Another quick jaunt north is the scenic town of Pacifica, California. As a student at San Francisco State University, I once lived here eons ago, but it is still as quaintly scenic and tranquil a spot as I remember.
As exciting and stimulating as San Francisco is, a quieter milieu and yes – one that is chronically foggy – is Pacifica, Spanish for peace. This rustic area feels a world away from urban life, with breathtaking views of the Pacific and green, lush rolling hills.
Pacifica is located on San Mateo County's north coast just 15 miles south of San Francisco on Interstate 1 South. The Bay area's best fishing (on a vintage pier) and surfing beaches (Pacifica State Beach) are found here, and so is the West Coast's tallest lighthouse. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve has awesome tide-pooling.
Fly into San Francisco Int'l Airport and take BART to the Daly City Station (in South San Francisco) where you can transfer to a San Mateo Transit bus that will take you straight to Rockaway Beach. There – along a rock-strewn beach – are some cozy hotels, romantic bars and great beachside restaurants.
Pacifica boasts a wholesale orchid nursery, country-style bakeries, excellent hiking and biking opportunities and don't forget, The Fog Fest – an annual celebration of the city’s awesome displays of fog. As a festival of sun, sand and surf that defines Pacifica life on the coast, The Fog Fest was created in 1986, on the last full weekend of September.
The two-day fair, with over 190 arts and craft booths, live entertainment, music, and food and drink (including the Fog Cutter, a specialty drink), attracts over 50,000 people.