, and was the subject of a documentary film on PBS, Small Ball: A Little League Story.[36]

In 2005 the Aptos High girls and boys cross country team won the CCS championship[citation needed] and the boys finished third at state championships[citation needed] while the girls were crowned state champions.[citation needed]

In 2007, the Aptos High boys' cross-country team won CCS,[37] and took third in state.[38] The girls' team took second in CCS.[39]

In 2007, the baseball team at Aptos High was nationally ranked and advanced to the CCS D2 finals losing out by a single home run.[citation needed] Team is coached by ex-MLB Pitcher and Head Coach Randall Kramer, ex-MLB World Series Pitcher Mark Eichhorn, and ex-MLB Scout Matt King.[citation needed] Between these three coaches there are four World Series rings.[citation needed]

In 2008, the boys' cross-country team won CCS for the second year in a row and took fifth at state.[citation needed] The girls' team was second at CCS and eighth in state.[citation needed]

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2016 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Jul 19, 2017.
  2. ^ "Aptos". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Aptos CDP QuickFacts". US Census Bureau. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  4. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Aptos Demographics". Aptos Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  7. ^ Gudde, Erwin; William Bright (2004). California Place Names (Fourth ed.). University of California Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-520-24217-3.
  8. ^ Bolton, Herbert E. (1927). Fray Juan Crespi: Missionary Explorer on the Pacific Coast, 1769-1774. HathiTrust Digital Library. p. 214. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  9. ^ Santa Cruz County History, Santa Cruz Public Library article by Ross Eric Gibson
  10. ^ Gibson, Ross Eric. "The Spirit of Aptos: 116-Year-Old Hotel to Become Landmark". Santa Cruz County History - Tourism. Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  11. ^ "The History of Aptos". Aptos History Museum. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  12. ^ Reader, Phil. "Voices of the Heart: Introduction". Santa Cruz County History - Disasters & Calamities. Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  13. ^ Harwood C.S., Fogel G.B. Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West University of Oklahoma Press, 2012.
  14. ^ "First High Altitude Aeroplane Flights March 1905 - Aptos, CA - E Clampus Vitus Historical Markers on". Waymarking.com. 2010-09-19. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  16. ^ Men, Calvin (July 4, 2017). "Aptos World's Shortest Parade offers slice of Americana, tradition". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  17. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Aptos CDP". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  18. ^ a b c Bureau, U.S. Census. "American FactFinder - Results". factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  19. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  20. ^ "Aptos, California Population: Census 2010 and 2000 Interactive Map, Demographics, Statistics, Quick Facts". censusviewer.com. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  21. ^ "Statewide Database 2011 Maps". statewidedatabase.org. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  22. ^ "California's 20th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
  23. ^ Stoffer, Phil (November 27, 2005), Chapter 4 - Forest of Nisene Marks State Park: Epicenter of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake (PDF), United States Geological Survey
  24. ^ "Aptos; World's Shortest 4th of July Parade". sf.funcheap.com. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  25. ^ "Capitola/Aptos - The APTOS Blues Festival". Portal.clubrunner.ca. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Santa Cruz Blues Festival changes its name, leadership and focus, but all else stays the same". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  27. ^ a b "What To Do in Aptos, California (CA)". Zerve. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  28. ^ "Cabrillo College". 2017-06-06. Archived from the original on 2017-06-06. Retrieved 2017-06-08.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  29. ^ "Valencia Elementary School". Pajaro Valley Unified School District. Retrieved 2017-01-24.
  30. ^ "Aptos Junior High School". 2016-10-19. Archived from the original on 2016-10-19. Retrieved 2017-06-08.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  31. ^ "Aptos High School: Home Page". www.aptoshs.net. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
  32. ^ "Santa Cruz Montessori". 2016-11-04. Archived from the original on 2016-11-04. Retrieved 2017-07-19.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  33. ^ "Orchard School". 2016-11-14. Archived from the original on 2016-11-14. Retrieved 2017-06-08.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  34. ^ "Twin Lakes Christian School". Retrieved 2017-07-19.
  35. ^ Shanna McCord (2013-06-13). "Aptos Academy closing its doors after 14 years". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2017-04-05.
  36. ^ "SMALL BALL: A Little League Story Synopsis". pbs.org. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  37. ^ "CIF-Central Coast Section" (PDF). CIF-Central Coast Section. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  38. ^ "California Interscholastic Federation" (PDF). www.cifstate.org. Retrieved 2018-01-17.
  39. ^ "CIF-Central Coast Section" (PDF). CIF-Central Coast Section. Retrieved 2018-01-17.

External links[edit]