Cavort in sand dunes, hike up a redwood canyon, and sample local delicacies.
Before Highway 1 traced the California coast, Pescadero was a popular destination along the stagecoach road from Santa Cruz to San Francisco. Tucked into the rolling hills, the hamlet offered travelers then, as it does now, beaches, colossal redwoods, and farm-fresh artichokes and olallieberries.
You can savor the town's history by stopping at bustling Duarte's Tavern. Owner Ron Duarte's grandfather opened the place in 1894 and Ron has been refining the restaurant since the 1950s. He cooks with fresh local ingredients, creating such dishes as crab cioppino and his celebrated cream of artichoke soup.
For elegant camping, head 11 miles south to Costanoa with its cabins, tent bungalows, and 40-room lodge. Enjoy a spa and 30,000 acres laced with foot trails. $40–$350. 2001 Rossi Rd., (877) 262–7848, www.costanoa.com.
Surprisingly, tiny Pescadero holds a trove of interesting shops. Made in Pescadero specializes in locally produced, handcrafted furniture and art. Steps away, you can browse for ceramic garden torches at Luna Sea or stained glass, jewelry, and cat-themed gifts at Stage Road Shops.
The Pescadero area is rich in possibilities for day trips. If there's a picnic in your plans, stop by the Arcangeli Grocery Company/Norm's Market for a bottle of wine and some of Mike Benedetti's homemade artichoke bread. You can also tour the award-winning Harley Farms Goat Dairy on North Street. Back along Highway 1, at Pescadero State Beach, you can walk the sand dunes and keep an eye out for harbor seals. Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, at the junction of Highway 1 and Pescadero Road, is a prime birding spot. Five miles east of town, Butano State Park has 3,500 acres of redwood-filled canyon.
When it's time to turn in, you'll find cozy rooms with clawfoot tubs at the Pescadero Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast. The Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel provides bunkrooms with shared bathrooms next to an authentic 19th-century lighthouse.
Before you leave, stop at Phipps Country Store and Farm. There you can select fresh produce and dip a scoop into bins full of unusual homegrown beans. You also can pick your own strawberries from May through September and gather olallieberries in early summer. And don't miss the barnyard zoo, complete with snoring pigs and Himalayan monal pheasants.
Photography by Clay McLachlan
This article was first published in September 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.