CONTRACOSTATIMES.COM: April 1, 2011
Showing affection on the dance floor isn’t really my style. I’ve seen couples sway in an ardent embrace as their feet move in sync to the beat. That’s not me. It hasn’t been me for a long time.
But on a dark coastal night when the surf seemed to surge through my veins, I have to admit I got amorous. Bodies bumping, arms akimbo, my husband and I danced like the ship was going down — in a bar on the coast of Pacifica.
We have a history with this blue-collar beach town. My husband used to live near the pier in the ’80s. Our hangout back then was Nick’s at Rockaway Beach, a place that’s still popular today.
So when my travel writers group chose this town for a retreat recently, I was eager to see what had changed. Very little, I’m happy to report. You can still get away — completely away — in this town known most notably for fog. But the annual September Fogfest (held ironically when skies are often sunny) is just one of dozens of things you can do in this little piece of paradise just 15 minutes south of San Francisco.
Here are some of my favorites:
1. Since I mentioned Nick’s first, I’ll lead with it. At Rockaway Beach with killer views of the surf, Nick’s has been owned by the same family for more than eight decades. They not only have the best crab sandwiches for miles, their live music packs the place. It’s worth the drive down just to dance and dine and enjoy the healthy salt spray.
2. When it comes to local flavor, A Grape in the Fog is a favorite among foodies and wine fans. Owner Beth Lemke calls it “Tuscany meets the Beach” and her wine bar features more than 30 California wines, along with craft-style beers and eclectic eats. Some surprising movers and shakers, including CEOs of major Silicon Valley companies, find this is a perfect place to unwind.
3. If you’re a fan of fresh fish — it doesn’t get any fresher than when you drop your line off the pier in Pacifica — widely known as the best fishing pier in the state. Bring a pole and buy some bait and you may find yourself eating surfperch or salmon. Feeling crabby? Drop a crab net over the railing (from November through June) and count the crustaceans that crawl inside to join you for dinner.
4. Hike, bike or Segway around town and beyond. More than half the land in Pacifica is protected open space with 1,000 acres alone in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Grab your walking stick and traverse miles of coastal and ridge-top trails that join Pacifica with its neighbors. Rent a bike and cruise along 2.5-miles of paved path north from Linda Mar State Beach to Pacific Coast Highway. Or join a Segway tour from Rockaway Beach that sports 12 scenic switchbacks over Strawberry Hill to Linda Mar.
5. And finally, if you truly believe less is more, just do nothing. Pacifica means peaceful in Spanish. This, alone, should tell you it’s restful. Book a room at the Best Western Lighthouse Hotel and toast the sunset. Slip into the zen as you watch the waves swell, curl and roll to nature’s symphony. And if the spirit moves you, dance like there’s no tomorrow.
For more information on Pacifica, see http://pacificachamber.com/.