There are many amazing things to do in Pescadero for a solo weekend or family trip. A charming hamlet packed with some secluded beaches and state parks with lovely hiking paths, Pescadero is one of the best beach towns in California.
Located in San Mateo County towards the North of Santa Cruz and South of Half Moon Bay, the beautiful city of Pescadero derives its name from the Spanish word for a fishmonger.
If you look at the map of Pescadero Ca, it is merely a little dot on the vast Northern Californian coastal towns stretch. You might be surprised by the fact that only about 600 people are living in this quaint village.
Pescadero offers everything for art and history buffs, cyclists, motorists, hiking and birding enthusiasts and wine lovers.
If you are planning a road trip or a drive along Highway 1, spend at least a weekend in Pescadero with loads of activities and gorgeous views of the undulating Pescadero wetlands on one side and the spectacular Pacific Ocean on the other.
Check out the list of the best things to do in Pescadero for a fun-filled itinerary.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN PESCADERO
VISIT HARLEY FARMS
The 102-year-old Harley Farms, located a few meters from Stage Road and about 2.5 miles long, is known for its dairy farms and cute little goats and is one of the top things to do in Pescadero.
Play with lovely Alpine goats and donkeys on the overgrown farmlands enjoying the aroma of the renowned goat cheese in Pescadero.
Savour the crisp garlic bread alongside the homemade goat cheese sprinkled with edible flowers, overlooking the beautiful garden and a gorgeous pond with picnic benches.
Take a two-hour walking tour in the Harley Farms Hayloft, which costs $20 per person, to learn about the cheese-making process and to play and curl up the cute baby goats.
Baby goat season usually lasts from February to May every year, so time your visit right to play with alpine cuties.
There is also a “cheesy” shop on the farm where you can indulge in various varieties of whipped goat cheese, including Monet Chevre and Honey Lavender Chevre, which are locals’ favourites.
Try their other homemade products like jellies, jams, chocolates, honey and vinegar. The shop also sells body products made from goat milk.
Check the farm’s website for a cosy dinner in the Hayloft area, which is usually seasonal. The Hayloft area is also used to host private parties.
You can easily spend a day in Harley farms, and I recommend adding this place to your Pescadero itinerary.
The farm can be visited daily anytime between 11 AM and 5 PM.
TASTE WINE AT PESCADERO WINERY
One of the fun things to do in Pescadero, especially if you are a wine lover, is to try the famous Pinot wine tasting at Harley Farms.
The wine tasting happens in their rustic cabin setting with a lovely view of baby goats and lush farmlands. You can also opt for a tasting on the picnic benches around the pond.
The wine here is sourced from Sante Arcangeli Winery, located an hour away from Pescadero in the Corralitos region of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Enjoy a six-flight of wine tasting along with locally produced honey, chilli salted caramels, and the sampler, a perfect fit for the red wine.
Wine tasting costs $25 per person, and I recommend reserving a seat since this happens only on weekends from Friday to Sunday between 11 AM and 4 PM.
VISIT THE HISTORIC PIGEON POINT LIGHTHOUSE
One of the best things to do in Pescadero is to visit the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a historic landmark standing on the shores of the Pacific coast.
Built in 1872, the 115 feet tall lighthouse was once a guiding path for ships that sailed across the rugged coast of San Mateo County.
The lighthouse has five wicked oil lamp and a first-order Fresnel lens which weighs approximately 2000 pounds.
Walk on the Olallieberry pie and admire the lighthouse, an iconic landmark that has endured many earthquakes.
This tallest lighthouse on the West Coast, one of the most photographed landmarks in the United States, is visible from both the North and South, and its silhouette version during Sunset is one of its kind.
Get a pair of binoculars to see the migrating grey and humpback whales during their migration season. You can wave at the seals lazing on the shores.
Explore the rest of the Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park by walking on the paved paths. Visit the Fog signal building to learn about the history and significance of the Lighthouse and the Fresnel lens.
Picnic tables are available in the park. Admission & Parking is Free. Try to visit during the early hours, as the parking spots are limited outside the lighthouse.
