A Drive down the coast
from San Francisco
Highway 1 takes you from the San Francisco (start
at the Cliff House or SF Zoo) to the beautiful San Mateo coast - much of it
well preserved and protected from growth.
The Moss Beach Distillery (about 20 mi south of
SF) is a very romantic place on along the way, offering unsurpassed ocean
view from the bar and dining room. It also has a resident ghost. The
menu is steaks, ribs, and fish but the food preparation has never been great and
recently (2003) reached such a low that we recommend forgoing the dinning room,
and follow this plan instead: arrive two hours before sunset take a stroll in
the nearby cliffs (see below). Then take a seat in the MB Distillery
bar for a sunset cocktail. For dinner go for Mediterranean food at Cafe
Gibraltar (**, $$$) in El Granda (2 miles South on Highway 1) or Mountain
House (**, $$) at 13808 Skyline Blvd., Woodside, Telephone:
650.851.8541. (Mountain House is another 30 minute drive from Moss Beach.)
the creator of guide books to the best B&Bs around the world, operates her own
B&B just around the corner from the Moss Beach Distillery. Also just
around the corner is the trail head for a walk connecting Moss Beach and
Fitzgerald Marine Preserve. This is a nice area for strolling along a
bluff (**) with fabulous ocean views along the stretch. This is also a
lovely place for a sunset watching picnic. In colder weather, thought, you
can catch the sunset just as well through the grand windows of the Moss Beach
Further south along the coastal highway, but
well before Santa Cruz, are a string of extraordinary
redwoods state and county parks: Portola Redwoods, Butano, and Big Basin
State Parks, and Pescadero Creek and McDonald country parks. In these
parks you can enjoy a peaceful encounter with redwoods without the crowds and
tour buses in the more famous (but no more beautiful) Muir Woods. Butano (near the town of Pescadero) is the most accessible from the coast
highway, but never crowded (most locals don't even know of it). It has
one very nice and flat hike to see the grove of giant redwoods.
Portola Redwoods is more remote and the least accessible of the parks, but a very
worthwhile detour if you can afford the time. Directions from Interstate
280: West on Page Mill Rd; continue straight past Skyline Blvd (Highway
35) on Alpine Road. Take left on the Alpine-Portola fork, continue to the
park visitor center. It's a long and very curvy drive, about 1 hour.
From the coast highway (Highway 1) take Highway 84 to La Honda and ask locals
for directions to Alpine Road and Portola Park.
has some of the largest and oldest trees in this area. One giant is
believed to be 1200 years old. It's accessible by a short trail near the
park visitor center. Portola also has plentiful mushrooms in
Winter/Spring. We saw numerous species on one 3 mile trail loop,
Coyote, Slate Creek, and Summit Trails.
Here are photos of some... (click on photos to
Mushrooms along the Coyote and Summit Trails,
Portola Redwoods State Park
cute coast towns: San Gregorio and Pescadero.
In San Gregorio
: visit the
country store (**).
It's a great place for unusual books, (including unusual cooking books in
the rear), a bar, and music on weekend afternoons. The country store
is virtually the entire town.
In Pescadero we always stop to purchase a fresh loafs of
artichokes or garlic bread at
Arcangeli Grocery Company & Norm's
Market (***). These are possibly the most
tasteful breads in the world. Get them warm. We always buy two:
one for the road trip home and one to have later. These
famous loafs can also be purchased online!
Stage Road, connecting these towns is a lovely country lane road with two
moderate hill climbs, is ideal for
biking and Sunday drives. There is a cemetery on your left just before Pescadero ( if you are driving from San Gregorio to Pescadero) that's worth
a short stop. Here is where Jessica Dubroff is buried. She was
the 7-year old aviator who died in 1996 in an airplane crash while trying to
set the world record for the youngest person to attempt flying across the
USA. There is an appropriate lovely stone and memorial.
San Gregorio is the gateway to
Redwoods State Park. Pescadero is the gateway to Butano
State Park and various interconnected country parks.
The best urban area hiking in the world is in San Mateo and
Santa Clara Counties, South of San Fransisco. For more info see
Our friend Ebba and
her ex-boyfriend Stefan enjoying a Norm loaf. They came all the way
from Dusseldorf for this.