I took a break last week from looking at the walls of my home office and looked instead at the windswept beauty of the Central Coast of California in the beach town of Pacifica. I can hear you say, “so you took a vacation, big deal”, but I didn’t. I spent two days working elsewhere and this is why you should too. Take a workation.
Table of contents: ()
- Why Should I Take a Workation?
- Why a Pacifica Workation?
- Places to Stay and Work in Pacifica
- Places to Eat in Pacifica
- Things to Do in Pacifica
Why Should I Take a Workation?
From time to time I like to take advantage of the fact that my wife and I are still working virtually and go and work from somewhere else for a change. One way to describe this is a “workation”. I have been able to work from my daughter’s Virginia house, San Juan Puerto Rico, Sacramento, and Pheonix in the last year.
When some people at work heard I was working from somewhere else they thought it was terrible that I was “working on my vacation”. But, in fact, I wasn’t. I wasn’t taking my precious vacation days but was saving those for other things. But I was also not stuck in my home office just because I had to work. I was going out for meals and trying new restaurants. I was exploring after work or on the weekend. A workation is a great way to travel, explore more, and stretch your vacation days.
Why a Pacifica Workation?
Pacifica is not far from San Francisco but feels very different. While we were in Pacifica my wife and I needed to run an errand to go do a TSA interview. We needed to get to a Staples. It turns out that Pacifica is only 7 miles from South San Francisco with its shopping malls… and a Staples. It was surprising to me because Pacifica feels like a world apart from the urban sprawl of the San Francisco Bay Area that I call home.
If you are reading this article before June 30 of 2023 you should know that Pacifica is laying out the welcome wagon for people who want to come work as a temporary local in Pacifica.
- All visitors will receive a $50 citywide Shop Pacifica eGift card to spend in town when staying two or more nights, Mon-Thursday
- Gift cards can be redeemed at 40+ businesses around town, to encourage visitors to explore and discover a new favorite shop or restaurant
- Limit one card per room, per week. Offer valid 2/15/2023-6/30/2023, or while supplies last
- Learn more at pacificaworkations.com
For full disclosure, Pacifica sponsored my trip (paid for it) so I could write about the experience as I did there. All my opinions are my own.
If you are reading this after June 2023, then you should know that Pacifica has some of the things you should look for in a workation destination:
- A place where you can get some work done
- Great restaurants that you can explore during and after the workday
- Great scenery and activities that will make you want to wrap up your work at the end of the day.
Places to Stay and Work in Pacifica
Pacifica Lighthouse Hotel
I will be honest that when I write about a destination I usually start with things to do, then places to eat and the places to stay. But a workation is a bit different. Unlike a typical trip, I will actually be spending more time in the hotel. My wife and I worked from the Pacifica Lighthouse Hotel for an 8-hour day or so in addition to sleeping there. So a good hotel becomes more important to me on a trip like this. It has to have good internet and in our case it has to have places where two professionals can get work done including meetings.
We arrived on a Wednesday evening and worked from the hotel room on Wednesday. When we both had meetings my wife headed down the hall to the business center which had two additional desks. We planned this trip for a week when my wife had fewer meetings scheduled which made things easier. Checkout time on Friday was at 11 am so after that time we asked and the person at the front desk gave us access to the business center for the rest of the day.
We had a room facing the ocean and open the curtains and the window so that we could hear and see the waves off of Rockaway Beach where the Pacifica Lighthouse Hotel is located. We don’t get that at home.
Pacific Lighthouse Hotel
105 Rockaway Beach Avenue
Places to Eat in Pacifica
Luigi’s Italian Restaurant
On our first night in Pacifica, we found Luigi’s Italian Restaurant. We were on our own for dinner and Luigi’s is a local institution. The online reviews were filled with reviews from people who had been coming to Luigi’s since they were a kid. They were also filled with colorful stories of Luigi himself.
