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Getaway Guide: Pacifica
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Getaway Guide: Pacifica

Grab your surfboard, call your BFFs, and pack a bag of your summer essentials—a weekend of outdoor adventures await you in Pacifica.

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5 min read

July 31, 2021

Pacifica comfortably sits at the intersection of small-town life and big-city amenities. Located on the coast in San Mateo County—halfway between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay—Pacifica offers beautiful beaches, several surfing hotspots, and the most beautiful hiking trails along rolling hills and towering mountains.

California’s Pacifica is the next NorCal getaway you should go on; it’s an awesome destination to unplug and unwind. Grab your surfboard, call your BFFs, and pack a bag of your summer essentials—a weekend of outdoor adventures await you in Pacifica.

The City of Pacifica is spread along a six-mile stretch of coastal beaches and hills and comprises several small valleys.

Day 1

Arriving

Can you believe that the drive to Pacifica from San Francisco is less than 20 minutes in total? That's right. While the scenic coastal town does feel like a world away from the hustle and bustle of S.F., you’ll actually get there in about six to seven songs at most. Without the need to extensively pre-pack and plan for this coastal adventure, you’ll have all the more time to explore its many beautiful sights.

Since you’ll be arriving in Pacifica in no time, you may as well go ahead and check in at your accommodation of choice and leave the rest of the day to travel around.

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If you’re treating yourself to a luxurious stay by the beach, there’s no other hotel quite like the Pacifica Beach Hotel. This elegant, Victorian-style, 52-room hotel overlooks Linda Mar Beach and features every amenity you could possibly need. Most guest rooms have hot tubs and balconies with ocean views (duh)—the hotel also offers an indoor swimming pool, complimentary WiFi, and free parking.

But if your idea of a getaway isn’t this fancy, consider checking out Pacifica's RV parks—your go-to choice is San Francisco RV Resort

Now that you’ve settled in, get ready for an afternoon of delicious meals and plenty of IG-worthy locations

Pacifica is a well-known popular surfing destination. Surfers often visit Linda Mar Beach. Rockaway Beach is another scenic location worth visiting.

Afternoon

Enjoy a satisfying lunch with ocean views and listen to live music at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant on Rockaway Beach Avenue—you’ll be ready for all the coastal adventures throughout the day. Choose from an extensive menu of steaks, fresh seafood, salads, sandwiches, and more. If you have trouble deciding between all the delicious options, go for the signature crab sandwich and you’ll definitely be impressed.

Nick’s Seafood Restaurant is a few steps away from the shores of Pacifica’s Rockaway Beach, so you may as well go there right after. Not only is the dark-brown sanded beach a gorgeous spot for a photo op, but it’s also a place you can explore for hours on end. Check out the hiking trails south of the beach and on Mori Point towards the north. Make sure to check out the scenic overlook for spectacular views of the beach and the neighboring town. Give yourself a moment or two to take in the views and relax on the sands.

If you enjoy fishing, head out to Pacifica Pier by Sharp Park Beach. The scenic locale is famous for salmon runs and offers awesome coastal sunset views you just have to see. Of the many species you might catch here are: Chinook salmon, striped bass, and white croaker. And no, you don’t need to have a license to cast a line at this spot.

Fishermen frequent the local beaches and the Pacifica Pier, often catching striped bass and salmon. The city is also a popular place to hike.

Evening

After watching the bright magentas and oranges color the sky during sunset hours, it’s time to leave Pacifica Pier and grab another tasty bite. If you’re staying at a campsite with a grill, barbecuing your fresh catch could make for a lovely end to your day. If not, don’t worry—you won’t be missing out on fresh seafood either. Puerto 27 offers a delicious menu of Peruvian dishes with a modern twist. The meals here vary from sandwiches to oysters—it’s delish, to say the least. With premium-quality fresh ingredients, each concoction is infused with exotic flavors and modern techniques. 

Wrap up your day by watching the twinkling stars in the sky over your hotel room. Use your time to soak in your in-room hot tub and prep your muscles for a day of surfing and hiking in Pacifica. At this point, you’re probably going to be wiped out after a busy day of exploring Pacifica, California—we’ll see you after a good night’s sleep!

Many trails wind along the beaches and bluffs in Pacifica, including Mori Point, San Pedro Valley County Park, and the Sanchez Adobe.

Day 2

Morning

Is there anything more refreshing than an early morning hike? We didn’t think so either. Get an early start to your day and head out to Mori Point to squeeze in an awesome hike before hitting the beaches again. The Mori Point Peak Loop Trail starts at exactly where the edge of San Francisco ends—it features dramatic coastal views and hills rich in flora and fauna. You’ll be wrapping up the 2.5-mile loop trail as the sun rises, and soon, you’ll be on your way to your next destination.

For a hearty breakfast or brunch, Breakers is your best bet. Located right next to Rockaway Beach, the family-oriented restaurant serves tasty breakfast classics as well as incredible house specials like crab cake benedicts. Later, make a move to Pacifica Beach View Park—don’t leave your surfboard behind.

Also known as Linda Mar, Pacifica State Beach offers excellent surfing conditions suitable for all skill levels. While your primary focus should be having fun, make sure to be safe on the waters as well. Migrating jellyfish are common during the warmest days of the year, so you’ll want to wear a wetsuit to avoid getting stung.

Climb mountains, not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world. Never stop exploring.

Afternoon

Squeeze a little bit of history into your itinerary and head over to Sam’s Castle. One of Pacifica’s most famous landmarks, the eccentric castle has a unique history of being a party palace, a brothel, a speakeasy, and a Coast Guard outpost. While guided tours of the premises are only currently offered once a month, you should absolutely try and coordinate your visit for a memorable experience.

After exploring the quirky side of Pacifica, it’s time to head back out in nature. Make your way to San Pedro Valley Park for a bit of seclusion and choose one or two of the seven trails in the park for an impressive trek. Hike the 2.1-mile Montara Mountain Trail that boasts several vantage points looking out into the Pacific Ocean. Or for a shorter stroll, opt for the one-mile Brooks Creek Trail, which leads you to the gorgeous 175-foot-tall Brooks Falls.

Rich in history and community spirit, Pacifica has something for everyone. Your vacation will take you through valleys, beaches, and hills.

Evening

Treat yourself to one last tasty dinner in Pacifica, California by booking a table at Moonraker Restaurant. This incredible eatery has sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and serves classic seafood cuisine. Try the popular coconut shrimp and award-winning clam chowder—you’ll be in culinary heaven.

When the sun begins to set, check out of your accommodation and drive around the scenic town of Pacifica one last time, taking in the sounds of the crashing waves and sights of happy people returning from the beach. You’ll be back in San Francisco in a blink of an eye, but don’t let the end of your trip get you down. More summer adventures are on the horizon, so you’ll be back on the road before you know it. 

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