You can visit the lighthouse from Thursday to Monday from 10 AM to 4 PM.
CHECK OUT DOWNTOWN PESCADERO
One of the top things to do in Pescadero is to check out the Downtown. With a tiny population, you can find most of the town’s people roaming downtown on weekends.
Cosy chic boutique shops, eateries and antique stores are located in a retro setup on one single street, Stage Road. Walk along the downtown to admire the historical buildings.
Visit the Slow Coast, a cute little shop with locally produced products such as clothing and Jewellery. It is always a nice gesture to support local businesses. Isn’t it?
Don’t miss other local’s favourite wine-tasting shops. Pescadero country stores and old churches are some other popular spots downtown.
SHOP CUTE LOCAL ITEMS
Made in Pescadero
Check out the Made in Pescadero gallery, located at 216 Stage road, which features custom-made furniture and promotes innovative artworks created by local artisans and craftsmen.
If you want to transform your living room or bedroom with this distinctive and artistic furniture and artefacts, I suggest visiting this place.
You will be impressed by the collection of different furniture styles at this place, including Shaker styles, Craftsman, Mission Styles and Arts and Crafts.
Visit the Gallery from Monday to Friday between 11 AM to 6 PM.
Check out the Luna Sea, another famous shop downtown designed in an old Victorian home style that sells handicrafts.
This 15-year-old gallery is one of the unique places in Pescadero, located an hour away from San Francisco. You will be greeted by cute sculptures, pebbles, paintings and artistic decor created by local craftsmen.
If you want to shop for souvenirs like handmade greeting cards, vintage lamps, custom designed jewellery, stop by this lovely place, one of the cool things to do in Pescadero.
San Gregorio General Store
Located at a distance of 10-minutes from Pescadero, San Gregorio General Store is a classic country bar and store established in 1889.
The building’s antique exterior, replete with enormous arch windows and a quaint post office on one of the corners, is both a charming tourist destination and a cosy place for locals to unwind on the weekends.
The store has a book section, vintage oil lamps, cast-iron cooking equipment, and classic raccoon traps.
Enjoy the live music concerts on weekends in the bar, the store’s main attraction, sipping your favourite drink and admiring the beautiful city via the giant windows.
Check out the deli store in the back kitchen for some amazing sandwiches.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN PESCADERO FOR OUTDOOR LOVERS
EXPLORE BUTANO STATE PARK
For a perfect Pescadero day trip, visit Butano State Park, located at 1500 Cloverdale Road,4.5 miles Southeast of Pescadero.
Admire the massive coastal Californian homegrown redwoods as you stroll through one of California’s less-known redwood state parks.
This place is a haven for hiking lovers as around 40 hiking trails run through stunning vistas of water streams, wetlands and old-growth redwoods, making it one of the best things to do in Pescadero.
Beginner hikers can try Little Butano Creek, a 2.5-mile loop hike to explore the redwoods. Hike the Six Bridges Trail to enjoy the beautiful views of the six bridges amidst the redwoods.
Try hiking the Goat Hill Trail if you want more adventure. This inclined 6-mile loop hike, combined with Six Bridges Trail, meanders through Cypress trees and redwoods and is one of the exciting Pescadero things to do.
Enjoy a picnic lunch in Butano State Park with friends and family.
WATCH ELEPHANT SEALS AT ANO NUEVO STATE PARK
Visit the Ano Nuevo State Park, one of the largest elephant seal breeding colonies globally and is famous for its expansive dunes and marshlands.
The pleasant weather, coastal prairies and marshes and the ideal ocean bluffs make the park a comfortable breeding site for elephant seals and the park hosts around 10,000 elephant seals annually.
Somewhere around November is the breeding season for seals, and as the months pass by, you will see little pups rolling on the shores. You can witness this beautiful scene until around early March, making this place one of the top things to do in Pescadero.
I recommend timing your visit right and taking a guided walking tour to learn about these seals since you cannot walk down towards the seal on your own. Book the tour ahead of your visit since this is popular.
