There are so many amazing things to do in Pescadero, California! This small coastal town has so much to offer and makes for the perfect day trip in northern California. Find out the top 18 things to in do Pescadero and everything you need to know before your visit.
Pescadero is a hidden gem in the Bay Area! If this is your first time visiting, I am telling you now it will not be your last. As an East Bay resident now for over five years, I can’t believe it took us this long to finally visit the adorable and charming town of Pescadero, California.
Where is Pescadero, Ca
Pescadero is located off Highway 1 on the northern California coast in San Mateo County, about an hour south of San Francisco and north of Santa Cruz. Pescadero can easily be planned as a day trip from San Francisco or a great stop during a Pacific Coast Highway road trip.
18 Amazing Things to do Pescadero, CA
1. Harley Farms
One of our favorite things to do in Pescadero was to visit the local goat dairy farm, Harley Farms. Harley Farms welcomes visitors to stop in and say hi to the farm’s goats and donkeys, sit down for a picnic around the pond, or browse their farm shop for some homemade local products.
Before we visited Harley Farms, they had a surprise birth of two baby goats! They were so cute snuggled up next to each other. If you want the opportunity to hold the baby goats, you can book a private tour with Harley Farms from their website.
At their shop, they sell delicious homemade goat cheeses, farm honey, jams, jellies, vinegar, and an assortment of natural bath and body products made with goat milk.
We couldn’t resist buying their 2012 award-winning goat cheese, Wildflower Monet. The cheese is beautiful, never thought I would ever say that about cheese! The whipped goat cheese has edible flowers sprinkled on top.
Visiting Harley Farms Tips:
- Address: 205 North Street Pescadero 94060
- Hours: Open every day 11 am to 4 pm
- You do not need reservations to pop in and visit the donkey and goats from over the fence.
- Dogs are welcome by the pond and picnic area but are not allowed inside the farm gates.
2. Pescadero Winery
Enjoy a 6 flight wine tasting paired with Harley Farm’s award-winning goat cheese at Sante Arcangeli Winery.
The wine tasting takes place in a rustic barn at Harley Farms. You have the option of either sitting in their open barn and loft or at one of their outdoor picnic tables.
The owner and winemaker at Sante Arcangeli has a love for Pinots, which I can totally relate to. The wines were light and very easy to drink. The vineyards and grapes they harvest are just about an hour away from Pescadero in the Corralitos region of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
The cheeses were so creamy and fresh, my favorite was the Fromage Blanc. The goat cheese was paired with a different wine from the tasting to enhance the flavors. The sampler also included some local honey from the farm and chili salted caramels that matched perfectly with the red wine.
After you cuddle some of the baby goats at Harley Farms, walk on over to Sante Arcangeli for some delicious wine and yummy cheese!
Visiting Sante Arcangeli Winery Tips:
- Address: 205 North Street Pescadero 94060
- Wine Tastings are on Friday through Sunday between (11:00 – 4:00)
- Reservations are encouraged
- Wine tasting is $25 per person
- Wine tasting with cheese pairing is $60 Dogs are allowed at the wine tasting
3. Pigeon Point Lighthouse
A historic California landmark, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is a must-visit and top thing to do in Pescadero. It was built in 1872 to guide ships along the rocky reefs of the San Mateo coast.
The light station sits perched on a cliff on the picturesque Pacific coast. While you are on the watch deck, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for whales and other marine life. Gray whales and humpback whales are the most commonly spotted at Pigeon Point.
Along with the lighthouse, you can explore the Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park, where you can find paths and boardwalks that surround the lighthouse and bluffs.
Take a visit inside the historic fog signal building to learn more about the history of Pigeon Point and see the original Fresnel lens.
Visiting Pigeon Point Lighthouse Tips:
- Address: 210 Pigeon Point Road Highway 1 Pescadero, CA 94060
- Park Hours: 8 am to sunset
- Admission & Parking is Free. Parking spots outside of the lighthouse are limited.
- Dogs are not allowed on the lighthouse grounds. However, you can take them to Pigeon Point Beach, which is next to the main parking lot.
- Picnic tables are available onsite.
