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NorCal Coast


By Jody HolmanPublished 4 years ago 3 min read
Palmetto Ave, Pacifica Golf Course, Linda Mar Beach Frequenters, High Tide Cafe, Chit Chat at the Pier, Rockaway Beach from the Quarry

If you are planning a trip to California, and have time to rent a car, put the top down and enjoy the curves, take a drive down Highway 1 from San Francisco. At the first stop light, you will be in Pacifica, a small, if somewhat sprawling town that offers raw beauty that is not to miss. Below are are some of my discoveries, reviews, and beautiful places to stop- either for photos, or food, or just to take it all in.


Though Pacifica doesn’t have a “city center” per se, there are some darling walking and eating areas. Pacifica has three beaches and a lot of nooks and crannies to explore, including hiking in the Open Space, and orchid farm and views that are hard to beat anywhere in the world. And let’s not forget the surf! At the Northern end, Palmetto Ave has some very cute, small-town shops, including a rare find: an actual book store, Florey's, est. 1977, which feels a bit like stepping back in time when you enter.

A few steps away, the pier itself is quite an interesting stroll (stop a crab catcher to chat and they may give you an explanation of their new-fangled crab traps). You can grab a coffee or small snack at the Chit Chat Cafe (and on weekends, the occasional bbq). If the smell of fresh fish is too much for you, bring your walking shoes, and head South on the trail that sits on a burm between the Pacifica Golf Course and the beach. It will take you towards Mori Point, up the stairs (work those glutes), where you can sit on a bench and catch 180 degree views of the ocean.

Another wonderful area to spend a morning or lunchtime is Linda Mar beach at the southernmost end of town. Known throughout the Bay Area as a prime surf spot, the people watching is a entertainment alone. You can walk the path along the beach and over the hill, but a stroll on this beach is hard to beat. If you have kids, don’t miss the Northern area tide pools full of star fish, and all kinds of great shells and discoveries.

Two favorite local cafes are Soul Grind, which is always abuzz, full of locals and surfers. Sit by the fire or out on the patio while you try one of their pastries curated from bakeries around the Bay Area and their coffee roasted on site. Beach Monkey, only a few blocks away, is a quieter, smaller cafe for acai bowls and delicious coffee. The Tap Room, if you are in a beer mood, is on the other end of the block- microbrews and a seat in the sun.

If you happen to be in our neck of the woods mid-afternoon or evening, Rockaway Beach might be your best bet. Breakfast is served all day at Breakers Cafe across from the neighborhood institution, Nick's, known for its crabcakes and back-in-time decor. Or you might grab lunch at our much sought after Gorilla BBQ in the orange caboose on HWY 1, or the recently re-opened and perennially popular Pacifica Brewery (was the Surf Spot) which has a beautifully redone interior, and places on the patio for a lovely, casual meal. Then work off some of that pork, strolling the path in our quarry, and visit the beach before stopping in at A Grape in the Fog Wine Bar, or grabbing a romantic, happy hour cocktail with ocean views at the new Moonraker.

Puerto 27 's location in the hotel across from Linda Mar Beach has turned over and over for years; finally, Puerto 27 has found the right formula: beautiful view, good food at varying price ranges, excellent bartenders who know their stuff, huge windows/light, and friendly staff. Fresh oysters, and some true-to-Peru dishes. And don't miss the Pisco Sours! {Best dishes are the lomo saltado (steak), ceviches, and the trucha encebollada (whole pan roasted trout)}. It is a small plate/ family style so easy to share.

In any case, come for drinks, come for a drive, with a date or after a day of surfing. Pacifica is no longer a drive-thru town!


About the Creator

Jody Holman

Wanderluster, wine drinker, pro photographer and travel designer. NorCal boutique studio for weddings and portraits, but I love to discover new corners to write about, shoot, and share through creation of unique itineraries.

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