Behind the Scenes of the Brennan Sisters: Capitola

Capitola, California is a little beach community ten miles south of Santa Cruz.  I first visited Capitola in my late twenties when I was a teacher in Fresno at St. Helen’s, and dating a musician whose family owned a beach house in the heart of Capitola, just a stone’s throw from the beach.  We visited the beach house a number of times, and I never loved Capitola more than when his big family was together (his family was Italian and full of brothers, not sisters!) and everyone crowded into the kitchen, or spilled out onto the porch.  I love families, particularly big families that are passionate and spirited and full of love, and opinons, and I love the way brothers and sisters interact—the teasing, the laughing, the arguing.   It might be too lively for others, but its comfortable for me.  Its what life and love feels like to me.

Back in October, my wonderful surfer husband went to Capitola with me and I showed him all my favorite spots, as well as the places that show up in The Good Woman, and then again in The Good Daughter.  We spent over an hour hanging out at Mr. Toot’s, having coffee, looking at books, taking pictures of ourselves.  It was goofy and fun and a perfect way to spend a rainy, foggy day.  I then dragged him on my mini-tour (here’s Margaritaville!  Here’s Pizza My Heart!  Here’s Paradise Beach Grille!  Here’s the house the Brennans “own”…and the beach they walk on…)

I’m sharing a few pics of my Capitola with you.  Get to know this little beach town because Kit returns there in The Good Daughter and meets one of my favorite characters ever…


Capitola’s Colorful Venetian Court, built in 1924 is today listed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the first condominium seaside developments in California
The sign for Mr. Toots Coffee which is the Brennan sisters favorite hang out and cafe in Capitola.
Coffee at Mr. Toot’s with Ty
Mr. Toot’s is a great place to read a book on a foggy day.
I’ve set the Brennans beach house here, as one of the historic Six Sisters houses facing Esplande and the famous Capitola beach. The six houses, designed by architect Edward Van Cleeck, were built at the turn of the 20th Century, and were owned by Capitola developer Frederick Hihn and his heirs until 1919 when H. Allen Rispin purchased the entire development of Capitola.

Do you have a favorite beach town?  Or, a favorite scene in The Good Woman?  Tell me about one of them and you could be entered to win one of two cool Capitola prizes, featuring a GREAT glazed mug from Mr. Toot’s (you can see one of the mugs in the photo above where I’m sipping coffee and reading a book.  I bought three, and am keeping one, and the other 2 are for you!), a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card, chocolate, coffee, fun reads by some of my favorite authors, and lots more great goodies tucked in my brand new I Read Jane silver totebag.  The contest runs through Sunday night and I’ll announce the two winners Monday morning.  So, talk to me, and hopefully you will win!


  1. Capitola sounds wonderful! Since I’m from Houston, we went to Galvestion Island a lot. It’s not beautiful but it’s what we have. I’ve also been to Destin, Fl with my family when I was in junior high. It was wonderful! I’m also a Twilight fan and my family and I went to La Push and visited First Beach. It was cold so I wouldn’t say it was my favorite. 🙂

  2. We live in the interior of the country… beaches are usually a ‘spring break’ thing… We’ve enjoyed Coco Beach, FL and Daluphin Island Beach, Al.. I love the photos you posted of Capitola! It looks like a lovely place!!

  3. I have several favorite beach towns..One that I love is Florence, Oregon for the dunes and rhodies..the ocean is beautiful and there are so many wonderful shops. You look so happy, Jane. Good to see that you are doing well down there. 🙂

  4. Mendicino, CA. Where we spent out ‘almost honeymoon’, as we tried to work out my USA visa issues. A totally romantic destination and fabulous dinner at Cafe Beaujolais. Reminding us that we should go back in 2015 for our 20 year anniversary – and Uncle Sam thought it was a sham 🙂

  5. I’ve really been missing the beach lately as we moved from the Capitola area 8 years ago. I’ve seen and been to all the places you’ve mentioned and can’t wait to read this new series of yours.

  6. Hey Jane, Im a southern Cali girl so to pick just one beach is really hard. My normal stomping ground all time favorite is probably Zuma 10. Up the coast, maybe Santa Barbara or Pismo Beach.
    In reality, anywhere I can feel the warm sand between my toes and hear the waves crash on the beach is the place to be for me!

