When you stay at the lovely HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel on the California coast, you have access to some awesome attractions practically at your doorstep: there’s the ocean with tide pools and abundance of wildlife, a variety of hiking trails, the charming town of Pescadero, and the nearby farms with delicious eats (artichokes anyone?). If you’re a regular visitor to the area, or you have the time and the need to experience more of Northern California’s endless offerings, there are plenty of great day trips to take using the hostel as your base.
For your quintessential California beach town experience, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Santa Cruz, which is just a half an hour drive from Pescadero. The short time on the road means you can max out on all the things to do. Make your first stop at Natural Bridges State Beach, a sweet spot where you can hang out on the shore near the iconic rock formation or wander amongst the eucalyptus trees during the monarch butterfly migration season (from October to January). If you’re up for a bit of blood-pumping action, there’s excellent surfing to be done around these parts, even for beginners looking for starter waves, and hiking in the parks surround the town, including strolls amongst breathtaking redwoods at Henry Cowell State Park. Otherwise, check out the boardwalk amusement park for nostalgia’s sake, and then find a place to munch on some fish tacos to complete the summer beach experience.
Henry W. Coe State Park
Hard-core hikers and nature lovers should definitely spend some time in Henry W. Coe State Park, the largest state park in Northern California and a maze of over 250 miles of hiking trails. Whether you’re up for a seriously challenging hike, or just a stroll that will lead to carpets of wildflowers in the spring and rewarding views year ‘round, you’ll find the perfect trail. The park is also a favorite of mountain bikers and is home to a large variety of wildlife, including the elusive mountain lion and gentle tarantulas (yes, the spiders), which are celebrated each fall during the annual Tarantula Fest and Barbecue. It’s about a two-hour drive from HI Pigeon Point, so be sure to bring all the essentials with you or pick up supplies along the way for a full day of outdoor adventuring.
Known as a hub of all things tech, Palo Alto, which is an hour from the hostel, is full of surprising gems, even for those whose working knowledge of the internet peaks at knowing how to Google. The little city has historic shrines to its main industry, like the garage where Hewlett-Packard got started, and the Museum of American Heritage, which focuses on invention and technology from 1750 to the 1950s. But there are also quirky little must-sees, including the donkeys in Barron Park (fun fact: one of the donkeys, Perry, was the model for Donkey in Shrek), and a cactus garden on the campus of Stanford University featuring succulents from around the world. Keep an eye out for local farmer’s markets for fresh produce and yummy samples, or try one of the local eateries offering classic Californian foods and global fare.
HI USA Tip: Make the most of the summer sun and do the ultimate California road trip with HI USA, and though you probably don’t need them, here are seven images to make you fall even more in love with HI Pigeon Point hostel.