The most famous drive in America may be Highway 1, the 650-mile mountain highway along the Pacific coastline of California. Though its real name is technically California State Route 1, Highway 1 has dazzled visitors for generations—particularly in the famed region of San Mateo County/Silicon Valley. There is no sight in the country quite like the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean, and there’s nowhere like Highway 1’s hidden-gem towns like Pacifica, Montara, Princeton-by-the-Sea and Moss Beach to take it in.
For anyone considering a fabulous California coastline getaway, let’s take a look at the best restaurants, attractions and hotels on the northern stretch of Highway 1 in San Mateo County/Silicon Valley.
For great seafood that’s as fresh as it gets, you can’t beat the fresh-caught fare and immersive ocean views of the best restaurants in San Mateo County/Silicon Valley. Locals recommend Nick’s Seafood Restaurant in Pacifica, a vintage, retro, family-owned seafood experience that dates back to 1927. One of Pacifica’s most elegant ocean-view restaurants is Moonraker, an out-of-this-world experience for fine dining that offers an unparalleled Sunday seafood buffet (with bottomless mimosas included!). The extremely hip Peruvian fusion spot La Costanera is famed for its beachfront views and delicious ceviche, where large parties will want to ask for the patio seating and the circular tables with fire pits in the center.
The coast has the most to see in San Mateo County/Silicon Valley. Hikers, runners, bikers and horseback riders flock to Devil’s Slide Trail off Highway 1 between Pacifica and Montara. The trail used to be part of Highway 1, but now remains as an extraordinary 1.3-mile multi-use trail with paved paths and modern amenities like bike racks, telescopes, drinking fountains and well-maintained restrooms. Dogs are welcome, too, when kept on a leash.
You’ll find few more magical ways to experience the Pacific Ocean up close than at Moss Beach’s Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, a marine sanctuary of tide pools featuring anemones, sea urchins, multicolored starfish and much more. Depending on the time of year, you might even see seals or sea lions, too. If you prefer the magnificent Pacific flowers, Shelldance Orchid Gardens combines fantastic ocean views with a maze-like network of garden rooms and greenhouses full of begonias, violets and white moth orchid candelabras. A popular wedding spot or baby shower destination, the gardens are otherwise only open to the public on weekends.
Top the day off with a little night music at Pacifica Performances, a music hall whose diverse and eclectic performances include everything from gospel to belly dance to orchestral to classical guitar. Check their list of upcoming concerts for performance dates during your visit.
You’d better believe that the best places to stay in San Mateo County/Silicon Valley will leave you in a paradise right on the ocean with the waves lulling you to sleep.
The breathtaking architecture of the Pacifica Beach Hotel has made it a local landmark, a facility as classic as the coast on which it sits, with scenic views and exquisite in-room Jacuzzis. Connected to the fabulous Moonraker Restaurant, Best Western Plus Lighthouse has direct access to the beach and extraordinary Pacific views, while still being close to all of the best attractions. Princeton-by-the-Sea is home to two very unique properties. Oceano Hotel and Spa, a full service hotel with coastal elegance right across from Pillar Point Harbor, and The Inn at Mavericks, which is nestled on a small bluff overlooking picturesque Pillar Point Harbor and the Pacific Ocean.
You’ll be a welcome guest in San Mateo County/Silicon Valley, where the can’t-miss charms of Highway 1 combine with unbelievable discoveries. Whether you’re a couple on a romantic getaway or a family seeking an unforgettable trip, San Mateo County/Silicon Valley is the one and only place to take in Highway 1 to its fullest.
See all that San Mateo County/Silicon Valley has to offer and plan your trip now.