  7. It’s the Jersey Shore for me, natch. I grew up going down the shore to Ocean Grove which features beautiful Victorian houses and a large wooden auditorium (sans air con)that hosts wonderful acts & choirs all summer long. It’s also one of the northern spots of the shore so most easily accessible off the GSP (parkway) and thus less drive time. The primarily self contained town was the family spot where we’d fly kites on the strip of lawn and body surf in the ocean before heading down the boardwalk and through the arch to Asbury Park for funnel cake.

    As a teenager, my church youth group regularly went further down the Garden State to hit Island Beach State Park for day trips and Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island for a week every summer. Some of my best & most poignant memories happened on my beloved, and now ravaged, Jersey Shore.

  8. I love the colorful cottages. They are beautiful. I’m not sure if this is considered a beach town, but my husband and I go to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida every year. We are actually going Dec 7 (next week). That’s where he proposed to me, we spent our honeymoon (we even stayed in the same hotel room that he proposed in) and go every year just the two of us. It holds 13 yrs of memories for the two of us.

  9. I love learning about the inspiration/behind the scenes of settings for novels. Thanks for sharing this with us! Living in San Diego, I am lukcy to have several nice beaches to hang out at. Outside of San Diego though, I love Hawaiian beaches with their much warmer water than here in So. Cal.

  10. Living in Hawaii gives me a lot of choices….but, I will have to say Kailua/Lanikai has to be my favorite. Something about traveling through those tunnels to the windward side of the island transports me, making me feel like I’ve entered another world! Happy Holidays Jane!!!

  11. Myrtle Beach is my favorite one. It is also the only beach I have been too. lol I loved going and would love to go again.

  12. I’d have to say Edisto Beach, South Carolina. We spent many years going to the beach every summer, watching my kids grow up and spending time with the extended family. The beach is probably my favorite place to be!!

  13. Growing up my family would sometime rent a house on Balboa Island. I have great memories of roaming the island eating Balboa Bars and riding the ferry. I love that you posted these pictures. It will be so enjoyable to actually picture the town

  14. Growing up in Southern California,there are a lot of
    beach towns that are great. Favorite? Laguna Beach. Up until I was able to drive myself my parents would get us up at 4:00AM on Sunday mornings, during the summer, so that we could get to Divers Cove and get the best picnic area there. We would have have breakfast, lunch and dinner there. Great memories.

  15. I have only been to one beach ever : so my vote goes to Virginia Beach! I went there with my family when I was 12 and I still remember how beautiful it is! Hope to get my daughter to a beach in the next year : she’s never been. Thanks for sharing your pics…

  16. I’m with Debbie! Lanikai is my new favorite beach! We found it last time we were in Hawaii and I couldn’t get enough. But my longtime all time favorite beach is Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo, CA where I went to college.

  17. Cannon Beach Oregon is wonderful. I have fond memories of my family going there right after we adopted our youngest son.

  18. Cape San Blas by St Joseph Bay in Florida with the beautiful sugar white sand and the majestic lighthouse.Or the St George Lighthouse walkway at sunset. Now how will I get any work done today my mind is wandering around the coast of Florida?

  19. I know I would love all the California beach towns – I’d like to drive down that coast one day and visit many of them.
    Since I live farther north, Washington state, my favorite beach town is Cannon Beach, OR. Every summer six of my long-time friends and I rent out a beach house and have a grand time! I love Haystack Rock and all the fun little shops and restaurants. It’s a perfect girls’ getaway destination.

  20. My favorite beach town in Galveston, Texas. I loved seeing the pictures from Capitola. it really does look like a charming little town.

  21. Hi Jane, loved the pictures ! My favorite beach in California is La Jolla, I love the small town and different beach areas, in Hawaii it’s Hapuna Beach and Washington State Gig Harbor for all it’s beautiful water areas. When I lived there , it was the closest to a beach I could get to, even though the water was so cold .

  22. Hi Jane – I love seeing the pictures of Capitola, I’ve never been there. I love the bay area and consider UC Santa Cruz for college.

    There is something special about beach towns, I can’t pick just one. Our usual beach haunts these days are on the Washington or Oregon coasts. I love Newport in Oregon, and all the small towns up and down the coast – from Astoria in the north, to Cannon Beach, Florence, Manzanita, and Bandon and Brookings in the south. In Hawaii, I’ve fallen in love with Hapuna, on the Kohala coast of the Big Island – I know that’s a beach, not a town, but I could sit there all day. And the California town that always calls to me is Coronado, near San Diego.

