School is out and temperatures nudge the triple digits as a great migration begins. Each year, inhabitants of California's sweltering interior valleys journey to the coast. Here, they dash toward the surf and sprawl contentedly in the cool mists of a summer day at the beach in Capitola. Some have made this trip annually all their lives. Parents and grandparents owned or rented cabins on streets named for the stifling cities they had just left, like Stockton, Sacramento, and San Jose. Opening on July 4, 1874, Capitola is "The Oldest Camping Ground on the Pacific Coast." Its visionary owner, German immigrant Frederick Hihn, shaped the grounds in European style, wound up to run as efficiently as a German clock. As the resort progressed from a tent camp into a dignified Victorian retreat by the sea, its character similarly advanced. Incorporating as a city in 1949, Capitola reached its 75th birthday as a tidy village of historic cottages, beach-oriented shops, and esplanade concessions bordering a seasonal lagoon.

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