Pacifica: The Coast is Clear

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The city of Pacifica stretches along six miles of Highway 1 just south of San Francisco -- through valleys, ridges and rocky coastline. The sometimes sunny, more often foggy beaches break free from the fog during the Pacifica's September summer. But the area has embraced its foggy reputation and misty weather with the annual Fog Fest in late September. Weather aside, this sleepy beach town has much to offer, from southern style barbeque with a California twist, to a variety of outdoor activities like hiking, biking surfing and bowling.

Linda Mar Beach (Pacifica State Beach) (5100 Coast Hwy.) As the fog burns off during the midday sun, crowds gather and surfers dot the shores. A short but steep hike to the north of Linda Mar offers views of the stunning coastline and access to neighboring Rockaway. The beach is located in a crescent cove, protecting it from larger surf and making the waves gentler, which is best for beginning surfers. There is a gradient of wave size, from large at the north end to small on the south end. It’s best to check a local surf cam, like Surfline, before paddling out.

Sonlight Surf Shop (575 Crespi Dr. #1) After stumbling upon Pacifica as a surf spot, Dan and Robin Moreno opened Sonlight in 1985, offering surfboards and wetsuits to rent or buy and board repair. The love of surf shows, making the shop inviting and providing an easy going environment. Private lessons can be arranged through the store and the staff focuses on water safety and building the basics of surfing to help beginners continue to catch waves long after the lesson.

Gorilla Barbeque (2145 Coast Hwy.) Don't be deterred by the long line at this take-out barbeque joint, orders are served up quickly and are well worth any wait. Generous portions of beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, hot links and chicken and sides ranging from mac n’ cheese to corn on the cob fill the menu. Located in an orange train car near Linda Mar Beach, meals make for a hearty beach picnic or post-surf feast.

Gray Whale Cove State Beach (Highway 1) Farther south on the Coast Highway through a grove of eucalyptus trees and into the wilderness hides Gray Whale Cove. Secluded by cliffs and a steep decline, the cove is often frequented by nude beachgoers. Whether clothes stay on or off, the beach is a respite from the crowds and city life.

Sea Bowl (4625 Coast Hwy.) Hit the lanes at this classic coast side bowling spot. Glow in the dark bowling balls fly down the lanes during the Friday night Astro Bowl, where fog and lasers enhance the ten pin experience. The Rockaway Bar & Grill inside the alley serves up traditional favorites like burgers and dogs, all while overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Call ahead to reserve a lane during peak hours.

Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for SF Weekly.

Published on September 6, 2013

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