Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Pacifica, CA

  • Published 2021/12/21

It’s no surprise that so many travelers return and try the best things to do in Pacifica again and again.

One of the best spots to visit in California is Pacifica.

Its beaches, culture, and entertainment have made it a popular vacation spot for locals and tourists.

People adore Pacifica because it has many activities to choose from, making it a popular tourist destination.

Pacifica is a fantastic site to stop on your Pacific Coast Highway road trip because it is located on Highway 1.

Pacifica is just 15 miles from the center of San Francisco, making it a favorite day trip destination for Bay Area residents who want to get away from the city for a while.

You’ll find locals and visitors flocking to this seaside city because of its convenient position.

The chances of fog covering the coastal city when you arrive are 50 percent, so consider this while planning your trip.

It’s a shame, but don’t let it stop you from going! It doesn’t matter if it’s foggy or raining; Pacifica is still a great place to visit!

From July through October, the average daily temperature in Pacifica is 65 degrees.

When the water temperature reaches 58 degrees, those months are also the best time to visit.

There are so many exciting things to do in this fascinating city.

It’s impossible to be bored in this city, whether you choose to take it easy or get your heart rate up with various activities.

Cycle the Scenic Devil’s Slide

View of Scenic Devil's Slide

digidreamgrafix /

A short trip of 20 to 30 minutes may be so stunning you won’t believe it!

To get to Half Moon Bay and all that it has to offer, Devil’s Slide acts as the doorway.

Rock-slide-prone parts were originally called ‘hellish,’ but they have undergone a massive structural makeover and realignment to secure their stability.

View of Scenic Devil's Slide

SvetlanaSF /

In my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful parts of Highway 1.

Despite the few tunnels, every bend gives a new and spectacular view of the Pacific.

View of Scenic Devil's Slide

leisina /

Take Photos with the Graffitis at the Nike Missile Control Site SF-51

Graffitis at the Nike Missile Control Site SF-51

Travis Wise, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Russian air invasion never materialized during the tense Cold War years from 1953 to 1979 when the US Army built and operated hundreds of Nike missile launching systems in the United States.

It’s not uncommon for Cold War-era facilities like Nike Missile Site SF-51 in California to be allowed to rust, never firing a single missile, as evidenced by the fact that the abandoned concrete structures have become more valuable to graffiti artists than the military.

The final line of defense against Soviet bombers were these missile installations.

Graffitis at the Nike Missile Control Site SF-51

Travis Wise from Bay Area, California, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of 11 Nike Missile Sites SF-51 in California was built to protect the San Francisco Bay Area with its supersonic missiles ready to go at the press of a button.

When the facility was at its peak, it was outfitted with a radar system that could detect oncoming adversaries and unleash Nike missiles in a matter of moments.

Fortunately, the button was never used, and the entire complex served as a strong deterrence for potential criminals.

Graffitis at the Nike Missile Control Site SF-51

Travis Wise from Bay Area, California, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Nike program was canceled in 1974 when intercontinental-range missiles were introduced, and the cinderblock facilities were left to decompose.

These blocky buildings persist even after being devoid of any harmful or useful equipment.

Graffitis at the Nike Missile Control Site SF-51

Travis Wise from Bay Area, California, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are a few historical markers for those interested, but for the most part, the area has been taken over by graffiti artists who have painted over the few remaining walls.

The place may be accessed by foot, bike, or horse through a well-marked route.

A portion of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area presently occupies the site (GGNRA).

Surf at Rockaway Beach

View of  Rockaway Beach

Laura Drake Enberg /

Rockaway Beach, a major tourist destination in the San Francisco Bay Area, is known for its pristine beaches and plenty of stores and restaurants along the waterfront.

A picturesque overlook overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding town provides breathtaking views of the beach and ocean.

View of  Rockaway Beach

Larnax, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Surfing, swimming, sunbathing, hiking, bicycling, surfing, fishing, and strolling along the beach are just activities you may engage in while visiting.

Showers and bathrooms are available, so your stay becomes more pleasant.

Visitors may find a paved walkway along the whole beach for walkers, runners, and wheeled tourists.

