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Discover San Mateo County's Coastside

Beach views near Miramar Beach
Beach views near Miramar Beach

Northern California's San Mateo County Coast is an amazing place to experience. Most people think Santa Cruz is the only place to find the perfect beach, but the San Mateo County Coast is equally beautiful and is a quick drive from most places in the Bay Area. There are spectacular beaches, charming small towns and interesting things to do. You will be surprised at what you find.

Take this journey to discover great places to eat, breath-taking scenery and ocean views and fun activities. These are casual communities so unless you are staying at the Ritz, leave your fancy clothes at home.

Coastside Events:

On May 29, 2010 the first annual Coastal Music Festival will be held in Princeton by the Sea at Pillar Point Harbor.

The Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival is held each Fall, this year it will be on October 16-17, 2010. The most noteworthy event is the Maverick's Surf Contest, held when the waves are deemed perfect, 50 feet where the best-of -the-best surfers compete. The competition is held between December and March and the participants receive s 24-hour notice before the event.

For other local events, read the Coastsider, a weekly online publication of activities in the area. On May 14, 2010 at Cypress Meadows in Moss Beach, the West Coast Ramblers will be performing as part of the accoustic music series at 7 pm. Seating is limited.  Reserve a space by calling 650-728-8045 or email

. Cypress Meadows, a conference and event center, is located at 343 Cypress Avenue in Moss Beach (just behind Cypress Flower Farm).


From San Francisco a drive South along Hiway One leads to Pacifica, a beautiful beachside community, just 10 minutes from San Francisco International Airport. For a comprehensive list of fun things to do in Pacifica, click here. See above photo.

Heading South you will pass surfers at Linda Mar Beach. This is a nice place to stop and photograph and there is a Taco Bell with an ocean view here too.

Devil's Slide Tunnel project will make this roadway safer - you can view this immense construction project as you drive from Pacifica South along the coast. There are beautiful ocean views along this treacherous coastline. For a listing of beaches Coastside, click here.


Moss Beach is a charming town and is home to the Moss Beach Distillery, a historic restaurant and bar. There are beautiful views of the ocean and you can sit on the outdoor patio and enjoy your favorite beer. The restaurant has quite a history starting in 1927, as a prohibition haunt and ideal location for rum runners. It was a favorite location for the Hollywood crowd and Dashiell Hammett was a frequent patron and used the bar as the setting for one of his novels. Many consider it to be haunted by the "Blue Lady" ghost, click here for more details. This is one place you don't want to miss. See above photo courtesy of Moss Beach Distillery.


Princeton by the Sea is another charming town. This part of the Coast is an active fishing area, so you will see a marina and commercial piers. Commercial fishing and sport fishing operations are located here. Walk around the marina and out on the pier.

There are a handful of restaurants within walking distance that all serve fresh seafood. For a very casual dining experience try Princeton Seafood Company located near the Marina. The food couldn't be any fresher or tastier here in this family owned restaurant.

Another choice is Barbara's Fish Trap, located on the water side. They have a to-go window and picnic tables out front. They also have a dine-in restaurant that always has a wait.

The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company makes their own beer and have a large inside dining room and outdoor patio. The food is hearty and delicious. In nice weather you can sit outdoors and enjoy the water views. If you are craving something besides seafood, Mezzaluna serves Italian cuisine, located near the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company.


Driving further South you will arrive in Miramar. The Miramar Beach Restaurant is a nice place to stop. This restaurant also has a colorful history dating back to Prohibition when it was a speakeasy roadhouse run by a powerful Madam. You will enjoy the water views from the dining room and outdoor patio, as well as their extensive menu. The seafood chowder is delicious. The outdoor patio has fire-pits and comfortable seating. Admire the beautiful ocean views and stroll along the beach. Should you decide to stay overnight here there are several charming places along the ocean. See above photo.

Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn has balconies that overlook the ocean. Click here for upcoming Miramar events.

There are some outstanding beaches here besides the one by the restaurant. Drive to Roosevelt Beach for beautiful scenery and a walk along the beach.


Half Moon Bay is the largest city along the San Mateo Coast and the only one that is incorporated and boasts a City Council. The other towns mentioned here are part of unincorporated San Mateo County. While Half Moon Bay offers a charming downtown area, a lot to do and nice beaches, it will be covered in more detail in a future article. This article is focused on the smaller communities along this stretch of coastline.


Pescadero has lovely unspoiled beaches and a charming town. Stop at Pescadero or Pomponio Beaches on your drive South. The beaches are beautiful and usually uncrowded. This is a nice place for a photo opportunity. Go East to the town of Pescadero, a one-block town, nestled between redwood forests and pristine beaches. Originally a stagecoach ride from San Francisco, Pescadero was a fashionable country resort.

You should not miss Duarte's Tavern a fixture in the community since 1894. The family's fourth generation are currently running this restaurant and bar. The artichoke and the green chili soups are outstanding. For a tasty treat, order half and half. The crab melt sandwich is to-die-for. Leave room for dessert because their home-baked pies are great!

Visit the historic Pescadero Country Store for a collection of interesting merchandise or stroll down Old Stage Road to visit the small shops selling handcrafted goods. There are also some lodging choices if you decide to stay overnight. Today Pescadero is an agricultural hub growing artichokes, olallieberries and producing goat cheese and artisan bread. Stop in at Harley Farms for their goat cheese. They offer farm tours, farm dinners and a shop to buy their products. They are open year-round for farm and dairy tours, cheesemaking classes, and events in their restored hayloft.


There are several other small towns heading back to the Bay Area via La Honda and San Gregorio. They both were stage-coach stops so have fancy general stores and a few restaurants to choose from. This route is popular with motorcycle and bicycle riders on these windy roads. It is the perfect road for a small convertible on a sunny day.


Woodside is another charming town, although not as rustic as the ones we've visited. There is Robert's Market, a gourmet market and an excellent place to put together the perfect picnic. And there is Buck's, a famous dining establishment for Silicon Valley, a local fixture. The food is good and the environment is wacky. Over the years they have served President's and Kings, movie stars and murderers. On the weekends you will see bicyclists and motorcycles gathering for their rides.


Landis Shores Oceanfront Inn, offers eight oceanfront rooms with spectacular views and private decks and all of the luxuries you might expect: marble bath tubs, fireplaces and whirlpool tubs, stone floors with radiant heat, and fluffy robes. They also have serve full gourmet breakfasts and afternoon appetizers with premium wine; located on Miramar Beach.

Cypress Inn on Miramar Beach offers 18 guestrooms with dramatic ocean views, fireplaces and spa tubs in most units. They are located a short walk (5 minutes) from Miramar Beach Restaurant, beaches and trails.

Cameron's Inn has a pub on the property and three bed and beverage rooms, no breakfast is provided, located on the Cabrillo Hiway. They also have a red double decker tourist bus parked out front.

Inn at Maverick's, located in Princeton has six rooms with harbor views and the sound of the foghorn to lull you to sleep.

Best Western Half Moon Bay Lodge, is located next to the golf links and minutes from downtown Half Moon Bay.

I hope you enjoyed your trip to San Mateo County's beautiful coastal towns. Tune in next time for a trip to Half Moon Bay.

Don't miss the slideshow for more photos of San Mateo County's beautiful coastside. Click on "View Slideshow at the conclusion of the article.

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  • Dig 5 years ago

    This article is good .I love people who like Spanish culture.

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