A summer’s day may be the perfect time to explore the northern San Mateo County coast. 

Even if it’s cloudy, foggy or cold, there’s plenty to see and experience. Just remember to bring a jacket along with sunscreen. 

Devil’s Slide Trail is a just over a mile-long multi-use path converted from a former segment of Highway 1. (Courtesy Larry Sokoloff) 

Start south of Pacifica’s city limits and go for a walk on the Devil’s Slide Trail. This 1.3-mile, car-free paved trail follows the old stretch of Highway 1 and is used by pedestrians and bicyclists who both have their own lanes.  

Hikers head up Devil’s Slide Trail, a picturesque path open to foot and bike traffic. (Courtesy Larry Sokoloff)

(Parking here can be tricky, though: Follow the signs on southbound Highway 1 and pull into the parking lot upon seeing flashing lights just before the Tom Lantos Tunnel begins. There are about 20 parking spots in two lots. The best time to find parking is on weekdays. Note: The trail is also reachable via limited SamTrans bus service on Route 117.)  

Check out the blooming wildflowers while gradually climbing from the parking lot to the ocean view. There are five large benches at the top, and the views are as spectacular as anything at Big Sur. 

You’ll need to return to Highway 1 to continue south through the Tom Lantos Tunnel. Coming out of the tunnel, there’s plenty of hiking or beach walking that can be done in the area around Montara State Beach. 

Or continue on to Moss Beach and its famous distillery, home to a restaurant and bar located on the cliffs above Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, where there’s a beach and tidepools. If you’re at the marine reserve at low tide, you might see seaweed, crabs, sponges, anemones, sea stars, mollusks and fish. For details about visiting the reserve and parking, visit  parks.smcgov.org

A century ago, the Moss Beach Distillery was a speakeasy during Prohibition, and there’s much history on display. There’s also an outdoor patio with a fire pit, which comes in handy when the sun is hiding.   

Pelicans gather on the San Mateo Coast near Pillar Point Harbor, known for commercial fishing and pleasure boating or paddleboarding. (Courtesy Larry Sokoloff)

There’s plenty more to see nearby. Drive south again toward Pillar Point Harbor, also known as Princeton-by-the-Sea, or even as the harbor near Half Moon Bay. Bicycles, paddleboard and kayaks can be rented at the Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. and used on paved trails here. 

If you’re hankering for a meal or a drink, there are plenty of choices: old favorites like Barbara’s Fishtrap, the Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. or Mezza Luna. Sam’s Chowder House is another favorite, and in nearby El Granada, the relatively new Breakwater Barbecue serves all kinds of brisket, ribs and sausages. 

Jettywave Distillery is a new hot spot in Half Moon Bay. (Courtesy Larry Sokoloff)  

It’s also worth checking out another one of the newest restaurants and watering holes, the Jettywave Distillery, which celebrates the surfing world. A sign in front at 155 Broadway advertises “outdoor daydrinking, bonfire lounge, world fusion food,” and that it’s dog friendly. It’s a 25-minute walk to Mavericks Beach, the beach that made Half Moon Bay synonymous with surfing. The distillery is open only on weekends, Fridays and on the first Thursday of each month.