    My favorite scenes are just the many times the family goes to pizza and hangs at the beach for dinner. It’s such a relaxed every-family time.

  23. Growing up, we went to a few different ones, and I can’t remember them very well, but I lived in Alabama near the gulf coast for a couple of years, and Gulf Shores was a great little beach town we went to a lot!

  24. My husband and I and our daughters stayed at the Venetian Court. We loved it. I had fun walking around and going into a coffee house but mostly stayed on the beach. I love beaches and ocean views. We also love Mendocino. We have stayed at the Agate Cove Inn several times before we had children. Their breakfast was the best. And again, the ocean views. Sighs. I need a beach house.

  25. I LOVE places like this! The one place that I can relate too from your books is Honolulu from Flirty with Forty- can you call that a beach town? My personal favorite is New Buffalo, MI. When it was just my son and I, we would go there for the weekends to just hang out.

  26. My favorite beach town is Avila Beach. Even though I live 30 minutes away and visit quite frequently, it is still my favorite. I love how clean and peaceful it is. It’s not your typical trashy beach town.

  27. I haven’t really been to the beach much since I was a baby. My family tells me Virginia Beach was very pretty. I haven’t started you new series yet but I can’t wait to dive into it.

  28. My favorite beach town is Pismo Beach, Ca….Classic California! We own a second home there and although we are not on the beach (my dream- someday!) we do have a gorgeous view from our home and back patio. The sunsets are amazing! On the front of our home we installed a plaque that reads “La bella Vita” it means The Beautiful Life……

    I think Meg and her sisters feel that way when they are at their beach house! Don’t you?!?

    Have a great day Jane!

  29. Favorite beach town: I live in the East now, and I’ve lived in the beach towns of Wells, ME, and Rye, NH. I love my memories of both since I could walk to the beach in both in a blizzard and snowshoe on the beach. :o)

    My favorite scene in The Good Woman was when her husband threw her out of the house. It felt so real and unfair yet justified, and my heart was rent just thinking about my own husband tearing my children from me in such an instance (which I would fight tooth and nail over, by the way!).


  30. When I was in College, we went to Santa Cruz. I loved the warm skin buzz from a whole day spent in the salt air and sun. Good times!
    Later, as a married gal, we love to go to my husband’s family favorite, Ocean City, MD. Different ocean beaches, but many fond memories.

  31. hi Jane, I don’t really have a favorite beach town,but my husband grew up in one..Elberta,Michigan. It’s a quaint little town with cute little shops and bars. It is on the shores of Lake Michigan(gorgeous). This would be a nice remote spot for you to do some research for a future book:)

  32. HI Jane,
    Any beach is my favorite! But I am partial to beaches in Alaska, my home state. They aren’t warm or really very sandy but they have good skipping rocks and it all feels like home.

  33. I grew up in the Bay Area and Capitola and the surrounding beaches were a special place for my sister and I. It was always a place we “ran away to”… a place that celebrated our youth, healed our wounds, and renewed and revived us to head back down the hill to the valley where our everyday lives resumed. We would always be sad to leave when the day was over, but our smiles and lightened hearts always followed us as we always new we would be back soon enough:)

  34. My favorite is Virginia Beach, Virginia. The water is so cold though. The beach runs with little crabs darting in and out of holes; great for my camera.

  35. Jane,

    I didn’t grow up around any beaches, but now love very close to beautiful ones here in SO CA. I don’t to them as often as I should though, I need to fix that.

    I do love some of the gulf coast of FL beaches, I have a friend that lives there and they are always pretty and full of shells and shark’s teeth, and of course the water is warm.

    Growing up we had a lake that we visited a lot, many of my family members had permanent cabins there and I can remember literally hanging out there all Summer, staying at one cabin then another. I also learned to love the water, and my Grandpa taught me how to swim there.

    It is too hard to pick a favorite part of “The Good Woman.”

    Thanks so much for sharing the pics! I want to go visit there now!

  36. Awesome photos! I like the scene where Meg tells Chad, “You need to find a young, single version of me.”. And Chad tells her, “No, Meg, I just need you.”. It shows the essence of altruistic Meg and the man who sees there’s something really special about her.