4. Stay the Night at a Lighthouse!
Have the unique experience of staying at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse with spectacular oceanfront views.
The HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse is a Hostel and consists of three vacation rentals that can accommodate up to 15 people. You have the option to book the entire vacation rental with a large group, or if you are a couple, you can book a single room and share the other facilities.
The best part about staying at The Lighthouse Hostel is their outdoor hot tub with ocean views! The hot tub sits at the edge of the bluff with panoramic views of the pacific. Only guests are allowed to use it and it is in a private location away from people visiting the lighthouse.
Visiting HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel Tips:
- Address: 210 Pigeon Point Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060
- The hostel is on the property of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse State Park
- Pets are not permitted
5. Bean Hollow State Beach
Along Highway 1 and just a short drive from Pigeon Point Lighthouse, you will find Bean Hollow State Beach. Bean Hollow consists of two separate beaches connected by a 1-mile hiking trail along the bluffs.
The northern beach, is also known as Pebble Beach. It is a little cove covered with multi-colored pebbles, which is out of the ordinary of California’s typical white sandy beaches. At low tide, you can explore the tide pools and look for sea urchins, starfish, crabs, and sea anemones.
The southern beach at Bean Hollow, also known as Arroyo De Los Frijoles Beach, has a rust-brown sandy beach. It’s a secluded cove that is bordered by large smooth rocks. You’ll have plenty of space to stretch out on a blanket with a book and relax in the warm sun.
To the left side of the beach, there is a short hiking trail that goes up to the bluffs. Once you reach the top, you will have birds-eye views of the beach and coastline.
Walk along the narrow bluff trail and venture down to the flat area on the rocks. You can sit back and admire your surroundings of honeycomb rocks and the crashing waves rushing between the narrow passageways of the weathered rock.
The giant waves pounding against the slabs of rock reminded us of the well-known Thunder Hole from Acadia National Park.
Bean Hollow State Beach is the only dog friendly beach in Pescadero. If you plan on bringing your dog with you to the California coast, you can find stunning dog-friendly beaches in Half Moon Bay and Pacifica.
Visiting Bean Hollow State Beach Tips:
- Address: 11000 Cabrillo Hwy. Pescadero, CA 94060.
- Park Hours: 8 am to sunset
- Admission & Parking: Free, there are two parking lots at Bean Hollow
- Dogs are allowed on the beach
6. Pescadero State Beach:
There are many fun things to do at Pescadero State Beach! It is one of the more popular beaches to visit in San Mateo County, with a one-mile stretch of white sandy beach. A great spot to take in the fresh air and walk along the water to admire the rugged California coastline.
Pescadero State Beach has rocky coves, a rock arch, dunes, and wetlands at the Pescadero Marsh. Other activities you can partake in at Pescadero State Beach include swimming, surfing, fishing, hiking, and nature exploring.
There are two beaches and three separate parking lots for Pescadero State Beach. The main beach is the north beach, a sandy beach with larges dunes. Or you can explore Pescadero’s south beach and discover the rocky coves.
To find the famous rock arch at Pescadero State Beach, you can park at the central parking area atop the bluffs and walk down to the beach to get a close-up look.
Visiting Pescadero State Beach Tips:
- Address: Pescadero State Beach, located on Highway 1.
- Park Hours: 8 am to sunset
- Admission & Parking: There are three separate parking areas for Pescadero State Beach. The southern and central parking lots are free. The northern parking lot has a fee of $8
- Dogs are not allowed at Pescadero State Beach
7. Other Beaches to Visit in Pescadero
There is a lineup of numerous beaches that are dotted along the San Mateo coast in Pescadero, CA. We found that most of the beaches look pretty similar to one another. However, we thought Bean Hollow State Beach to be the most unique with its pebble beach and bluff trail.
Grab a picnic and Relax at One of the Beautiful State Beaches in Pescadero:
- Pescadero Point Beach
- Pomponio State Beach
- San Gregorio State Beach
8. Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve
With 500 acres of wetlands and home to a variety of birds, Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve is the perfect spot to go bird watching and explore nature! You can find free guided marsh tours on the first and third Sunday of every month.
The Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve is conveniently located across the highway from Pescadero State Beach.
Visiting Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve Tips:
- Address: Located on Highway 1, across from Pescadero State Beach
- Park Hours: 8 am to sunset
- Admission & Parking: Central Pescadero Beach Parking lot. Parking is $8
Things to do Downtown Pescadero
9. Arcangeli Grocery
A visit to Arcangeli Grocery is a must thing to do in Pescadero. It is where you can find the Pescadero bread! People will make the drive alone to Pescadero to get their hands on some of Arcangeli’s famously delicious garlic herb and artichoke bread.
Arcangeli, also known as Norms Market, serves fresh and warm loaves of their garlic herb and artichoke bread behind the counter. Once we purchased our loaf, I could not resist immediately breaking apart large chunks of the fluffy bread and shoving them into my mouth as we walked downtown.
The bread had the perfect amount of herbs and garlic. When you get to the center of the loaf, that is where you will find the layers of tender artichoke.
The bread was so good, that we finished the entire loaf within 24 hours, and you know what. I’m not even ashamed about it; it was that good!
Inside Arcangeli Grocery, there is also a deli, where you can order from a list of specialty sandwiches or create your own. They also have all of the fixings for your own picnic with a selection of cheese, meats, wine, dippings oils, and jams.
Or you can do what we did, and buy some fresh produce and steak for your dinner that night. And of course, don’t forget dessert! They have an assortment of pies and giant cookies!
Visiting Arcangeli Grocery Tips:
- Address: 287 Stage Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060
- Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Closed on Tuesdays
10. Stroll Along Downtown Pescadero
The downtown area of Pescadero is quaint, and everything you are looking for is on one main street, which is Stage Road. The bustling street is lined with eateries, small shops, a market, and antiques.
Pop into one of the many local shops. Such as Luna Sea, which is a handcrafter artisan gallery in an old Victorian home. Or Slow Coast, a little shop that offers locally sourced products from jewelry to clothing.
11. Coffee in Pescadero
After a busy morning exploring Pescadero, grab a pick me up at Downtown Local. The hot spot in town for Sightglass coffee.
While you wait for your cup o joe, you must walk around and check out this one-of-a-kind coffee shop. Downtown Local is decorated from wall to ceiling in vintage items, and most of them are for sale. They have a lot of interesting and neat finds, including vintage books, vinyls, automobilia magazines, vintage toys, and other items.
Best Restaurants in Pescadero
12. The Best Gas Station Tacos You’ll Ever Have
Best tacos and gas stations typically are not used in the same sentence. However, Mercado & Taqueria De Amigos break those stereotypes and serve the best authentic Mexican food in town!
The Mercado & Taqueria De Amigos is great for a quick bite that won’t break the bank. They also have a charming little outdoor area with strung-up twinkle lights where you can sit down and eat your tacos.
13. The Famous Duartes
If you ask anyone where to eat in Pescadero, they are most likely going to respond and say Duartes Tavern. That is because Duartes has been around and played a significant part in the town of Pescadero since 1894.
This local tavern is a fourth-generation family-owned business, full of many traditions and history. They are famously known for their cream of artichoke soup and olallieberry pie.
We, of course, had to see for ourselves if Duartes food lived up to all of the hype. Since artichokes sounded like their specialty, we ordered the chilled artichoke appetizer, the artichoke soup, and snapper and chips.
Everything was delicious! My favorite, of course, was the artichoke soup that came with a couple of slices of warm sourdough bread. Perfect for dipping in your creamy cup of soup! To add a little spice to your artichoke soup, they recommend mixing in ½ of their green chile soup.
Our snapper and chips were nice and crispy on the outside, with succulent and juicy fish on the inside. After our meal, we could easily see why Duartes has been a local favorite for so many years.
Best Things to do Near Pescadero
14. Visit Half Moon Bay
You are just a stone’s throw away from Half Moon Bay! Pescadero is 14 miles south of Half Moon Bay and could easily be added to your day trip to Pescadero.
Half Moon Bay is another lovely area on the northern California coast, known for its picturesque views and small-town charm.
Grab a delicious buttery lobster roll and some fresh seafood from Sams Chowder House, an ocean-front restaurant in Half Moon Bay.
Or stay the night at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay. A luxurious hotel that sits atop a bluff and offers impressive views of the pacific ocean and coastline.
15. Ano Nuevo State Park
At Ano Nuevo State Park you can find one of the largest elephant seal breeding colonies in the world. A 3-4 mile hike will bring you up close to view the beach covered with massive northern elephant seals.
To view the elephant seals, you will either need a permit between the months of April to November or reserve a guided walk from December to March. If you have more time, hike along the ocean bluffs and
explore one of the many trails at the State Park, such as the Ano Nuevo Point Trail.
Visiting Ano Nuevo State Park Tips:
- Address: 1 New Years Creek Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060
- Hours: Natural Preserve (to see the seals) 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Trails are open until sunset
- Admission & Parking: $10 per a car
- Wear hiking shoes and layered clothing when visiting the seals
- Dogs are not permitted nearby natural preserve
- Always check the Ano Nuevo State Park information page before planning your trip
16. Pie Ranch
On your way to visit the elephant seals, make a pit stop at Pie Ranch for some freshly baked pies. Pie Ranch is an organic farm stand on Highway 1 that sells organic produce from their farm, soaps, local honey, jams, books, locally crafted ceramics, and more. Their pie fillings rotate with each season and are baked fresh to perfection every day.
Visiting Pie Ranch Tips:
- Address: 2080 CA-1, Pescadero, CA 94060
- Hours: Weekdays 12 pm to 5 pm & Weekends 10 am to 5 pm. Closed on Tuesdays
Visit the Redwoods: Pescadero Hikes
17. Big Basin Redwoods
Big Basin Redwoods is California’s oldest state park and home to redwood trees that have been around for 1,000 to 1,800 years. Pretty Incredible! These ancient and massive redwood trees stand taller than 50 feet.
Big Basin has more than 80 trails, so you will have plenty of nature to explore. The park also offers many beautiful waterfalls, a variety of birds, views of the Pacific ocean, and a history and nature center.
If you are on limited time, the Redwood Loop trail is a 0.6-mile hike that will lead you to some of the largest redwoods in Big Basin.
Big Basin Redwoods Tips:
- Always check the park website before planning your visit to see trail closures.
- Address: 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 95006
- Hours: 6 am to sunset
- Dogs are allowed in the campsites, picnic areas, and on paved roads. They are not allowed on trails/Rancho Del Oso.
18. Butano State Park
Discover the beauty of California’s coast’s majestic redwood trees. Butano State Park offers 40 trails through redwood trees, canyons, streams, and wetlands.
Butano State Park is the lesser-known redwood state park, so you will find fewer crowds here than visiting Big Basin.
The Little Butano Creek trail is the perfect option for an easy hike to explore the lush redwood forest and running creek. The trail is a 2.5-mile moderately trafficked loop.
Butano State Park Tips:
- Always check the parks website before planning your visit to see trail closures.
- Address: 1500 Cloverdale Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060
- Hours: Sunrise to sunset
- Dogs are allowed in campgrounds and paved areas
Pescadero Hotels: Where to Stay in Pescadero
Pescadero Creek Inn
Book your stay in Pescadero at this adorable country house. The Pescadero Creek Inn is a small and cozy century-old farmhouse with four restored rooms overlooking their beautiful gardens.
The Garden Cottage is their most desirable room, which sleeps 4 people, has a fireplace and a balcony overlooking Pescadero Creek. The Inn is located on Stage Road, a 5-minute walk to downtown Pescadero’s shops and restaurants.
HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel
The Pigeon Point Lighthouse is not your ordinary hostel. The Lighthouse Hostel sits perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and footsteps away from the historic Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
The Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel makes for a unique and one-of-a-kind stay on the California coast. The hostel consists of 4 houses. You can either rent out the entire house or an individual room and share the facilities. Besides this incredible location, the Lighthouse Hostel also has a private hot tub facing the ocean.
Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay
For luxury, epic views, and lots of adventurous activities at your fingertips, book your lodging at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay.
The luxurious hotel sits atop a bluff boasting some of the best views in Half Moon Bay. Us Bay Area locals will stay at the Ritz Carlton just for a relaxing night away on the coast to escape the hustle and bustle from the city.
The Ritz Carlton’s 5-star hotel offers amenities such as a golf course, spa, tennis courts, two restaurants, and an outdoor terrace with oceanfront views, perfect for watching a sunset.
Skip the hotels and experience a night exploring the great outdoors on the California coast. Pescadero is a beautiful location to set up shop with your tent and camping gear. You will experience the best of the forests and redwoods and be a quick drive to the Pacific Ocean.
Butano State Park
The lush forests and massive redwoods at Butano State Park are only 10 minutes from downtown Pescadero. At Butano, you can find over 40 miles of hiking trails, 21 drive-in campsites, 18 walk-in campsites, and 8 backcountry trail campsites.
Butano State Park Camping Tips:
- Restrooms with running water and drinking water
- Dogs are permitted in the campground and on paved developed areas on leash.
- Before you plan your visit, check the Butano State Parks page for updated park restrictions.
Costanoa is definitely for the camper who enjoys a little luxury. This outdoor oasis is the perfect accommodation for a family.
Depending on how much you really want to “rough it” Costanoa has an assortment of lodging options for you to choose from. You can either stay in their lodge or cabins. Or book one of their campsites for tents and RV sites.
This property has it all. At Costanoa, you can also find many things to do to discover nature on the property. Such as horseback riding. Kayaking, hiking trails, mountain biking, and many kid-friendly activities on their monthly calendar. They also have an onsite restaurant, spa, and general store for your convenience.
Frequently Asked Questions
This small town has so much to offer and it is absolutely worth a visit! In Pescadero, you will find fewer crowds and unique things to do, and it’s a stunning location on the northern California coast.
How far is Pescadero from San Francisco?
It is about an hour’s drive to Pescadero and San Francisco with no traffic, which is 47 miles apart. Pescadero is an easy day trip from San Francisco or other Bay Area locations.
How far is Pescadero from Santa Cruz?
Pescadero is 35.5 miles from Santa Cruz, which is about a 45-minute drive.
How far is Pescadero from Half Moon Bay?
Pescadero is 17.8 miles away from Half Moon Bay, which is about a 24-minute drive. You can easily make a stop in Half Moon Bay on your way to or from Pescadero.
Weather in Pescadero
The weather in Pescadero is very pleasant all year long, one of the many things that I love about living in California. With an average of 260 sunny days a year, you can plan your visit to Pescadero and expect to have warm and temperate weather. The yearly temperature averages a comfortable 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
When visiting the California coast, always dress in layers. The days are warm in the sun, but the nights can get pretty chilly.
Where to Next in California
If you are looking for other incredible destinations to visit nearby Pescadero, California:
In Conclusion: Things to Do Pescadero
As you can see, there are so many awesome things to do in Pescadero that just about anybody would enjoy! I hope this list of 18 things to do in Pescadero will help you in planning an adventurous and fun visit to the northern California coast. We really loved our day trip in Pescadero and will absolutely be back again in the future!
California Travel Planning Guide
🗓 What is the best time to visit California? You can’t go wrong when planning your visit to California, it is known for year-round incredible weather ☀️
However, the fall months from September to October, are the best time to avoid crowds and the summer fog, and perfect for spending time on the beach.
🚗 Should I rent a car? My answer is almost always YES! There are some big cities you can get away with not having a car, like San Diego, San Francisco, & LA. But California has so much more to offer outside of the big cities, such as Napa Valley, Monterey, Palm Springs, and Death Valley. It is also an epic location for a road trip!
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🧳 What do I pack for California? Layers are EVERYTHING in California. We have no humidity here, so expect chilly mornings and nights even during the summer months. Always pack a jacket and other layers for your trip.
💸 Budgeting for your trip to California California is an expensive state to travel to, so be prepared to spend a minimum of $100 a night for a budget hotel. The prices of restaurants and activities also add up. And California has the highest gas prices in the country, so shared car prices will be more expensive as well.
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