A Modern Guide to Highway 1

A Modern Guide to Highway 1


You already know about the choice sands just off Highway 1, but there's more to do along the famous stretch of highway between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay than sun your buns. Here's how...

Historic Pigeon Point Lighthouse

As you drive along this panoramic highway, be sure to stop at Pigeon Point Lighthouse for a brisk walk along the cliff side. With a small hostel adjacent, the lighthouse and surrounding area can be toured for free, with great spots for that seascape-photo-op. A popular destination for weddings, this eerily stunning tower overlooks a secluded beach perfect for picnic dates, sans the crowds found at Stinson Beach. Try not to rush your visit, as whales are commonly spotted from this high location. What better way to remember your day along Highway One, than with a whale pic? Historic Pigeon Point Lighthouse210 Pigeon Point Road, Pescadero

Highway One Brewing Company 

Hidden in plain sight directly on the side of Cabrillo Highway, the Highway One Brewing Company offers an eclectic array of small bites alongside their award-winning beers. Residing in the same lot as the Beach House gas station, this humble restaurant and brew house attracts locals as well as neighboring towns with its locally- and seasonally-inspired menu. With small plates like, Spicy Buffalo Bites–cauliflower coated in buffalo sauce and served with house made blue cheese dressing-and Pot Roast Sliders–with horseradish sauce, cheddar cheese, and onion strings on a sweet roll–you’ll be sure to love the combination of down-home classics with fresh and creative ingredients. As for beer tastings, this spot has plenty innovative takes on familiar brews, including the French Mexican War, a crisp French Saison with the subdued spiciness of jalapenos. Located directly across from the beautiful Pacific, Highway One Brewing Co. feels like a breezy coastal getaway, only an hour out of the city. Highway One Brewing Company5720 Cabrillo Hwy, Pescadero

Spanish Town

In search for that perfectly colorful statue to place in your community garden? Or a pop of vibrancy for your blank apartment walls? Spanish Town is a real-life wonderland of rusted dinosaurs, serene water fountains, and whimsical glass figurines. Located off of Route 92, a one-minute off-shoot from Highway One, this fantastical land of handcrafted garden baubles will have you lost in arboretum euphoria. Another great stop for antiquing, art collecting, and weekend window shopping, this camouflaged hall of shops offers pieces for both inside and outside the home. After sighting the T-Rex guarded entrance, be sure to stroll through the water fountain nursery, where the calming sounds of trickling streams and babbling brooks encompass the atmosphere, adding to the meditation-inducing qualities of this quaint off-road hideaway. Housing Fog Dog Studios and Fabbri Statuary, this Half Moon Bay staple plays upon the imagination and the green thumb in all of us. Spanish Town501 San Mateo Road, Half Moon Bay

Duarte’s Tavern 

Tucked away in downtown Pescadero and established in 1894, Duarte’s Tavern holds true to its roots with its catch phrase, “Where friends meet.” If swanky and new is your thing, Duarte’s might be out of your comfort zone. But don’t let that sway you from settling into its cozy atmosphere, and trying one of their signature dishes. With such entrees including the famous Abalone Sandwich, a seafood treat not featured in most restaurants due to its rarity, and Creamy Artichoke Soup, a delicious bisque of local artichoke, it’s no wonder this place has been featured on popular foodie channels. A classic mom and pop spot, don’t forget to finish off a meal with a homemade slice of Olallieberry Pie or Tapioca Pudding, both assured to evoke memories of your time spent at grandma’s. Duarte’s Tavern202 Stage Road, Pescadero

Downtown Local

After you finish up your Olallieberry Pie from Duarte’s, head across the road to Downtown Local for an espresso or an almond milk latte. Newly opened in September 2013, this kitschy cafe combines top-notch coffee with vintage merchandise, including a small old-timey theatre, complete with projector and wooden auditorium seats. Walking into this shop, you’ll find Beatles postcards and handmade coin purses, all aesthetically placed as if to suggest décor rather than purchasable paraphernalia. You’ll just begin thinking, “Hipster Heaven,” when one of the owners, who offers up some fun anecdotes, proves these instincts correct. Tired of the busy city after twenty years of residency, John Betteo and his wife, Nicole Sillapere, decided to move to the coast where they purchased this hidden gem. Longtime fans of Slightglass Coffee in SF, these married co-owners knew that these robust beans would be their tools of the trade for creating a successful cup of joe. Providing a relaxed hangout and trendy trinket shop, Downtown Local also houses the makeshift headquarters for Jack/Knife Outfitters, a California-sourced blue jeans company, founded by loyal patrons, John and Flynn. Whether you’re antique shopping or jonesing for a caffeine fix, Downtown Local has a little something for every weekend-tripping urbanite. Downtown Local—213 Stage Road, Pescadero


