Pacifica, California: Seaside Escape

Beaches, a castle, and interesting eateries make this coastal town a perfect weekend getaway.

rolling fog and the pacifica ocean in Pacifica California, picture
Views from the Milagra Ridge at Sunset.
yhelfman / Shutterstock

A breezy seaside town a scenic 15-mile drive south of San Francisco, Pacifica is enjoying an influx of inspired restaurants and a growing arts scene. Despite the changes, though, the place hasn’t lost its community feel. 

  • At the homespun Lovey’s Tea Shoppe, visitors choose from tea services that include an array of finger sandwiches, fresh crumpets and scones, petits fours, and bottomless pots of tea served in charmingly mismatched china. 
  • On 90-minute tours of Sam’s Castle, a Scottish-style fortress built in 1908, guests learn about the elaborately furnished building’s history as a speakeasy and a Coast Guard lookout station, and about its resident ghosts. Tours offered one day a month.
  • Puerto 27 combines Peruvian tapas-style dining with floor-to-ceiling vistas of the ocean. The mixed seafood and shellfish paella tossed with red-pepper rice packs plenty of heat and pairs perfectly with a classic pisco sour. 
  • A moderate, 1.5-mile path through coastal scrub leads to the Sweeney Ridge Trail and puts hikers near the spot where Europeans first spied the San Francisco Bay, and in view of Point Reyes and the twin peaks of the Golden Gate Bridge. 
  • For close to 90 years, Nick’s has served as the town’s main hub for drinks and dancing. On the weekends, swing by the horseshoe-shaped bar and join the other couples line-dancing across the floor or grooving to live jazz from the likes of saxophonist Terry Hanck.