Pacifica: the best kept secret in the Bay Area for families
By Kathy Chin Leong

Pacific2014-2.jpgIt's cool, it's quirky, and it's tasty.  When I asked my buddies if they have ever stepped foot in Pacifica, most of my friends admitted they have never been there. In fact, having been born and raised in the Bay Area, I have lived here my whole life, and I have not ever visited Pacifica until recently.  I have been so smitten by this community I have already brought friends twice since I first came in November.

Located south of San Francisco, Pacifica is best known for its fog that engulfs the town in one whole swallow.  When I said that the town is cool, yes I meant that it is literally quite chilly.  However, if you strike the chord right, and you come upon it on a sunny day, you hit pay dirt. It is absolutely breathtaking, for this coastal town suddenly illuminates as the sun bounces off the water and the waves.  

The residents are proud of where they live, and they strut their pride during the annual Pacific Coast Fog Fest held every fall. Another exciting and unique event is the Pacifica 50-50 where artists are challenged to create a small piece of art each day according to a theme aptly chosen by each artist for fifty days in a row. At the end, the city hosts a town wide celebration and exhibition at the Sanchez Art Center.  This year, the activity takes place between August 22 to September 28. 

Pacific2014-3.jpgThe scenery is epic, and the hiking trail that follows the ocean links four beaches with magnificent hills and views.  Stay for the sunsets, people! The main beach is called Rockaway Beach, and this is where you will find boutique shopping including a gift shop called Resurrected, a succulents shop, and a Christmas store packed to the gills with ornaments.  

And while it is beautiful, it has a weirdness that is utterly charming. I do love quirky communities, don't you? For instance, the local Taco Bell is located right on the beach. With a deck on the sand, the fast food joint has a walk up window so surfers can get their burritos and tacos with surfboards in tow.  

In addition, the town that had a railroad at one time features several leftover trains that have been transformed.  One has become a popular ribs joint. The other is a java station! Another transformation has taken place at the old Ocean Shore Railroad Station that has been purchased to become now a family-run restaurant called Vallemar Station with karaoke every other Friday night and serves steak, seafood, prime rib, and cocktails. 

Speaking of ribs and coffee! Prime rib and cocktails, Pacifica has a small, but tight food community with quality grub. Last year a tea parlor  opened up, and it already has garnered rave reviews. Called Loveys, the elegant shop has only about ten tables or so, and offers a huge variety of loose leaf teas and also fresh baked scones, fruit, crumpets, and tarts, and more.  Served on tiered trays, you feel as regal as a princess as you are served with the kindest of aproned wait staff.  

And if you hankering to truly dine, a new Peruvian restaurant dubbed Puerto 27 features fantastic spice-filled flavors and hearty dishes. Kabobs, tapas, seafood, and flan desserts are memorable, and not only that, the location on a hill provides you views of the most romantic sunsets you will ever experience. 

Another type of dinner establishment is casual and banking on its emphasis on organic dishes at the small and quaint Salada Beach Cafe.  The menu features burgers, pizza, pasta, fish, and so there is enough crowd-pleasing fare.  Right now, the restaurant is particularly popular for breakfast.  

Also for  breakfast and brunch, Nick's Restaurant is an excellent choice for traditional breakfast grub  that is fresh, big, and tasty.  The weekend evenings feature fun 70s music, so you can channel your inner John Travolta on the dance floor.  

After all this food, I want to let you know you can mingle in some nice hiking while in the area.  San Pedro Valley Park is a secret of the locals, and an excellent opportunity to hike in the mountains, see a waterfall, or simply go on a flat walk and bird watch if you desire.  

Pacific2014-1.jpgSo, if you get caught in fog with the family, don't despair. You can still enjoy a nice walk, have a spot of tea and lunch, and go for dinner and dancing. At night you can lodge at any of the comfortable hotels at Rockaway Beach such as the Pacifica Motor Inn, the Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel, or the Holiday Inn.  All hotels are under $200 per night. 

Bottom line: Pacifica is an affordable family getaway that makes for an enjoyable weekend. Bring the kids, the dog, your bikes, and you will have a grand time.


Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel -
Pacifica Beach Hotel -
Pacifica Motor Inn -
Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites -

Loveys Tea Shoppe -
Nick's Restaurant -
Puerto27 -

San Pedro Valley Park -
Rockaway Beach -
Mori Point Trail -

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