Staying at HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse is a treat for travelers, whether they’re San Franciscans escaping the city for the weekend, or they’re adventurers making their way up the California coast for the ultimate road trip. The stunning natural beauty of the Pacific Ocean and its beaches, and the sweet small town of Pescadero make for the perfect getaway, especially when you know how to do it just right. Enter Hostel Manager Jeff, who has been working at HI Pigeon Point for 20 years and knows quite a bit about the hidden gems and must-sees of the area.
“One of my favorite things about living here is hearing the waves pound the cliffs on a big south swell,” Jeff says. “When a new swell arrives from the southern hemisphere, I have trouble sleeping because I get too excited about surfing.” He’s also a talented photographer and amateur astronomer, and on perfect moonless nights, Jeff brings out his telescope to show guests the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn.
We asked him to share a few more of his favorite things about living and working on this stretch of Highway 1 so that next time you visit, you know how to experience Pigeon Point just like the locals do.
Favorite coffee spot:
“While I don’t drink coffee myself, I do like to get some mint tea at the Downtown Local in Pescadero,” Jeff says. “They have fresh brewed coffee and teas, as well as historical knick-knacks from the bygone era of American History with an emphasis on motorcycles.” Downtown Local is also Pescadero’s only movie theater, and on a rainy day it’s perfect when you want to cozy up with something warm and a good flick.
Favorite breakfast spot:
Jeff’s favorite breakfast spot is also excellent for travelers on a budget: “I like to visit the Pescadero Community Church for pancake breakfast every third Sunday. The building is the oldest surviving Protestant church building on San Francisco Peninsula on its original site and foundation.”
Favorite store to get picnic supplies:
“Arcangeli Grocery/Norm’s Market has the world famous, country-style Italian artichoke herb bread that is hot fresh out the oven, or you can buy it partially baked and bring it back to the hostel and heat it up for ten minutes for a delicious treat!” says Jeff. “They have everything you need to supply a great picnic.”
Favorite spot for dinner and drink:
“Duarte’s Tavern is the place to go for dinner or drinks. The third-generation family restaurant and tavern has been open since Prohibition and is the community gathering place when it’s time to relax.” Apart from the wonderful atmosphere, complete with an old jukebox and friendly locals, the food at Duarte’s is worth the trip. “The restaurant is famous for its “Half ‘n’ Half” soup – half cream of artichoke and half cream of green chili – and the hot sourdough bread is almost as addicting as you dip it into your soup and slurp up the yummy goodness!”
Favorite beach spot:
“Franklin’s Point is just north of Gazo’s Creek Beach access and has wonderful rolling dunes and trails that connect all the way to Cascade Creek beach near Año Nuevo State Reserve.” Franklin’s Point is also a historical site because of the shipwreck of the Sir John Franklin in January 1865 that killed the Captain and 11 men. “Buried under the sand dunes, it’s a stark reminder of the history of the lighthouse in the distance.”
Favorite hiking trails:
“Wilber’s Watch trail is only a short distance from Pigeon Point with a gentle sloping trail that goes to the summit of the foothills above Pigeon Point,” Jeff says. If you’re looking for something a little longer, he recommends the Butano State Park. “My favorite is the 9.5-mile Canyon Loop trail from the Visitor Center.”
Favorite local creature:
“I have had many, but lately it’s the humpback whales that have been bubble net feeding right off shore. We have been seeing lots of whale breaches where they jump out of the water and splash in a dramatic way.”
HI USA Tip: Expand your adventure with these three day trips you can take from Pigeon Point.