I'm so excited to share with you my first local guide! I'm starting off this series with my home of Moss Beach and the surrounding area which is known here simply as “the Coastside". This refers to approximately 30 miles of stunning coastline between the towns of Montara and Pescadero, just south of San Francisco, California.
The scenery here is an eclectic mix of beachy communities, farmland, horse ranches, redwood forests and dramatic cliffs tumbling into the ocean. I love it so much! The Coastside has been on my radar for a long time as I grew up “over the hill" in Silicon Valley however it wasn't until I moved here a few years ago that I've really gotten a chance to get to know the area and fall in love with its charm.
In this guide, you'll find a list of my favorite restaurants and things to do along the coast. They can be broken up into day-trips away from the city or, done all together, they'd make a full-blown holiday. Either way, it's a gorgeous part of the world and I pinch myself everyday I get to call it home. I hope this will inspire you to come by for a visit!
So, first things first...
Where to Eat
MOSS BEACH DISTILLERY
A speakeasy during the Prohibition, this supposedly-haunted joint has incredible views and solid pub food. Grab a drink, watch the sunset by the firepits and order some bites. Don't forget to ask your waiter about “the Blue Lady". Dog friendly.
What to order: Kale & Quinoa Salad, Burger, Chicken Sandwich and Fries.
140 Beach Way, Moss Beach
An adorable caboose that cranks out delicious burgers, salads and more all made by “the happiest chef in Northern California" according to the New York Times! My favorite one-two combo with the Coastside Farmers' Market.
What to order: Hamburger, Mushroom Sandwich, Four Barrel Coffee.
225 Cabrillo Hwy S, HMB
A cute little barn on the side of Highway One in Miramar owned by chef Jill Klein (pictured). California cuisine with a Southern twist. Nice patio with blankets, succulents and heat lamps. Dog friendly.
What to order: The Pretender, What the Cluck, Barnold Palmer.
3068 Cabrillo Hwy N, HMB
Old-school standby down in Pescadero famous for its artichoke soup. Pub fare. Grab a coffee across the street at Downtown Local.
202 Stage Rd, Pescadero
COASTSIDE FARMERS' MARKET
Wonderful selection of locally-grown produce and flowers open May through December. I recommend grabbing some sausages from Root Down Farm and stocking up on some fresh veggies and Moss Beach Kombucha.
Saturdays 9-1PM in 225 Cabrillo Hwy S, HMB
Wednesdays 2:30-6:30PM at Rockaway Beach in Pacifica
PILLAR POINT HARBOR
Buy a live Dungeness Crab, King Salmon or any number of fresh locally-caught fish from one of the fishing boats in the harbor. Call 650-726-8724 to find out the latest catch.
1 Johnson Pier, HMB
NEW LEAF MARKET
Best grocery store on the coast. Don't miss their Coastal Kale Salad!
50 San Mateo Rd, HMB
What to Do
GO FOR A HIKE
One of my favorite things to do here is set off on one of the many beautiful hiking trails. For an easy hike, try the flat & paved Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail (start in Miramar and go down to Kelly Avenue and back) or Devil's Slide ( a touch more strenuous but also paved). For a more serious hike, trek to the top of Montara Mountain for 360º views of the Bay Area (start at Grey Whale Cove, Montara Beach, or Kanoff Street) or through the primordial redwood forests at Purisima Creek. Leashed dogs welcome at all trails mentioned except Purisima.
Want to just chill and park yourself at the beach? Montara, Grey Whale Cove, and Seal Cove are my favorites but you really can't go wrong. Just remember we're not in Southern California so bring lots of layers, a blanket and a thermos of hot coffee while you're at it. A beach tent is a great idea on sunny days. Oh and some binoculars as you might spot a whale blowing! Note: Please be especially careful crossing Highway One at Grey Whale Cove.
Technically north of the Coastside, Linda Mar Beach is a great spot to learn to surf, assuming the waves are relatively small and working. Rent a board and wetsuit from Traveler and grab a Surf Club Day Pass to use their sauna and hot showers after your sesh. Princeton Jetty is another solid option for beginners and you can rent a board close by at Mavericks Surf Shop in Pillar Point Harbor. (Mavericks is a famous break beyond the harbor that drawers big wave surfers from around the world.)
Get in touch with your inner Cousteau by visiting the tide pools at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach. Be sure to go at low-tide and wear sturdy boots as it can get pretty slippery out there. With a little patience, you'll be rewarded with starfish, sea anenomes, and hermit crabs!
VISIT A FARM
Grab a warm pie and some fresh eggs from Pie Ranch in Pescadero or, in the summer months, head down to Swanton Berry Farm to pick your own strawberries. In the fall, enjoy the festive pumpkin patches that pop up along Highway One and Route 92. You'll quickly understand why Half Moon Bay is called the “pumpkin capital of the world". Last but not least, check out Blue House Farm's wonderful farm stand on San Gregorio Road.
A surf-inspired shop with home goods, clothing and more. Drop-in day passes to their surf club which includes a garden, warm showers and a sauna are $15-20.
5450 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacifica
SAN GREGORIO GENERAL STORE
Eclectic store with a bar and live music on the weekends.
7615 Stage Rd, San Gregorio
Where to Stay
An Airstream, a cabin on a farm, baller beachfront properties—there's something for everyone on Airbnb. Check out my wishlist below of my favorite listings in the area!
SEAL COVE INN
An English-style bed & breakfast in Moss Beach that's just a short walk to the Distillery and the stunning Fitzgerald Marine Reserve.
POINT MONTARA LIGHTHOUSE HOSTEL
Dating back to 1875, this old lighthouse and coastguard building now house a quaint little hostel. Beautiful views and a nearly private beach just below the lighthouse.
Stay in their resort, one of their glamping tents, or camp in your own amongst the eucalyptus and pine trees. Firepits, saunas and hot showers make the camping options so appealing I've actually never stayed in one of the rooms. There's also a lovely hotel restaurant and gift shop with some basic grocery supplies to boot! Go for a hike to the beach or back in the surrounding hills for stunning views.
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments below!