View of  Rockaway Beach

Mike Brake /

Witness Contemporary Productions at Pacifica Spindrift Players

Theater group Pacifica Spindrift Players is located in the residential area of southern Pacifica, and is run by volunteers.

There have been 98 seats in this theater for 60 years.

The Pacifica Spindrift Players were created by a group of 10 persons who wanted to create a community theater in Pacifica.

In 1958, the “Pacifica Players” launched their debut production, “The Tender Trap,” at the Linda Mar school under the local Parks and Recreation department.

At 1050 Crespi Drive, a historic Baptist church that had served the community for many years as a community center, a group of theater lovers purchased the facility and transformed it into a functioning theater.

Spindrift Players of Pacifica was formed as a result of this merger (PSP).

Because of PSP’s efforts, theatrical arts have been brought to the people of Pacifica and the surrounding area through volunteerism.

Admire the Charm of Pacifica from Mori Point

View of Mori Point

Mada_Cris /

Mori Point, a 110-acre nature preserve located on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, is part of the Golden National Recreation Area.

A high cliff juts out into the Pacific Ocean at Mori Point, the primary attraction.

Mori Point’s tip is a must-see for those who want to look at the peninsula’s shoreline closely.

View of Mori Point

Mada_Cris /

Large marshes and tiny lakes dot the vast area in addition to a bluff and hill, making it easier for visitors to get about.

Be on the lookout for vulnerable and endangered species like the San Francisco garter snake or the California red-legged frog while you’re there.

View of Mori Point

Mada_Cris /

Go Fishing at Pacifica Municipal Pier

The Municipal Pier is one of California’s top fishing piers, located on Sharp Park Beach and measuring 1,140 feet.

Fishermen from the San Francisco Bay Area gather at the pier to catch much high-quality fish throughout the year.

View of Pacifica Municipal Pier

leisina /

You will need fishing license or an entry fee to fish from the pier.

Salmon and striped bass are among the species you may capture; if you want, crabbing is also permitted and requires no license.

Fish cleaning stations, bathrooms, chairs, lights, and a coffee shop/snack bar are all provided on the pier.

Discover the City’s History at the Pacifica Coastside Museum

The Little Brown Church was Pacifica’s first church, founded in 1910.

Nearby the Ocean Shore Railroad was constructed of fir and redwood.

Churches and community centers in Salado Beach were all located in the same building: the Salada Beach Presbyterian Church.

Since then, it has become a museum dedicated to telling the narrative of Pacifica’s rich and colorful past.

Over the past few years, the Pacifica Historical Museum has been showcasing a variety of exhibits.

One of the recent exhibits is the examination of the Ohlone culture, which has thrived in the Bay Area for more than 1,000 years.

Also included is the commemoration of the Portola expedition’s 250th anniversary and a celebration of a railroad that ran from 1905 to 1920, allowing San Francisco residents and visitors to explore the stunning attraction.

See the Wildlife of Milagra Ridge

A dog at Milagra Ridge

yhelfman /

Visitors may hike and explore the 275-acre open area park near Milagra Bridge, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Ohlone indigenous people first occupied it, followed by ranchers from Mexico and then Spanish immigrants.

As a part of a broader network of fortifications designed to protect the San Francisco Bay, the United States Army purchased the area in the 1930s and proceeded to erect Battery Construction No. 244.

View of Milagra Ridge

yhelfman /

As of today, the battery’s remnants may still be seen in the park.

Milagra Ridge’s flora and wildlife include the San Bruno elfin butterfly, the San Francisco garter snake, or California red-legged frog, all of which have special-status designations.

Have a Picnic at Frontierland Park

View of Frontierland Park

VirginiaBeach78, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pacifica’s Frontierland Park is a large green park set amid the surrounding hills.

Several dedicated picnic sites equipped with BBQ grills, counter space, horseshoes, and many more make it a favorite destination for tourists.

The enormous play structure is a hit with kids and adults alike, and there are designated play spaces for children ages six and under and six and over.

If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery around you, the spacious grass area is an ideal spot.

Go Hiking at San Pedro Valley Park

San Pedro Valley County Park is just several miles away from San Francisco if you’re searching for a scenic trek.

Miles of hiking routes range in difficulty from simple to moderate, making it ideal for all levels of hikers.

