Best things to See and Do in Pacifica, California

"sunset in Pacifica"
Stroll the many beaches of Pacifica in Northern California at sunset.

Are you visiting Pacifica for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in this Northern California oceanfront oasis.

Visitors from out of town will be blown away by the natural beauty of this area.  Pacifica offers surfing at Linda Mar Beach, hiking along Mori’s Point or exploring the many parks that are protected by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the world’s largest urban parks,  providing unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean.

For more ocean views, check out San Pedro Valley Park. Located in Park Pacifica, this ethereal, vista-packed trail brings wonderful solitude and views of the ocean. If the fog factor sends you indoors, Ocean Yoga offers daily classes for yoga enthusiasts of all levels.

Walk to the top of Sweeney Ridge, the discovery site of the San Francisco Bay Area. Not looking for exercise? Milagra Ridge offers spectacular views, without the uphill climb.

Too bad Gaspar de Portola didn’t have an iPhone  back in 1769 when he came upon the famous peak at Sweeney Ridge. Bring your camera here, as this is the discovery site of the Bay Area by de Portola.  If you are not feeling adventurous for a serious hike, you can stroll the many beaches at sunset.  The town has oceanfront lodging if you decide to to stay for the evening and listen to the lullaby of the ocean waves.

"Pacific oceanfront hiking trail"
Hiking along an oceanfront trail in Pacifica, California

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in Pacifica

If you are looking for great local cuisine, I recommend watching the sunset over dinner at Nicks Restaurant in Rockaway Beach. Gorilla BBQ in Vallemar is famous for its Pork Ribs and a stint on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Tam’s Chinese Honey and Walnut Prawns are not to be missed.

The best item on the menu at Granuccis is the Sea Bass.  The place for the best hamburger is Rockin’ Robs, voted by Rand McNally as one of the best stops for a burger and milkshake.

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Looking for cheap food in Pacifica? Go to the oceanfront Taco Bell in Linda Mar Beach which was rated #9 on The Travel Channel’s World Best Fast Food Stops.

Go to Café Pacifica a great coffee and fresh pastries. Or Salada Beach Café and High Tides for a delicious breakfast.

High Tides or La Playa are the places for expensive meals that are worth the price.

Enjoy a night out on the town? Try A Grape in the Fog for wine.

The Frontierland Park offers a great place to take your family for a picnic and enjoy the annual Fourth of July Festival fireworks display.  Or, take the kids to Pacifica Skate Park – a free and safe skateboarding mecca located behind the Pacifica Community Center.

"Pacifica Pier"
Watch pelicans and dolphins from Pacifica’s Pier

In Pacifica,  try your hand at fishing or watch the dolphins and pelicans cruise by from the Pacifica Pier.

Looking for a little exercise?  Walk along Mori Point or the many beaches, or take a surfing lesson at Linda Mar Beach.  Sharp Park Golf Course is an ocean side jewel, designed by Alistar MacKenzie who was also responsible for the Augusta National Gold Course in Georgia, where the Masters Tournament is played.

Have you heard about Sam’s Castle? Run by the Pacifica Historical Society, the castle was built in 1908 by Henry Harrison McClosky. Thanks to the Sam Mazza Foundation you can visit this former brothel, speakeasy, and party palace. Watch out for the ghosts. I’ve heard the castle is haunted. If you are a museum or theater lover, Pacifica’s best museum is the Sanchez Art Center.   The best theater performances are performed by the Pacifica Spindrift Players.

Plenty to See and Do in Pacific, California

In the springtime foodies should attend Taste of Pacifica, held at Nick’s Restaurant in Rockaway. This annual event showcases a lot of  Pacifica’s wonderful restaurants.

In the fall, make plans to attend Fandango Dinner and Dance at the Sanchez Adobe benefiting the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce.  This is the kick-off to Fog Fest (details below) and is a festive, Spanish themed dinner dance.

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September- Annual Pacific Coast Fog Festival on Palmetto Avenue in Pacifica.  The festival was created in 1986 to promote Pacifica’s coastal climate, and includes a parade, sand castle contest and marching band competition.  Arts and crafts booths, food, and the famous FogCutter cocktail define this street fair extravaganza.

October The Golf Tournament at Sharp Park Golf Course includes 18 holes of golf (best ball), lunch and dinner at the course, along with awards and prizes.

Pacifiica also has the Coastside Farmer’s Market at Rockaway Beach, held from 2:30 – 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday.

"Northern California Surfers"
Take a surfing lesson at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, California

Celebrate Fog in Pacifica at Pacific Coast Fog Fest

Did you know that Pacifica is known for its annual celebration of Northern California coastal living? Plan a visit to Pacific Coast Fog Fest in the fall. The Festival includes the Discover Pacifica Parade, a sand castle contest and a marching band competition.

Come for bowling at Sea Bowl during the winter or have a glass of wine at Grape in the Fog.  The wine bar has events most Wednesday and Sunday nights.

Insider Tip: Check out the Sanchez Adobe, an historic site built in the 1840’s.  The Adobe is open to the public Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.  Admission is free for children under 6.  A $1.00 donation is requested of all other visitors.  Take your kids to Rancho Days at the Sanchez Adobe.

Did you know that San Francisco is located just 15 minutes north of  Pacifica, in Northern California? You’ll want to discover Pacifica for yourself on foot.  Hike the many trails and stroll the beaches.

Don’t miss Frontierland Park or an overnight stay by the ocean in Rockaway Beach if you have kids traveling with you.  The skatepark and the Segway tour along the ocean bluffs are great family friendly activities.

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Have you been to Pacifica? What are your favorite things to do in Pacifica, California? To learn more about Pacifica, Visit Pacifica’s website.

Related Post:

Insider Tips for Things to Do in San Francisco, California

Thanks to Pacifica Visitor’s Center for assistance with this post and photos.


6 thoughts on “Best things to See and Do in Pacifica, California”

  1. What a great gathering of information about Pacifica! I have been to Sam’s Castle and the pier. Will try some of the other activities next time I am in the area.

  2. @Shawnee
    Thanks for linking to my blog post @Shawnee. I couldn’t find where to leave a comment on your blog asking for activity suggestions on the Nor Cal coast. Next time you drive down, go horseback riding on the coast in Pebble Beach or further down by Morro Bay, on the Central Coast. I have all sorts of recommendations on my Writing Horseback blog

  3. Local person here. Please update your info. Some of these places, like Nona’s and Barolo no longer exist.

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