Neither the decor, the menu nor it would seem the prices look like they have changed in some time. I don’t think it was the best Italian restaurant in the San Francisco Bay area but it was tasty and pretty affordable.
Luigi’s Italian Restaurant
950 Linda Mar Blvd
Speaking of affordable, a funny thing happened to us when we went next door from the hotel to the cafe Breakers at Rockaway Beach. We had a gift certificate from the tourism board in our hands but when we went to order we were told our meal was already paid for. It was paid for by someone in the restaurant, and not the owner. We later learned that one of the locals just likes to do this on occasion. Welcome to the hospitality of Pacifica. What could we do, but buy breakfast for the people who came in after us?
Breakers is open for breakfast and lunch and it’s a pretty great place even if you have to buy your own breakfast. I had the breakfast burrito and my wife had the fresh fruit French toast. Later in our stay as the weather warmed up, patrons were enjoying the cafe’s outdoor seating.
As a bonus, check out the handmade jewelry that they are selling by the cash register.
What we needed after a breakfast like this was a hike, but we had work to do.
145 Rockaway Beach Ave
We had lunch at the wonderful Puerto 27 across Highway 1 from Pacifica State Beach. Puerto 27 is a wonderful Peruvian-inspired restaurant. Owners Julio and Zoila Calo-Perez were born in Lima, Peru. Julio learned to cook in his grandmother Maria’s kitchen and brought the flavors of his homeland to the area when the couple and their eldest son immigrated in 1978. In addition to Puerto 27, the family owns the restaurant Fresca which has 4 locations in nearby San Francisco.
I had been to Puerto 27 for breakfast before the pandemic, but now the restaurant is only open for lunch and dinner. Lunch might be the best time to visit when you can grab one of the outdoor tables.
I wanted to try some of the Peruvian dishes on the menu, so I ordered the empanadas and the chicken skewers. After a big breakfast, these were a nice smaller plate option for me, and the flavors were wonderful!
My wife opted for the fresh crab sandwich and a Pisco Punch from their cocktail menu. She had to take half of the sandwich back to the hotel room fridge. It was one of the best crab sandwiches she has ever had.
Although I was intrigued by the mango cheesecake and the sweet potato Peruvian donuts… we did not have room for dessert and will need to come back again.
525 Crespi Dr
Nick’s Seafood Restaurant
Nick’s Seafood Restaurant at Rockaway Beach has been there so long that our waiter Jim had worked there for 29 years and he remembers the decor in the dining room being the same as when he was a kid. He has a picture of him standing by the taxidermy pelican when he was 2 years old. While they may not have updated the decor since 1955, why should they? We were there on a Thursday night and the wait for a table was 20 minutes. That wait can easily be 90 minutes on the weekend.
Nick’s is a steak and seafood place. My wife again ordered the crab sandwich which was also good but quite different. This was a purist’s crab sandwich; crab, mayo, slice of tomato on grilled sourdough, and not a lot of fancy extras.
I had one of the evening specials, a steak with blue cheese, risotto, and roasted vegetables. This was the smallest of their steak options and the right size for me to allow room for dessert.
I made a rookie mistake. Order the fresh cobbler when you order dinner as they will run out. Don’t get me wrong, we were not disappointed with our dessert orders. I had the raspberry cheesecake and my wife had the Chocolate Tartufo.
One of the reasons that the lines are longer at Nick’s on the weekend is that they offer lie music most Friday and Saturday nights. Check out their music calendar for more information.
Nick’s Seafood Restaurant
100 Rockaway Beach Ave
Breakfast was a grab-and-go breakfast in between meetings from Rosalind Bakery. Is there anything better than walking into a bakery first thing in the morning? Rosilinds is known for its sourdough bread but they also have a selection of sweet morning treats.
I was tempted by the hibiscus-poppy seed bear claw but in my opinion, you can never go wrong with an almond croissant for me and a chocolate croissant for my wife.
I thought about the black tea with hibiscus and lime or the ginger mint lemonade but can’t say I was tempted by the sour kraut shots. That’s a thing?
