After several fun weekend trips to San Francisco, I found myself planning another trip to the West Coast. However instead of exploring more of San Fran, I decided to visit a nearby city. Although there were plenty of options to choose from like Silicon Valley and Sausalito, Pacifica caught my attention. From hiking trails to breweries and beaches (all things I love), Pacifica had everything I was looking for in a weekend getaway. Only 20 minutes away from San Francisco by car, Pacifica is San Francisco’s beachfront playground. Whether you’re looking for an easy day trip from San Francisco or want to plan an extended stay, here are some of the best things to do in Pacifica, California.
Where is Pacifica?
Pacifica, California is approximately 7 miles from San Francisco and only 20 minutes from the San Francisco Airport. Getting an Uber to/from San Francisco International Airport is quick and easy.
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to visit the San Francisco Bay Area is when the weather is warm and mild between April and May and September to October.
Where to stay?
I stayed at the Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel which is right on Rockaway Beach. The Lighthouse Hotel is within walking distance to several restaurants and cafes, shops and hiking trails like the Pacifica Beach View Park.
Although there were a lot of renovations going on during our stay, the hotel was clean and functional.
Our room was spacious and we had a spectacular view of the ocean. Hearing the roaring waves every day was one of my favorite things about staying so close to the beach. If you decide to stay here, I recommend booking a room with a beachfront view.
Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel also has a small fitness center, swimming pool and parking is free. Overall I had an enjoyable stay and this location is perfect for exploring the local area especially if you don’t have a car.
Lighthouse Hotel Address: 105 Rockaway Beach Avenue, Pacifica, CA (Rockaway Beach)
Things to Do in Pacifica
Breakfast at Breakers
In the mood for crab cake benedict, blueberry pancakes or a tuna melt? Then grab a bite to eat at Breakers.
Run by the father-son duo Steve and Robby Bancroft, Breakers is one of the popular breakfast, brunch and lunch spots in town. A short walk from Rockaway Beach and Lighthouse Hotel, this waterfront restaurant opens 7 days a week from 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Breakers serves dishes ranging from classic American foods to international favorites like crepes, huevos rancheros, and more.
Drink at Devil’s Slide Taproom
If you’re looking for a taproom with a great selection of regional craft beer, ciders and wine, head over to Devil’s Slide Taproom. Run by Shane and Theresa Nolen, Devil’s Slide Taproom offers a variety of quintessential West Coast craft beer, wine and pub grub. With large portions, outdoor seating and surfboards decorating the walls, this is a great spot to grab a drink and hang out.
Fun Fact: The wine list is hand picked by Theresa’s parents who live in the heart of California’s wine country. They personally know most of the vineyard owners and get their wine straight from the source.
Devil’s Slide Tap Room Address: 5560 Pacifica Coast Highway 1, Pacifica, CA
Visit Pacifica Coastside Museum
Home of the original Monterey Jack Cheese recipe, at the historic Little Brown Church, visit the Pacifica Coastside Museum and browse through Pacifica’s rich history. Alternatively, you can go on a free self-guided Pacifica historical walking tour here.
Fun Facts: Over a thousand years ago, Pacifica was the site of a Native-American Ohlone village. It is also the site where Europeans first saw the San Francisco Bay.
Little Brown Church Address: 1850 Francisco Blvd, Pacifica, CA
Hiking Mori Point
Since I love exploring the outdoors, when I found out that behind my hotel I could go on a short Pacifica hike and see sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, I headed for the hills.
Mori Point is a 110-acre park that offers scenic views of the Pacific Ocean. Although the hike isn’t strenuous, there are steep and slippery areas so bring sturdy shoes and a light jacket to keep warm.
As you climb to the top, spot wildflowers, all sorts of shrubs and trees, seabirds overhead and breathe in the fresh air from the ocean as you admire the coastline.
The water here is so powerful. Sometimes it’s blue, sometimes gray, green or even brown. Every day is a little different.Pacifica Beach Coalition
Pacifica State Beach
A scenic way to get to Pacifica State Beach is to take the back roads and walk along the seawall. Here you’ll see lots of yellow coast gum plant which were planted by the Pacifica Beach Coalition volunteer team.
On a sunny day you can even see the Golden Gate Bridge from some of the hilltops.
Helpful Tip: If you plan to visit the beach, pack a sweater. Even in the summer it gets chilly.
Pacifica State Beach is a wide crescent-shaped beach located right off Highway 1. It is home to one of the most beautiful Taco Bell’s in the world. Head to the large patio in the back and watch the surfers ride the waves as you snack on a burrito.
Whether you’re new to surfing or an experienced surfer, Pacifica State Beach is one of the best places to catch some waves. If you want to learn, there are surf schools which offer surf lessons and if you like to people watch, this is a great beach to sit back and relax.
If you’ve visited San Francisco several times and are looking for something new and different, plan a trip to Pacifica, California. Home to lots of open spaces, friendly locals who care deeply about the environment, scenic hiking trails, beaches for surfing and the world’s most beautiful Taco Bell, there’s plenty of memorable things to see in Pacifica.
Have you been to Pacifica? What are your favorite things to do?
Danielle is a travel finance strategist, author, speaker and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27 and has traveled to 26 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her own terms.