San Francisco Peninsula Coastal Road Trip Jarastyle travel

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California, USA, Pinterest. Photo by Bobby Yang, Unsplash

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A coastal oasis awaits in San Mateo County, just south of San Francisco. The San Francisco Peninsula stretches 10 miles wide and sixty miles long between the Pacific Ocean and San Franciso Bay.

Known for its technology sector, Silicon Valley, and access to world-class universities, San Mateo County also boasts agritourism, outdoor pursuits, and at least twenty Michelin-star restaurants.

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Panoramic Pacifica

My coastal San Francisco trip started down the Pacific Coast Highway—the iconic Highway 1. Our first stop was Pacifica, only 15 minutes south of San Francisco. The surfing town boasts scenic beaches and epic hiking.

Since we got off to an early morning start, we stopped to fuel up at Rosalind Bakery, whose motto is “In Crust We Trust.” Owner Matthew Kosoy named the bakery after his grandmother, who planted roots in Pacifica. This self-taught baker started his craft in 2016 to create something where he lived. Matthew calls himself a “nerdy baker” as he enjoys science and considers bread a living organism.

From hand-selecting grains from local millers to a sourdough culture for croissants, Rosalind Bakery speaks to all bread lovers. It was a tough choice between the hibiscus-glazed bear claw and a flaky croissant. I’m happy that the chocolate croissant with the perfect sweetness won the race.

Pacifica embodies the California lifestyle. We wandered through town to watch the surfers heading out for a morning ride. The crescent-shaped beach in Pacifica State Beach calls all ocean fans. If you time your trip right, you can catch the annual World Dog Surfing Championship in Pacifica.

Enjoy a Coastal Drive

Farmer John's Pumpkin Farm offered a number of varieties to take home. Photo by Julie Dee Suman.Farmer John's Pumpkin Farm offered a number of varieties to take home. Photo by Julie Dee Suman.

Farmer John’s Pumpkin Farm offered a number of varieties to take home. Photo by Julie Dee Suman.

Our next stop was Half Moon Bay, a 30-minute drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. Keeping our eyes on the road was challenging as we spotted dolphins and humpback whales diving through the surf. The rocky coastline with broad beaches stunned me.

Be sure to stop at Mavericks Beach, which boasts the biggest surf on the West Coast. The winter months bring some of the largest waves in the world. If you are craving to learn how to catch a wave, several groups in the area offer surf lessons. Or if watching the action is more your style, The Mavericks Big Wave Invitational happens here when the conditions are right.

As Fresh as It Gets

Lombard Street, San Francisco. Photo by Braden Collum, UnsplashLombard Street, San Francisco. Photo by Braden Collum, UnsplashLombard Street, San Francisco. Photo by Braden Collum, Unsplash

San Mateo County features an authentic farm-to-table experience. Over 50 working farms highlight a bounty of fish, beef, and vegetables. The As Fresh as it Gets Program unites locals and visitors with the fishermen, farmers, restaurants, and hotels that serve food produced on the peninsula. Businesses that qualify display an As Fresh as it Gets plaque, letting patrons know they are enjoying freshly sourced goods.

Agritourism also plays an important role, and several coast-side farms offer tours. As we visited during the fall, a stop at Farmer John’s Pumpkin Farm in Half Moon Bay was in order. The 14-acre pumpkin patch begins growing ornamental and edible pumpkins each spring. Walking into the sea of orange and yellow gourds, we couldn’t miss the gigantic 600-pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin at the entrance.

The little kid in me couldn’t get enough of the brilliant pumpkin varieties. The bumpy Warty Goblin pumpkin with its spooky vibe almost became my souvenir. In the end, I selected an alabaster Baby Boo pumpkin that fits in the palm of my hand.

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Half Moon Bay

San Francisco, CA, USA. Photo by Joshua Earle, UnsplashSan Francisco, CA, USA. Photo by Joshua Earle, Unsplash

San Francisco, CA, USA. Photo by Joshua Earle, Unsplash

Half Moon Bay’s fantastic seaside destination entices those who enjoy wine tasting and farm-to-table dining. We spent a lovely afternoon exploring Main Street with charming boutiques and sipping California wines.

Barterra Winery calls itself an urban winery with a tasting room allowing you to discover the best Northern California wines. The winery focuses on small producers and farmers celebrating simple pleasures. The comfortable space offers a broad selection of red and white vintages. I particularly enjoyed the white pear undertones of the 2022 France Colombard from the Mendocino region.

Located next to Barterra Winery, Fattoria e Mare utilizes the region’s bounty to create tantalizing dishes representing the land and sea. Chef Pablo Estrada’s kitchen makes everything from scratch, including butchering all meats in-house and baking delectable breads. We savored a seasonal menu for lunch, which included pillowy pumpkin gnocchi with butternut squash chips and pizzas made with 24-hour fermented dough for the perfect chew. Dessert alone, a pumpkin gelato with pumpkin flan brulee, was reason enough to return for another meal at this Italian-inspired restaurant.

If You Go:

The San Francisco Peninsula is best accessed via San Franciso International Airport (SFO). You’ll want to have a car to truly explore the coastline, stop for a hike, and visit the charming towns of San Mateo County.

The San Francisco Peninsula is along the gateway to Carmel, Monterey, and Yosemite National Park. For example, a drive to Yosemite will take about 3 hours, while Carmel is about 90 minutes away. Meanwhile, Carmel This makes the peninsula an excellent starting point for exploring Northern California.

Half Moon Bay features luxurious seaside resorts like The Ritz-Carlton and Half Moon Bay and charming inns on Main Street like Nantucket Whale Inn.

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Author Bio: Julie Dee Suman is a Maryland-based freelance travel writer and photographer. She has traveled extensively, including over 47 countries across six continents. In addition to featuring the Mid-Atlantic Region, Julie enjoys destination travel with a focus on nature and wildlife excursions. She is a member of the Travel Writers Café and the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA). In addition, she’s a regulator contributor at Wander with Wonder.

Julie is also a pharmaceutical scientist and co-editor of Respiratory Drug Delivery. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and trade magazines.

San Francisco Peninsula Coastal Road Trip Jarastyle travelSan Francisco Peninsula Coastal Road Trip Jarastyle travel

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