  37. Hi Jane,

    My favorite beach town is Estepona in Spain. It’s a place I haven’t been in years but a place I visited a lot when I was younger.
    It’s a small Spanish beach town with a local marked every Saturday and I fell in love with the people, the food and the noise at the marked.
    I miss it a lot but hopefully I’ll come back with my Family someday.

  38. Bathtub Beach on Hutchinson Island Stuart, Florida.

    Beautiful reef enclosed swimming area. Nice area for families to allow their children to swim in a safe environment. Lots of sand for sand castles, warm water and beautiful ocean view.

    Thanks for sharing Capitola, CA. I’ve never heard of this area. Sounds like you and Ty had a wonderful time.

  39. I grew up in a beach town along the shores of Lake Ontario. Still love to go back and walk along the boardwalk, trek through the trails, and of course swim out to the dunes. This is made even better when I can share the time with my girlfriend from Kindergarten days, as we spent our teenage years biking on her tandem bicycle (built for two) to the beach whenever possible. Great memories.
    Thanks for sharing YOUR memories (and pictures), Jane!

  40. The beach that I love and miss so much are the ones I grew up on in the Philippines. It was like living in paradise! Too bad I haven’t been back there in over 41 yrs!

  41. I visited similar places in 1998 when I went to the RWA conference in Anaheim – we went on a bus trip around the beaches from Laguna up – there was one I remember for its absolute quaintness – tons of old colourful houses and the cutest shops and streets, it was like something out of a movie (maybe it was Huntingdon, I can’t remember!!) Just gorgeous though. Southern California is certainly something wonderful.

  42. I have only been to California a few times, but love the beaches there and the towns. Our favorite beach town here in Texas is Port Aransas or Port A. as it is called. What a beautiful setting you decided on for your books, I will now picture it as I read. Thank you for the tour!

  43. I live very far from a beach so I don’t really have a favorite one. I love your photos. 🙂 Have a great weekend.

  44. I love all beaches, but one that stole my heart was La Selva Beach. Just so picturesque, natural and large. Your photos are wonderful.

  45. Hi Jane – loved the book and reading about the background for the book in Capitola. My family also has used the beach, usually camping, as a way to reconnect. My favorite Beach is Pismo. I love the people, the food, and walking on the beach. The smell, and sounds of the beach renew my energy and help me feel alive.

  46. Love the photos, Jane! My favorite beach town would have to be Captiva Island in South West Florida. It’s gorgeous! Way too many great scenes in The Good Woman to pick out one.

  47. I love the beach and beach towns. Capitola looks wonderful. I have never been to California, but we will plan a trip there for sure.
    I have a lot of favourites:
    Riccione, on the Adriatic coast of Italy, lots to do, great shopping and lots of fun, any beach in Sardinia, Italy. The sea and beaches are wonderful. I always think of Sardinia as the Hawaii of the Mediterranean. And I love Hanauma Bay in Hawaii. My husband took me to Hawaii on the toughest year of my life, when my Mom passed away and I have a lot of nice memories. Also, as a family, we went to Wilmington, NC, really nice and Playa del Carmen in Mexico and Aruba and some wonderful beaches in the British Virgin Islands and the list can go on…. we really love the water and the beach in my family.
    I love the smell of the air and walking on the shore. I find the sea/ocean were calming.

  48. Jane,

    My favorite is of course the Jersey Shore. I grew up going to Seaside Heights and Ocean Beach. Now we go to Ortley which is in between the two. You can walk or drive to either of them in a few minutes. Unfortunately, it is being rebuilt now but new memories will be made in the Jersey Shore…I am looking forward to making those new memories 🙂 Thank you for sharing the pictures. They are really great and so nice to see what inspires your writing!

    Travel safely to Texas today!!


  49. The only beach I have been to has been Myrtle Beach South Carolina. I have been busy all day doing some dishes for my dinner tomorrow.

  50. I fell in love with Capitola in the Good Woman…I hope to visit it someday, and see if it is as I imagine it after reading about it in your book.

    Don’t know if it is exactly a beach town, but it is on the ocean, and my most favorite place on the world (so far), Kailua, Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. Have been many times, but not in almost 10 years, so I hope it will be in my not-so-distant future!