Wear hiking shoes since you will have to take a three-four mile hike to see the lovely seals and get a close-up view of the little ones. The popular hiking trail is the Ano Nuevo Point Trail. Obtain a permit if you visit the park between April and November.
Check out the 19th-century lighthouse and even the historic keeper’s house, now a natural habitat for birds and sea lions.
If you have spare time, try adding the nearby Cove Beach adjacent to the park.
The park is open between 8:30 AM and 3:30 PM. You will have to buy an admission ticket which costs $10.
HIKE AT BIG BASIN REDWOODS
Hiking enthusiasts can visit the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, an hour away from Pescadero.
The park is known for its giant old-growth redwoods, aged around 1000 to 1800 years and 50 feet tall and about 80 hiking trails run between these redwoods.
Plan a day trip from Pescadero and admire the fantastic views of California redwoods, one of the top things to do in Pescadero Ca.
Explore cascading waterfalls amidst the redwoods and spot various colourful birds hiking the trails. You will be rewarded with stunning views of the pacific at the end of the tracks.
One of the popular hiking trails is the Redwood Loop trail, a 1.2-mile loop hike which will take you through some of the dense and most giant redwoods in the park.
Check out the history and nature centre if you have spare time. You can go through the park website for more information on the trails.
Visit the park on any day between 6 AM and Sunset.
DRIVE ALONG HIGHWAY 1
One of the best things to do in Pescadero is to hit Highway 1, among the most iconic roads across the globe. You will never get tired of the stunning views of the Pacific as you go on this road.
You will pass by famous locations, including Big Sur, San Franciso and San Luis Obispo.
Drive on this beautiful road for hours and feel the ocean breeze as you move along, falling in love with the journey.
Either go North towards Pacifica or South towards Santa Cruz; you will be amazed by the gorgeous ocean vistas.
ENJOY BIRDWATCHING AT PESCADERO MARSH NATURAL PRESERVE
Visit the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve on Highway 1 along the Pescadero State Beach, especially if you are a birding enthusiast.
The 500-acre massive preserve and a protected wetland is home to diverse bird species, including snowy egrets, blue herons and northern harriers, making it one of the fun things to do in Pescadero.
Time your visit in the early mornings for the best preserve experience. You can watch colourful migratory birds when you visit the place during early spring.
Walk on any of the four paved designated trails by opting for a guided walking tour amidst the lush vegetation and admire the stunning vistas. The tours occur on the first and third Sunday of every month. So ensure to book it in advance.
Visit the Preserve any day between 8 AM to Sunset. You can park your vehicle at the Central Pescadero Beach Parking lot by paying a nominal fee of $8.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN PESCADERO
STAY OVERNIGHT AT A LIGHTHOUSE
One of the unique things to do in Pescadero is to stay in the iconic Piegon Point Lighthouse State Park.
Make your evening memorable by staying in the HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse hostel, one of the lovely Pescadero hotels with stunning ocean vistas.
The green-certified hostel has three vacation rentals. Book the entire villa for your group if you are in a large group.
Spend your lovely evening gazing at the stars and appreciate the beautiful lighthouse views while soaking in the hot tub placed on the edge with an infinity pool view.
Take a walk on the boardwalk; you might spot grey whales playing to the tunes of the ocean.
RELAX AT BEAN HOLLOW STATE BEACH
One of the relaxing things to do in Pescadero is to visit Bean Hollow State Beach, located along Highway 1 and a few miles from Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
Bean Hollow State beach is divided into two exclusive beaches, the Northern and the Southern, which contrast and are connected by a one-mile hiking trail along the craggy cliffs.
The Northern beach, Pebble beach, is known for its unique multi-coloured pebbles on the shore. It is atypical compared to other California beaches, usually carpeted with white sandy shores.
Explore the pebble beach during low tides; you may find crabs, sea urchins and other marine friends crawling on the shore.
The Southern beach is called Arroyo De Los Frijoles Beach, known for its secluded cove and calm. In contrast to Pebble Beach, this beach features rust-brown sands flanked by enormous rocks.
