A day trip to Pescadero is a nice escape from the workaday world of the Bay Area.  This coastal farming town of 595 people (and a few hundred goats, cows and chickens) is about an hour’s drive from San Francisco and San Jose, and 14 miles south of Half Moon Bay. 

Pescadero is a cute little coastal town south of Half Moon Bay in San Mateo County. (Courtesy Larry Sokoloff) 

One way to settle in for a visit is to tune into local radio station KPDO, at 89.3 FM, the community radio station which features music and local news.  KPDO’s broadcasting studio, located in a funky, painted Grumman truck, is a landmark for visitors entering town on Pescadero Creek Road. Look for the heart sculpture and the mural painted on the side of the truck, or listen in at KPDO.net

Pescadero is easy to reach by taking Pescadero Creek Road for two miles from Highway 1. 

Duarte’s Taven has been operating since 1894. (Leslie Katz/Bay City News) 

Most visitors associate Pescadero with Duarte’s Tavern, which opened in 1894 and is located on Stage Road in the center of town. The landmark restaurant is still serving the famed creamy artichoke soup and fruit pies, along with a full menu of food and drinks. 

Stage Road has a number of other little stores selling food, drinks and crafts on a block-long stretch. 

Moonshadow is a funky spot in Pescadero where consumers can make vending machine purchases. (Courtesy Larry Sokoloff) 

One new store that stands out is Moonshadow, a few doors down from Duarte’s. As the sign out front tries to explain, this is intergalactic vending. Step inside and it becomes clearer what that means: three vending machines inside a 200-square-foot space, selling things you don’t usually find in such machines. How about a dozen local eggs? Or some black garlic salami? What alternate universe have you entered? 

Another machine sells utensils for a picnic, such as a bamboo spork and spreader for $8, or a piece of dark chocolate. And for those looking for some handmade souvenirs, a third machine sells pottery and tallow candles and soap —when it’s working.  A sign on the machine reads, “This machine is currently taking a nap.” 

Interesting items, self-serve, are the name of the game at Moonshadow. (Courtesy Larry Sokoloff)

Those needing human assistance with the machines should head across the street to either The Sunshine, a “grab and go” grocer selling healthy food, or Downtown Local, a coffee bar, and ask for owners John Betteo and Nicole Sillapere, a creative couple who have a hand in several endeavors in Pescadero. 

Betteo said they opened Moonshadow about six months ago. The idea came from a visit to Marfa, Texas, a renowned arts hub in the middle of that state’s western desert, where they found a similar store. Like many things in Marfa, he said, “It was more of an art installation than a store, but quite intriguing to us.” 

Moonshadow has gotten a good response.  “Everyone seems to really enjoy the novelty of it all,” he said. 

It’s free to drop in and visit the residents of Harley Farms Goat Dairy, although paid tours also are available. (Courtesy Larry Sokoloff)

Cap off a visit to Pescadero by visiting the Harley Farms Goat Dairy at 205 North St., where 200 goats are the main attraction. The farm is open for paid tours and hosts special events and wine tastings. But visitors are welcome to make a free visit to look at the goats. There’s also a gift store on site, selling chevre and goat milk lotions and soaps, along with other picnic provisions. The farm also has several picnic tables around a pond. The farm is a three-minute drive from Pescadero’s downtown. For more information, go to harleyfarms.com