Distance: 73 miles
Driving Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
The section of Hwy 1 between Santa Cruz and San Francisco is more pastoral than parts south and north, the hills lower and rounded, with the land flattening just enough to make room for farms whose fields end at the coastal cliffs. Brussels sprouts are a popular crop here, and you may see and/or smell them if you pass during harvest season.
Just one word of caution: They call it Devil's Slide and it certainly bedevils local residents by periodically disrupting traffic on Hwy 1 between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay. If the road is closed, I-280 and CA Hwy 92 form the detour between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay. CalTrans at 800-427-ROAD or check their website before you go to be sure the road is open.
Points of Interest
You'll see a number of attractive beaches along the road, and any of them is fine for a quick stop.
Other attractions listed in order from south to north:
- Coastways U-Pick: Located just north of the Santa Cruz/San Mateo County line. Harvest your own strawberries (spring), olallieberries (summer) and kiwi fruit (winter).
- Ano Nuevo State Beach: Northern elephant seals use the Ano Nuevo beach for birthing and breeding and it's spectacle well worth seeing if you're nearby in January or February.
- Pigeon Point Lighthouse ★★★☆: One of the most scenic (and most-photographed) lighthouses in California.
A short drive into the town of Pescadero ★★★☆ is well worth an hour or so. Look for the signs near Pescadero Beach. It's between Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. Drive about 2 miles off Hwy 1 and turn left at the four-way stop.
Stop at the Country Bakery for artichoke-garlic bread, browse local craftsmen's handiworks, visit the old rock guy or stop into Duarte's Tavern for a bowl of artichoke soup before continuing your trip north.
Half Moon Bay ★★☆☆ boasts a small downtown that's good for a stroll, too. It's well-marked no matter which direction you're driving.
Gasoline and food are available in Half Moon Bay and in the town of Pacifica near San Francisco. Depending on the time of year, you may find farm stands open selling seasonal produce.