An hour south of San Francisco, the relaxed town of Pescadero is an agrarian paradise with a scenic coastline that just won’t quit. Far from the sting of the city's farm-to-fork bromides, you'll delight on actual farms and fork your way through foods harvested from the local land. Plus, there's so much pie! Go now when rain brings vibrant green fields, crisp sea air, and cozy interiors.
Bring your Instagram followers to their knees at this wildly scenic patch of land. The weathered lighthouse is actually closed to the public, but you’ll hardly notice as you spy whales from wood-planked walkways that jut out over the churning sea.
You know you’re in Northern California when a roadside sign prompts you to Slow for Kale, as the one at Pie Ranch does. Despite the Homer Simpson fantasy name, the working ranch and farm stand was named for its wedge-shaped plot of land and not the homey confection. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of pie from Companion Bakeshop available in the light-strung barn that's warmed by a wood burning stove.
Slip on your galoshes and head to this pastoral Christmas tree farm with a crackling bonfire for roasting marshmallows, heaps of leafy branches, and tables for wreath making, tractor rides, and a multitude of swings that sway from trees.
The ridiculously picturesque Harley Farms brims with pure, fresh goat cheeses, milk products and the kind of natural serenity that flipped Thoreau. Just don't leave without trying one of their seasonal cheesecakes—chocolate in December—that's delicately sculpted over a toothsome macadamia nut crust. Come spring, two hundred bouncing baby goats fill the farm with little bleats so cute it hurts.
This effortlessly hip coffee shop exudes Steve McQueen cool with Motto Guzzi decor, Sightglass pourovers, Deux ex Machina apparel, a fun curation of vintage childhood treasures, and the world’s smallest movie theater screening black and white flicks. Downtown Local also shares space with Chikken Revolution, an artisan food shop that's equal parts health and style.
This local outfit defines the "Slowcoast" as the land—and accompanying unhurried lifestyle—that stretches between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. Their pop-up boutique is a de facto gift shop for the California coast with breezy, surf shack-inspired apparel, jewelry, and body products.
This intimate brewery and pub is situated on an enviable locale overlooking windswept Gazos Creek Beach. December brings a rotating list of seasonals like the Krampus Christmas Stout, a strong winter warmer with Christmas spices, and a whiskey barrel aged version of their toffee and nutty brown ale. Want to try ‘em all but don't have time to nab a driver? Hook up with Vantigo that jets guests down here each week in a shiny red VW bus.
With each new artisan bakery opening, you might expect the 50-year old recipe for Arcangeli’s artichoke garlic bread to eventually prove passe. Not a chance. Tear apart a warm, crusty loaf to expose a soft, steamy interior studded with artichoke hearts for proof. Pair it with Harley's chevre and enjoy it on their creekside picnic tables out back.
Everyone in town knows this popular gathering spot as Cindy's, referring to owner Cindy Simms. She expanded a quaint, retro general store to include an all-day deli with wood burning pizza oven and wine and craft beer bar.
Tourists know this 120-year-old roadhouse (pronounced DOO-arts) for its artichoke soup and olallieberry pies, but locals come for the off-menu Charlie’s Spaghetti and a from-scratch Bloody Mary made with pickled beans from their garden. After Thanksgiving, regulars get antsy for a boozy homemade Egg Nog that's only served throughout the month of December. Enjoy it in the Twin Peaks-cozy dining room or in the taxidermic bar with Willie twanging over the vintage jukebox.
The hugely underrated San Mateo coastline hides some of Northern California's most scenic beaches. Each will remind why you live in California, but the wide crescent sand shore at Bean Hollow might just be our favorite. Follow a narrow trail up and over a bluff blanketed with ice plant and discover a moonscape of tide pools and sandstone rock formations. Note that there are two distinct areas and corresponding parking lots. You want the southernmost one.