You may unwind on the sands without worrying about prying eyes and enjoy the pleasant Pescadero weather.
Hike along the bluffs to admire the beautiful ocean vistas from the top and appreciate the gorgeous honeycomb rocks and the crashing waves that surge through the meandering passageways between the rocks.
Entry to the beach is free, and you can visit anytime between 8 AM and Sunset. Also, there are two parking lots at this beach.
PICNIC AT PESCADERO STATE BEACH
One of the unique attractions in Pescadero is the Pescadero State Beach, located near San Mateo County.
The beach is known for its one-mile white sandy patch, rocky coves, a rock arch, dunes and wetlands alongside the white powdery sand, making it one of the best things to do in Pescadero.
Pescadero State Beach is broader than Bean Hollow State Beach and has two sections. The main section is the North beach which has more extensive dunes and white sands.
The other section of the beach is the South beach which has rocky coves and smaller dunes.
Walk on the clean sand admiring the stunning views of the Pacific and the sounds of waves crashing through the rugged coastline.
Though the beach always has constant winds, you can enjoy swimming, surfing, fishing and hiking along the bluff trails. You might spot grey whales if you visit the beach around wintertime.
Pescadero State Beach has three well-maintained parking lots. The Southern and Central Parking lots are free; you must pay $8 if you use the Northern parking lot.
Visit the beach between 8 AM and Sunset, and try to visit the beach early to snag a spot under the rocky coves.
CHECK OUT SAN GREGORIO STATE BEACH
One of the fun things to do in Pescadero is to visit the San Gregorio State Beach, located at the intersection of Highway 84 and Highway 1, towards the North of the city.
The powdery sandy stretch and the rocky cove spanning a few miles create a perfect ambience for a lovely walk on the beach.
Drop your swimsuits and unwind on the clean sand on the North end of the beach, as San Gregorio State Beach is one of the most beautiful nude beaches in California.
Though the weather is a bit chilly here, it is still one of the local’s favourite beaches in the summer. Try Surfing, a popular activity on this beach.
There are picnic tables and restrooms next to the parking lot, but the tables are generally unoccupied because of the frigid weather. Dogs aren’t allowed on this beach.
Visit the beach between 8 AM to Sunset and pay a nominal fee for the parking lot.
DINE AT ARCANGELI GROCERY
Experience one of the oldest dining at Arcangeli Grocery Co., recognised as the Norms Market, a family-run grocery store and a bakery which dates back to 1929.
The store has retained much of its heritage furniture and is known for its popular deli products. It is one of the local’s favourites, and people exclusively flock to this place from across the globe to try the Artichoke Garlic herb bread.
Savour the aromatic bread perfectly blended with the right proportions of Garlic and herbs and a layer of tender artichoke at the centre. Don’t miss trying the other selections of Italian-style bread from the counter.
Try their mouth-watering Godfather sandwich, another popular deli dish at the store, and a list of other speciality sandwiches.
You can even go for a customized sandwich with cheese, jams and dipping sauces at these cosy restaurants in Pescadero.
Arcangeli Grocery Co is also famous for its variety of desserts, cookies, gourmet condiments, locally made cheese and wines, exclusively available at their cosy Deli counter.
Visit the place anytime between 11 AM and 5 PM. Note that the store is closed on Tuesdays.
VISIT PIE RANCH
Are you looking for a charming picnic location in Pescadero? Visit the pie-shaped Pie Ranch on 2080 Cabrillo Highway, which focuses on sustainable living and organic farming.
Pie ranch is known for its variety of seasonal pies with flavours like apple, strawberry rhubarb, peach, summer berry and lemon buttermilk. Try their other organic products, such as honey, jams, soaps and hand-crafted ceramics.
Relish a picnic lunch on the cosy outdoor picnic tables overlooking the lush farmlands, savouring the freshly baked pies and locally brewed coffee, one of the fun things to do in Pescadero. Enjoy the dinner parties and barn dances.
The ranch usually conducts awareness programmes to educate people about seed-to-table organic farming and food sources.
