In the face of rapid environmental change, restoration will need to emphasize innovative approaches that support the long-term resilience of social and ecological systems. To this end, we highlight the critical, but often overlooked, role of adaptive capacity, which enables restoration practice, governance, and target ecosystems to adapt to directional environmental change. We identify three core attributes of adaptive capacity: (1) diversity, (2) connectivity, and (3) flexibility. For each attribute, we describe key strategies, including enhancing mechanisms of ecological memory, facilitating the generation of beneficial novelty, and developing governance structures that are flexible and anticipatory. These core attributes can also lead to maladaptive outcomes; careful consideration of a social-ecological system's resilience and vulnerabilities to environmental change will likely be critical to avoid unwanted outcomes. Ultimately, implementing strategies that increase adaptive capacity can bolster restoration efficacy as it seeks to confront the global challenge of rapid environmental change.