View of San Pedro Valley Park

Sundry Photography /

Make your way to the Brooks Creek Trail to catch a glimpse of the 175-foot high Brooks Creek Falls.

The Montara Mountain Trail provides Farallon Islands views if you’re seeking ocean vistas.

In addition, watch out for horses since certain paths allow for horseback travel.

Check Out Mexican Architecture at Sánchez Adobe Park

View of Sánchez Adobe Park

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This 5.46-acre park Sanchez Adobe Park, established in 1947, houses the Sanchez Adobe Historical site.

This historical landmark in California and the United States National Register of Historic Places is one of the best examples of Mexican-era architecture.

You’ll also admire the restored adobe’s numerous period artifacts.

In the park, you’ll see Bigleaf Maple and cypress trees and birds like sparrows and hummingbirds on your way to the adobe.

View of Sánchez Adobe Park

BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stroll Around Shelldance Orchid Gardens

You may visit the world-renowned bromeliad nursery in Pacifica called Shelldance Orchid Gardens.

When Herb Hager transformed an artichoke field into a set of cutting-edge greenhouses in 1949, he was establishing the gardens that bear his name today.

Until today, the greenhouses have remained practically unchanged.

It is possible to observe some of the best hybrid orchids globally, and many take their names after local sights, including Pacifica, Pedro Point, and the Pacific Ocean.

Make your way around the ethereal gardens and see the variety of local artwork displayed here.

Appreciate the Artworks at Sanchez Art Center

Outside View of Sanchez Art Center

Adam Pardee Photography /

One of California’s oldest art centers is the Sanchez Art Center, established in 1996 by an artist-led group of volunteers, local citizens, and the City of Pacifica.

Its goal is to bring people together through the power of art.

Up to 30 Bay Area artists can rent studio space at the art center, featuring exhibits by new and recognized California artists, educational events, and outreach initiatives.

Three exhibition halls are available at the art center.

Interior of Sanchez Art Center

Adam Pardee Photography /

Volunteers work in the galleries, which are available to visitors from Friday to Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. during exhibitions (except opening Fridays).

Admission is free.

The Art Guild of Pacifica, which has more than 150 members, is based at the Art Center and volunteers for exhibitions, events, gallery sitting, and guild’s board and committees.

Take a Sightseeing Tour at Sam’s Castle

As a tribute to his wife Emily’s Scottish boyhood home, Henry Harrison McCloskey, a San Francisco rail mogul and grandfather of Congressman Pete McCloskey, designed and erected Sam’s Castle in 1908.

As a safe refuge after his San Francisco house was badly destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, McCloskey built a castle on the seaside.

Sam Mazza, a theater painter and decorator for 20th Century Fox, acquired and refurbished the castle in 1959 and filled it with awe-inspiring pieces of art and antiquities he had amassed throughout his career as a theater painter and decorator.

As part of the Sam Mazza Foundation’s ongoing support of the Pacifica Historical Society, the Castle is periodically made available for public visits.

Have a Splash at Pacifica State Beach

View of Pacifica State Beach

BrokenSphere, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pacifica State Beach, which receives over a million visitors each year and is also known as Linda Mar Beach, is a popular tourist destination.

Downtown Pacifica is home to a crescent-shaped beach less than a mile in length. It’s a popular spot for novice surfers because of the gentler waves there.

Aside from surfing, there are many more water activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, participating in beach yoga, etc.

The beach’s Taco Bell is known as one of the most beautiful Taco Bell stores globally, so if you’re hungry, stop by.

View of Pacifica State Beach

BrokenSphere, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Coastside Farmers Market

Wednesday afternoons see shoppers flocking to Rockaway Beach for the Pacifica Coastside Farmer’s Market.

Locals and tourists alike may buy some of the best fruits and vegetables in the area at this market.

Flowers, handcrafted artworks, and even beauty and health care items are all available for purchase at the market.

Nevertheless, the Farmer’s Market is notable for its abundance of locally sourced fish and culinary delicacies.

Final Thoughts

Pacifica is a unique vacation destination because of its diverse cultural heritage and interesting bohemian vibe. There is so much to see and do in Pacifica, with a variety of activities for all ages, cultural experiences, and events.

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