Pescadero State Beach (Hwy. 1 just north of Pescadero Rd., 650/879-2170, www.parks.ca.gov, daily 8 a.m.–sunset, $8 parking, no fires) is the closest beach to the town of Pescadero. Though it’s a great spot to walk in the sand and stare out into the Pacific, near-constant winds make it less than ideal for picnics or sunbathing. It does have some facilities, including public bathrooms.
North of Pescadero, at the intersection of Highway 84 and Highway 1, San Gregorio State Beach (650/879-2170, www.parks.ca.gov, daily 8 a.m.–sunset, $8/car) stretches farther than it seems. Once you’re walking toward the ocean, the small-seeming cove stretches out beyond the cliffs that bound it to create a long stretch of beach perfect for contemplative strolling. San Gregorio is a local favorite in the summer, despite the regular appearance of thick, chilly fog over the sand.
Brave beachgoers can even swim and bodysurf here, though doing so without a wetsuit gets swimmers cold fast. Picnic tables and bathrooms cluster near the parking lot, though picnicking can be hampered by wind.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition