I love day trips. What’s not to love?
You get all the benefits of a road trip — time on the open road, seeing home fade away in your rear view mirror, and watching new scenery appear outside your car window — but without any of the hassles of a real trip. I also love big adventure-filled travel and trip planning, but sometimes it’s just nice to set out on a Saturday morning for somewhere new with minimal packing and virtually no planning required.
Unless you’re a city dweller without a car, then a bit more planning is needed. Since I’m a city dweller with a car, I’m always looking for a reason to use it and to justify my expensive parking space. ($300/month!)
Pescedaro, a popular stop on the stagecoach road between Santa Cruz and San Francisco from the days before Highway 1 snaked along the California coast, is one of my favorite escapes from the city.
It’s about an hour south of San Francisco. Just follow the winding curves of the Highway 1 south, out of the city and past Half Moon Bay, then when you see rocky Pescadero State Beach, turn left. You can’t miss it.
It’s a tiny little town where there’s no reason to rush or hurry. You can feel your heart rate slow as you pull into town. That’s a good thing because you’re probably going to have to wait for a table at the famous Duarte’s Tavern. I assure you it’s well worth the wait.
Duarte’s has been in business here since 1894, and they estimate that they serve an average of 13,000 people a month. They’re known for their artichoke soup and their fresh pies. Get your artichoke soup swirled with green chile soup to add a little kick, and don’t miss the olallieberry pie for something you won’t find elsewhere.
Olallieberries are a cross between a blackberry, loganberry and youngberry that originated in Oregon, but they thrive here and have become something of a California tradition.
Take your time walking through the few shops in town or pick up some coffee at Downtown Local across the street while you wait. Arcangeli Grocery (also confusingly called Norm’s Market) sells amazing olallieberry jam and artichoke-studded bread that has inspired hundreds of passionate Yelp reviews.
You can also buy the bread half baked to bring back and make yourself at home. I haven’t tried the artichoke bread yet, but I plan to on my next trip to (or anywhere near) Pescadero.
Before heading out of town to work off your lunch, make a quick stop to see the goats at Harley Farms, a restored 1910 dairy farm. They do regular farm and dairy tours, or you can just drop by to visit and pick up some cheese from their shop. I’m partial to the fromage blanc.
You can easily spend the rest of the day enjoying one of the many beautiful state parks or beaches in the area, and maybe even wait long enough to watch the sunset over the Pacific before heading north up Highway 1, back to San Francisco.
It’s easy to come back to the city at the end of the day refreshed and invigorated. Pie, goat cheese, beaches and mountains! You can see why Pescadero is one my favorite day trips.