A Visit to Pacifica, California

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Pacifica Beach in Pacifica, California

By Karen Fisher Ho

In this suffocating and stifling time of COVID-19, escape!  Hop into your vehicle and drive south down Cabrillo Highway/Highway One. Absorb, linger, and memerize at this slice of the coast, the city of Pacifica’s  well kept secret. 

A glance to your right as far as the eye can see, will come into view the majestic Pacific Ocean, green as a sea turtle’s shell.  The dark salt water runs benevolently to an endless horizon. The weight of the world’s issues will begin to lift like the mysterious fog and mist. 

Here are a few great View/Stops along the way to help relax, rejuvenate and enjoy your day.

~View/Stop – 1 – Pacifica Pier on Beach Blvd~

Along Cabrillo Highway, exit Francisco Blvd.  Note the down ‘n’ dirty, as described on Google, Winters tavern bar on the right with it’s large red sign and tall dinghy white letters. It is a locals go-to featuring live rock, folk and bluegrass bands.  Also described as a beach roadhouse/dive bar.  What’s not to love! 

Take the first right onto Paloma.  Drive two blocks to Beach Blvd. Along the promenade is posted:  Caution Waves May Break Over Seawall.  Caught me it you can!

View fishermen with their poles dangling from Pacifica Pier trying to caught the seasonal striped bass and salmon while chatting and enjoying thermoses of coffee with a bit of Jameson or Jim Beam to warm their insides perhaps? 

Continue to the end of the boulevard. At this point you can park, to stroll and explore.  If you choose to make this a day of exploration by foot, grab your athletic or hiking shoes, a walking stick and of course binoculars, for whale watching. Pacifica’s beaches are connected by walkways and trails to form a continuous waterfront trail, from Mori Trail /Point ending at the beach at the Linda Mar.

~View/Stop 2 – Mori Point~

OR park and embark onto Mori Trail for the short climb up Bootlegger’s steps to Mori Point’s 360 degree view .The clean exhilarating ocean breeze, the breathtaking views and the calmness of the scenery will not disappoint. 

On the left, note the manicured golfing green and on the beach side begins Mori Trail to the Point.  Mori Point’s expansive view of the Pacific makes one feel small against such grandeur.   Grab those binoculars! At the top, plop on a bench and watch for the massive and imposing grey whales. 

If driving, make a left at the end of Beach Blvd and a right onto Lakeside following signs to Hwy 1-south (Half Moon Bay).  This four-lane highway, 2 lanes in each direction, is easy to get on and off.

~View/Stop 3- Gorilla Barbecue  (2145 Coast Highway 1) ~

(If you are walking the full trail, this eatery will be missed.)

Do you feel your stomach starting to growl? Coming up on the left is a faded red train car, signage reads Gorilla Barbecue “If its’ smokin’, We’re Open.” This delicious establishment was featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-In, and Dives. Gorilla BBQ offers slow cooked meats that melt in your mouth, a favorite of bikers (with or without engines) and locals. Imagine a hefty indulgence of pulled port, or smoky heaven- between- the- lips rack of ribs.
Note: The old railroad car is an original from the Pacific Coast Railroad that ran along a narrow gauge railway on the Central Coast of California

~View/Stop 4 – Pacifica Skateboard Park (540 Crespi Drive)~

Back on Highway One continue south (or still on the trail) across from the corner Peruvian restaurant Puerta 27, is the Pacifica Skateboard Park. With almost daily shows, depending on the weather, stop, watch and learn kickflips, ollies, heelflips, wheelies, no complys, and witness a few splats. 

~View/Stop 5 – Taco Bell Cantina (5200 Hwy One) and Miramar Beach~

Back on Cabrillo Highway (or on the hiking trail), across from Linda Mar Shopping Center, on the beach side is the Taco Bell Cantina.  While waiting to make the turn into the parking lot, take notice of a possible wave  of wet-suited, wet tousled- hair surfers with their really big surfboards crossing towards the beach.  

Inside, the Mexican menu of tacos, burritos, nachos, fruit freezes,  blasts and a few alcohol choices, are all enticing. Located directly on the beach, this Taco Bell even has a walk-up ordering window for surfers.  I wonder where they store their cash or credit card in those wetsuits. Slip out the back door, with a Margarita in hand, plop onto one if their benches and enjoy the frolicking beach activity. Yes, please!.

To round out your seaside adventure, meander down the restaurant’s back stairs to Linda Mar Beach. Inhale the clean salt air, plop onto the sand and dig your toes and feet in.  Listen to the kiddies scream and giggle between the waves washing over their tiny toes and siblings demolishing newly built sand castles, a true stress reliever. 

The Coastal experience is so much more than a six mile drive through Pacifica, Calif (the location of the oldest European discovery of the San Francisco Bay). It is like the fog and the surf. The weighty issues of the day, of the year, glide along the ocean surface and float over you up the mountainside dissipating into the sunlight.

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