Highway 1 isn’t just a road; it’s a gateway to beaches and bird’s-eye views. Take your time exploring the varied landscapes and, if you like what you see, stay for a while. Places like Half Moon Bay and Pescadero are especially tourist-friendly, with plenty of bars, restaurants and shops to peruse. Here are a few must-see stops along the way.

 

Best Beaches and Scenic Stops

Whether surfing is on the brain or serene sand-in-your-toes strolls, there’s a beach for every interest. Stunning Half Moon Bay offers four broad miles of sand, perfect for sunbathing, picnics, fishing and long walks. Just half a mile west of Highway 1, the bay has three parking and access points at Francis, Venice and Dunes beaches.

There’s no shortage of scenic stops along Highway 1, including Pillar Point Harbor. The protected harbor is where many fishermen live and work. It’s also one of the safest, thanks to modern amenities, 369 berths and an inner and outer breakwater. For great photo ops, head to Princeton Shoreline or Surfers Beach, both of which offer picturesque views of the shoreline.

Feeling adventurous? Explore the caves in the sandstone cliffs of San Gregorio State Beach, about 10 miles south of Half Moon Bay.

For dramatic scenery, head to Pescadero, with its mile-long shoreline, rocky dunes, cliffs and sandy coves. Just across the highway, birdwatchers and naturalists spot blue heron, deer and foxes at the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve.

 

Pub Grub

After a morning of watersports and beach bumming, fuel up with some local grub. Cameron’s Pub in Half Moon Bay is a triple threat: bar, restaurant and inn. Cameron, the owner, hails from England, and in true pub fashion, memorabilia covers the walls. There’s even a real double-decker bus parked outside the pub that serves as an unofficial smoking section. The outdoor patio is a popular hangout spot, too, especially for dog owners.

For a casual evening spot, head to Old Princeton Landing Public House and Grill in Half Moon Bay. The relaxed bar offers a large selection of brews as well as wine and well drinks. There are two pool tables should you feel a bit of friendly competition coming on. The laidback spot hosts live bands, so consider swinging by for a show.

 

Get Physical

When the sunshine becomes too much, cool off with a dip in the water, and maybe learn a new sport. California Canoe & Kayak offers rentals for experienced canoers and kayakers along with classes for newcomers. Classes cover stand-up paddleboarding, whitewater kayaking and kayak fishing, so take your pick!

If you’d rather stick to dry land, why not spend a day on the links. Mullins at Half Moon Bay Golf Links offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. There’s also a bar and grill on site, making it easy to spend hours on end here. Choose between the Ocean Course and the Old Course, two internationally celebrated courses in the Bay Area. Make sure to bring your camera along; you’re in for some unbeatable views.

 

Picnic Views

Speaking of views, picnics are one of the best ways to savor your natural surroundings. Harley Farms Goat Dairy is a fun stop for families or anyone remotely fond of cheese. Visitors can meet and feed the goats before sampling cheese in their shop. Pick up a few cheese selections for the road and save some for your picnic, too.

Another interactive outdoor foodie experience takes place at Blue House Farm’s farm stand and U-pick location in Pescadero. While it’s season-based, guests can try their hand at picking organic berries that will be later turned into delicious treats like fresh berry pies, strawberry shortcakes, lemonades, ciders and more. We hope you’ve worked up an appetite!

Why not visit a winery for a sampling of local varietals, too? Sante Arcangeli Winery in Pescadero specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both of which come from grapes from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Visit their tasting room, open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Otherwise, grab a bottle or two for your picnic. Make it to Half Moon Bay’s Main Street and enjoy award-winning wines and art at Barterra Winery.

In a rush? Stop by Pescadero’s Arcangeli Grocery Co./Norm's Market for last-minute snacks like country-style breads. They also serve up some flavorful mustards, marinades, jams and butters. If you’re packing seafood, consider purchasing one of their tangy sauces.

 

Where to Stay

When the sun starts setting, it’s time to drive on over to your hotel for the night. Luckily, there are several great accommodations along that route, including Half Moon Bay Lodge. There are 80 guest rooms and suites in all, with amenities ranging from free Wi-Fi and in-room flat-screen TVs to plush bathrobes and wood-burning fireplaces in select rooms. Downtown Half Moon Bay is very close, with bars, restaurants and shops for every want.

After a day of outdoor adventure, you’re more than deserving of some pampering. Indulge in a relaxing spa treatment at Costanoa Lodge in Pescadero. The menu is fairly extensive, with offerings ranging from deep tissue and scalp massages to aromatherapy. Lodge rooms, each feature a mini-fridge, coffee maker; double french doors and a patio and deck. Rooms contain either a king-size bed or two double beds, making this a smart choice for couples and groups of friends traveling together.

While you’re there make a trip to Pigeon Point Lighthouse. The 115-foot lighthouse is perched atop a cliff and offers incredible views. Enjoy the tide pools and an oceanfront boardwalk. The setting might feel remote, but it’s actually quite close to Butano State Park and the Pescadero Marsh.

 

See all that San Mateo County/Silicon Valley has to offer and plan your trip now.