If you ask Bay Area residents about what they love about living here, most of them will mention its proximity to so many diverse landscapes: wine country, redwood forests and epic coastline. One of our favorite places to experience the latter two is the tiny coastal town of Pescadero, located just over an hour’s drive from downtown San Francisco in San Mateo County. Take scenic Highway 1 south for about 50 miles to find yourself surrounded by working farms, towering redwoods and rocky beach coves.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
For a quiet hike, head out to the under-visited Butano State Park, a hushed canyon with mature redwood trees, a soothing creek and 40 miles of trails (watch your step—this is banana slug territory). Make sure to pull over at the stunning Bean Hollow State Beach for an afternoon picnic or sunset stroll around the otherworldly rock formations. To get an up-close look at massive elephant seals, visit the dunes and beaches of Año Nuevo State Park. On the way, stop at the cliff-top Pigeon Point Lighthouse—built in 1871—for a photo and keep an eye out for sea lions and whales. At 115 feet, it’s the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast and continues to assist Coast Guard navigation.
There’s No Excuse for Leaving Empty-Handed
Park the car and walk down the town’s short main street, a strip called Stage Road, to browse the small shops like Slowcoast Pescadero, which sells eco-conscious, handmade gifts and vintage flannel from a rustic shed. Around the corner is Harley Farms Goat Dairy, where you can take a tour of the restored 1910 farm or just watch baby alpine goats romp around. Pick out award-winning chevre and fromage blanc and goat milk lotions and soaps at the on-site shop. Make a trip out to the Pie Ranch barn—owned by a non-profit, educational farm that happens to be shaped like a pie—to buy fresh local produce and a slice of pie.
Don’t Go Hungry or Thirsty
You can get a tasty, filling and affordable lunch at the gas station-joint Mercado and Taqueria de Amigos (cash only). Perk up at Downtown Local with a Sightglass Coffee drink or kombucha (on tap). The tiny shop plays vinyl and sells quirky antique items. You’ll regret leaving town without a warm, fragrant loaf of famous garlic herb artichoke bread from Arcangeli Grocery Company, although you have more self-control than us if you can make it far before devouring it.