It may be breezy, but funky Pacifica has great oceanfront views, a wide variety of bakeries and stores, and even sometimes, sunny days. If you can take a midweek break, that’s a good time for a visit. With easy access to parking at both trailheads and taprooms, you’ll avoid the weekend scrum.
On weekends, parking is a little harder to come by in this city of 40,000 people that’s 15 miles south of downtown San Francisco. But it’s worth the drive then, too.
If you visit Pacifica on a cold day and need to warm up with coffee and some baked goods, there are many tempting choices. You might start at Mazzetti’s Bakery located at 101 Manor Drive, which sells muffins, biscotti, focaccia and cupcakes.
If you’re interested in gluten-free or dairy-free baked goods, drive on to Saltwater Bakery at 1905 Palmetto Drive. Saltwater is across the street from David’s Bagels, which besides its namesake bagels, sells large $4 baked hamantaschen stuffed with everything from chunks of apple to the more traditional poppy seed filling.
Palmetto Drive is a good street for a stroll. It’s also not quite as windy as nearby Esplanade Avenue, which leads to the city’s pier, only a few blocks away. Places to check out on Palmetto include Café Pacifica, The Royal Bee Yarn Company or In the Attic antiques store, which sells Obama campaign stickers for $1 or matchbooks for $2. It’s a little hard to believe both items are now considered antiques.
Don’t expect Palmetto to look as polished as Main Street in nearby Half Moon Bay, which is crammed with stores and restaurants. You’re apt to wander past a few weathered houses, or a parking lot or two, as you amble in the area between Carmel and Santa Rosa avenues.
Also, note that many of these businesses are closed on Mondays and some are closed on Tuesdays.
One place that opens on Monday afternoons at 3 p.m. and stays open all week is the Humble Sea Brewing Co., an outpost of the Santa Cruz brewing empire. This Humble Sea location in Pacifica’s Linda Mar neighborhood has lots of outdoor seating, and a more extensive food menu than in Santa Cruz. Of course, there’s also plenty of brews from which to choose. Humble Sea is located in a shopping center at 5560 Pacific Coast Highway, close by to another famous Pacifica site, the Taco Bell Cantina, known for its beautiful location on the beach.
If you’re visiting Pacifica on a weekday, you might even snag one of the dozen parking spots that provide easy access to a colorful Liberty Garden with benches and flowers that was created in the aftermath of 9/11. It’s located near the Calera Creek Water Recycling Plant in the Vallemar neighborhood off Highway 1 at Reina Del Mar Avenue, on the Pacific Ocean side.
Be sure to follow the path toward the ocean and take in the garden, which was established as a tribute to 9/11 victims. Through the years, it has grown to include an estimated 50 colorful small garden plots, full of whimsical touches such as plastic flamingos, tiny toy dinosaurs, bird feeders and windchimes, along with signs with names of relatives and friends who died, but not necessarily in the 9/11 tragedy.
After that stop, continue your journey down the path to the ocean, which is never far away in Pacifica.