    Would love a Mr.Toot’s coffee mug…I have an interesting coffee mug collection that my husband enjoys teasing me about…he says I need to get rid of some, but I am sentimentally attached to all of them!

    So looking forward to your next Brennan Sisters novel!!!

  51. I think Sarasota, FL, is a great beach town. Siesta Key has the really cool “powdered sugar” white sand beach. Lido Key has St. Armand’s Circle for fun shopping. (It was actually built for John Ringling’s wife so she’d have a place to shop in FL.) And even Stephen King winters there, and loves it enough to write a book based on it.

    1. Hey I know you! =) I talked about you in my post(#39)…..well how much I love visiting the beaches in FL; which is all about you. I am so glad you finally checked out Jane’s blog! Aren’t the pics great? I think this is another road trip we need to plan! TTYL

  52. I grew up in New Jersey and always loved going down the shore in the summer. When we were little the boardwalk at Seaside was a favorite place to see if we could win stuffed animals. When I was older we would go down to Belmar. Unfortunately, these towns have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy and I don’t even recognize them when I see pictures of them.

  53. i love beach, every sunday, if hubby won’t object, we’re always go to the beach, to watch the sunset and collect shells with our two boys 😀

  54. Growing up in Venice, California is my favorite beach and also Santa Monica Pier. We went there last month, and Palm Springs. Now that I live in Virginia, we really love Virginia Beach and go there twice a year. Loved your pictures, would like to visit there next trip to California..thanks for the peek and fun sights Jane.

  55. Well, I am spoiled for choice now that I live on an island (Vancouver Is), but for beach town, I would say Tofino on the north of Vancouver Island is pretty fabulous. Open Pacific, pretty spectacular storms in the winter, fabulous bakery, great restaurants, surfing (with wetsuits), temperate rainforest, laid-back vibe. My favourite beach though, is probably Kits Beach in Vancouver where my Dad would take me walking every morning when I was little or Kiloran Beach on Colonsay, a little island in the inner Hebrides of Scotland–an arc of the most amazing white sand and azure water (too cold to swim in when I have been there).

  56. I don’t have a favorite beach town except wherever the current one is in the book I’m reading! I’ve never really been to a beach “town” so to say, so when I read about one, I just get transported and want to go so bad! I loved reading about the Brennen sister’s and their house. I will admit that I didn’t picture it at all as the place you showed! I also love all of the places Nicholas Sparks describes in North Carolina in his books. Makes me want to go there too! I dream of living in a beach town, of course on the water would be a dream come true… but anywhere close by would be wonderful! Especially when winter hits in Indiana!

  57. I grew up going every summer to Reid State Park in Maine… I loved the ocean, even though it was freezing cold and all the little towns up and down the Maine coast. I’ve also visited California several times… I just love the beach and one day hope to retire to the sound of waves and seabirds.

  58. Hi everyone,
    I had such a wonderful time in Texas this past weekend, visiting with friends and readers over tea! We’re flying home today and I’ve got to get back to my writing but I wanted to check in and announce the winners –

    #12 Barbara S.
    #59 Glenda Kuehn

    Shoot me an email with your mailing details and I’ll get the prizes in the mail right away.
    Hope you all had a lovely weekend!

    Jane xoxo

  59. The beach in Candolim, Goa, India is especially memorable because a wild cow hijacked a British couple’s spot under umbrellas. The lady told the gentleman with her, “Wallop it!” And the guy replied, “What if it wallops me back?” They moved the umbrella and the cow wandered away in our direction, I fell off my lounger, trying to avoid it. It was hilarious!

  60. Hope I’m not too late to enter…
    Unfortunately, I do not have a favorite beach town since I don’t really care for beaches – unless you can do something to get rid of the sand!! I’m sorry to say I haven’t read any of your books, since I just discovered you but I already added lots of your books to my TBR list.

  61. Late replying – I have been swamped! I loved the setting of Capitola and have been meaning to ask if it was a real town – I actually tried to look it up on a map, because I was in San Fran & Sonoma a couple weeks ago:) and wanted to check it out – but I couldn’t find it.

    I grew up in beach towns – Naples, FL & Harwich, MA – I love them:). I have a new favorite though…Seaside, FL (where the Jim Carey movie The Truman Show was filmed). There’s a great bookstore there, too. Getting so excited for The Good Daughter.

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