Running parallel to the Great Highway, boutique-bespeckled Main Street of Half Moon Bay showcases horse feed stores, old town general grocers, wine shops, art galleries, and the must-see hippie-artist establishment known as Tokenz. With sage and patchouli wafting throughout, this crystal and tie-dyed shop offers up anything and everything for the Wiccan or naturalist within you. Owner Sheila Edwards-May first opened this bewitching shop in 1982 on 2nd and Brannan, moving out to the coast eight years later. Loyal artists, jewelry-makers, and bohemians alike keep this charming shop thriving with their consistent business and intrigue in its ever-changing clothes, jewelry, and new-age knickknacks. Obviously, an Earth-lover herself, Sheila says, “It’s a way to make a living as an artist in sales. I’ve been blessed by the fairies.” Her charm and inquisitive disposition only adds to the whimsy of her gem and hemp-consisting merchandise. With an outlet room chock full of beads of any color, material, shape, and size, this oddly wonderful boutique is a necessity for the creatively inclined. Tokenz524 Main Street, Half Moon Bay

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Although San Francisco has its fair share of high-end hotels, you may feel like a more slowed-down, relaxing location will serve better as you vacation within the lap of luxury. The Ritz-Carlton of HMB offers up four uniquely different restaurants, spas, golf, and other five-star attractions. Situated in the heart of the coastal town, venturing out of this resort will prove worthy as the surrounding area provides breath-taking views, along with small wineries, horseback riding, boutiques, and other touristy treats. The Ritz-Carlton—1 Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay

Barbara’s Fish Trap

As in any successful coastal excursion, there’s a point in which you’ll crave crab legs, calamari, and good ol’ chowdah. Although there’s more than a couple seafood joints from which to choose, deciding on Barbara’s Fish Trap seems the obvious choice. A quirky mustard yellow and red boxy building with the masts of docked sailboats peppering the misty grey harbor behind it, Barbara’s Fish Trap represents nautical eccentricity in the best possible way. With nets, plastic lobsters, and anchors adorning the walls, this seaside shack offers ocean-fresh classics with an ode to enchanting mermaid aesthetics. Providing the popular (and delicious) fish and chips, alongside the dairy-free clam chowder—cooked with potato starch in place of cream—this Highway One attraction only takes cash; keep your pirate booty handy! With old-fashioned beach house windows framing the blue-washed views, this waterfront eatery is nestled in Princeton Landing amongst other popular inns, bars, and boutiques. Barbara’s Fish Trap281 Capistrano Road, Half Moon Bay

The Surf Spot

Just on the outskirts of San Francisco, Pacifica’s seven mile stretch of oceanic views make it perfect for the half-day tourist. Hidden in the parking lot of Sea Bowl, The Surf Spot represents surf culture from around the world, with its classically unique small plates and a backyard patio fit for Kamehameha. Serving up Hawaiian, Indonesian, and other island-inspired entrees and appetizers alongside those home-style dishes mom always made so well, The Surf Spot provides indoor and outdoor full service all year long. In combination with outdoor service, guests are persuaded to enjoy the volleyball court, cabanas, and tiki-style concert bar, all complete with fire pits, torches, and blankets for the colder evenings. With a live band every Saturday and Sunday afternoon and private party availability, this larger-than-life “snack shack” provides upscale dining with the laid back attitude of Jeff Spicoli. Shoes and shirts are a must, but with sprawling grass hills, sand patches, and ocean views, you’ll feel like you’re sunbathing right on Linda Mar Beach. Open earlier on weekends for brunch and live music; the Surf Spot is the go-to place for the long three-cocktail lunch. The Surf Spot4627 Coast Highway, Pacifica

Sea Bowl

After enjoying lively libations and surfer-loved snacks at the Surf Spot, head across the parking lot to Sea Bowl. Literally five minutes away (on foot) from the ocean, this bowling alley fancies itself a notch higher than the rest. With a full service bar, restaurant, billiards room, and an arcade, this seaside bowling alley attracts locals as well as out-of-towners. Breezy and easy, this all-in-one oceanic fun zone is great for first dates, families, and late night shenanigans! Sea Bowl—4625 Coast Highway, Pacifica

Photo credits: Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay courtesy of Ritz-Carlton; remaining photos by Devon Tucker

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