You can join one of those exciting sessions on the third Saturday of each month. The Ranch also hosts and participates in events catering to social issues.
Visit the Ranch anytime between 10 AM TO 5 PM, except on Tuesday(holiday). The entry fee ranges between $5 to $20 depending on the session you attend, including pottery.
PICK BERRIES AT THE SWANTON BERRY FARM
Head to the Swanton Berry Farm, located on Swanton Road, South of Pescadero and ten miles North of Santa Cruz, a traditional family-run farm and property established in 1860. It is also one of the first unionized organic farms in California.
Rustling in the lush grasslands behind an ageing wooden barn, Swanton Berry Farms is a vibrant place to pick berries and connect with nature, one of the fun things to do in Pescadero California.
Swanton Berry Farms is known for its signature jams, a must-try when you are here. You will notice the “Jam Tastings” hoarding right across the highway, pointing towards this beautiful farm.
Enjoy the board games or take a book and unwind in the Coffee house on the farm as you indulge in their seasonal delicacies, such as chocolate-dipped strawberries and olallieberry cheesecake slices.
Appreciating the weigh-and-pay payment system is a fun thing to do on this farm, especially with kids.
The farm is open on all days, and you can visit between 8 AM and 7 PM.
TRY LOCAL DELICACIES AT DUARTE’S TAVERN
Visit the Duarte’s Tavern, a rustic bar located at the corner of 202 stage road and is one of the classic places in town founded in 1894.
Duarte’s Tavern is one of the best places in Pecasdero, where people of all ages, irrespective of their work profiles, visit and enjoy their evenings with their favourite drink and the Duarte’s Tavern special artichokes.
The place sits in the best corner of the town featuring sloping floors, antique wooden tables and dark wooden walls, narrating how this place was born during prohibition in the United States.
Try the local’s favourite fish and the bloody mary garnished with a pickled green bean. Don’t miss the freshly baked olallieberry pie.
The place is open daily from 7 AM until 9 PM. Check-in early as the place gets crowded in the evenings.
TRY FISH TACOS AT MERCADO & TAQUERIA DE AMIGOS
If you want to try the best taqueria in Pescadero, visit the Mercado & Taqueria De Amigos, located inside a gas station on Creek Road, one of the cool things to do in Pescadero.
Try the horchata, shrimp burritos, complimentary chips and salsa, and famous fish tacos. Since the area usually is busy, you might have to wait in a long line.
Pick your favourite drink from the adjacent beverage counter and soak in the mouth-watering aroma of the tacos as you wait in line for your turn.
Mercado & Taqueria De Amigos will be open between 9 AM and 9 PM. The price of tacos ranges between $7 to $12.
WHERE TO STAY IN PESCADERO?
MAP OF THINGS TO DO IN PESCADERO
TOP TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES
Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Jet Radar, Kiwi, or 12go.Asia (for Asia planning). Book and fly mid-week, taking red-eyes flights or those in the early mornings for better deals and lower prices. Avoid check-in bags on a budget airline.
Booking Trains: The best websites for booking trains anywhere in Europe are Rail Europe and TrainLine. Both are easy to manage online and track your journeys.
Booking Cars: For the best prices and easy handling of renting a car for road trips and day trips, I’d recommend Discover Cars or Rental Cars, available throughout the world.
Accommodations: I typically use HotelsCombined or Booking.com to book hotels. There are special getaway deals with amazing discounts(over 50%!) for this year on Booking.com, and you can find them here.
I use Hostelworld and Agoda to book hostels as the deposit is low, easy change/cancellation is available and reviews are excellent on both. Depending on the destination, I love staying in VRBOs/homestays.
Travel Insurance: No matter whether it is a short trip or longer trips abroad, I strongly recommend buying travel insurance for international trips. I recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance.
Tours: Being a solo traveler, one of the best ways to optimize my time, budget, and super importantly, meet amazing people from all over the world is by joining tours, especially food tours, walking tours, day trips, culture, and history tours.
You will get a local’s perspective, the best opportunities to experience places and people closely. I book using GetYourGuide, Klook, Viator, and Voyagin.
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