If you have the time, they do have some sit-down breakfasts and lunches and of course coffee for those who need it before they can decide between the bearclaw and the croissant.
450 Manor Plaza
High Tide Cafe & Crêperie
Lunch was savory crepes from the High Tide Cafe & Crêperie. My wife got the chicken pesto and I got one of the specials which was a BBQ chicken crepe.
Hers came with a salad and mine with seasoned home fries. Yes, hers may have been healthier by I stand by my choice.
They have both inside seating as well as a colorful covered outdoor space.
High Tide Cafe & Crêperie
5500 Highway 1
Things to Do in Pacifica
A Walk in the Fog – Mori Point
The Golden Gate Recreational Area is a large part of the National Park System which stretches down to Pacifica. From the Pacifica Lighthouse Hotel, you are a quick 2-minute walk to the trails of the Mori Point segment of the park. As soon as we hit town on Wednesday night we took a hike out at Mori Point. There are two different hikes I have done here and I wanted my wife to experience them.
From the hotel, you can get on the Mori Point Loop Trail which is a paved flat trail that loops around the hills to the north. At the other end of the trail is a small parking lot and a fascinating community garden that extends along the path for some time. On a previous trip to Pacifica, I took a segway out on the loop trail.
If you drive up one more exit on Highway 1 from the Loop Trail parking lot there is a second parking lot by the Moose Lodge that leads to Mori Point itself. It is a short easy hike up the old Mori Point Road to the beach and from there, you can do a more active hike to the point or up the hills.
This area used to be the farm and the Mori Point Inn run by Italian immigrants Stefano and Angelina Mori. There were plans to build 60 houses and a 275-room hotel and conference center on the point but local conservation groups acquired the land in the year 2000 and donated it to the National Park system instead.
E-bikes Around Town
Another fun outing we did on the last day was biking around the area on a couple of e-bikes from Epicenter Cycling. They normally rent bikes by the day with the cost depending on the type of bike. They rent e-bikes and conventional bikes. They recommended a couple of electric mountain bikes to zoom up the local hills but at least one of us is a less than confident bicyclist so we opted for a set of sweet townie bikes. We hardly used the electric assist at all tooling around town, but my wife enjoyed the ride so much that she started bike shopping.
We had previously rented e-bikes on Angel Island, but the bikes we had on that trip had the battery behind the seat above the back wheel which made them more top-heavy. These bikes were easy to get on, get off, and cruise. When you end the ride with my wife wanting to do more biking… that is a huge success!
1265 Linda Mar Shopping Center
A Grape in the Fog
We ended our weekend outing with an after-work stop at A Grape in the Fog by Rockaway Beach. After a quick stop at Pedro Point Sirens for some souvenir shopping we grabbed a table in this cozy wine bar. This is not a tasting room limited to the production of wine from a single winery… not even a single country or continent. You never quite know what kind of wine will be on their tasting menu from one visit to another.
Their wine club is similarly eclectic. One month might feature German wines and the next month might feature wines from Napa.
My wife got their wine flight and I got a glass of a lovely medium-bodied red wine blend from the Languedoc region of France. It brought me back to wine tasting along the Canal du Midi. We paired that with a lovely cheese board as it felt like we had been eating big meals for the last couple of days.
A Grape in the Fog offers live music on Friday nights so it is a popular spot to wind down the day. Chris Ahlman was playing guitar and singing from 5-7 pm on Friday night when we were there.
One of their patrons might have a better idea about this workation idea as he arrived a couple of hours before us with his laptop. I live and learn.
A Grape in the Fog
400 Old County Road
Vacation days are precious. You should use all of them… but why limit your travels to when you have vacation. If you have the flexibility, pick up your laptop and find a nearby beach town to work from on your own workation.
I would like to thank Pacifica for hosting me (paying for most of this) and inviting me to get back to this lovely city on California’s coast.