Tag Archives: PCH

California’s Capitola Beach.

I’m in San Francisco last summer. I’m hanging out along the coast. Where to go? Where to go? It shouldn’t have even been a question. It was time to head an hour south on the PCH, the Pacific Coast Highway, to Capitola and the beach. It’s a beach town and place I have spent a lot of time at in my youth.

Parking is usually very hard to come by close to the beach and in town, so when I arrived I parked up-top alongside Cliff Dr. a few blocks away. The beach, village, house and coastline straight ahead.

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

The view is definitely worth the extra walk. Up above you can also see people stand up paddle boarding along the shoreline. Looking out you can see Capitola Wharf and Monterey Bay.

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

Capitola sits along the bay with the Pacific Ocean not far past. Lot’s of people boating on the open blue waters too.

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

Almost there beach! Always love seeing the colorful umbrellas.

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

Arriving in the heart of town you’ll see the sand bar and Soquel Creek as it flows towards the bay. The beach sits opposite.

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

You’ll find outdoor food, drink and entertainment options along the creek including Margaritaville, Mr. Toots Coffeehouse, Pizza My Heart, Paradise Beach Grille…

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

…and Zelda’s on the Beach. Lot’s of people having a good time while soaking in the sun. Antique stores, galleries and ice cream shops dot the streets as well.

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

The beach!

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

Lots of people were taking advantage of the warm, sunny summer day.

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

Of course I’m going to gravitate towards a park bench. Low and behold, its facing a scenic panoramic view. While sitting and looking down…

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

…you can checkout the colorful, hand-painted sea wall tiles, part of a community art project back in 2008. Lots of stories on that wall. 🙂

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

Alongside the beach is the aforementioned Capitola Wharf where you’ll find fisherman, views of the beach and surrounding areas and the Wharf House restaurant at the end, which I’ve yet to checkout.

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

I captured some close shots of people playing in the water and…

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

…stand up paddle boarding.

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

Palm trees and…

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

…colorful Mediterranean style housing are also part the of the Capitola picture.

Capitola Beach, California, PCH

It was great a day at my favorite beach town. I’ll be returning for sure next time I’m around San Francisco. 🙂

For more Capitola, checkout my time that day hanging around the colorful Mediterranean style housing along the shoreline and at Mr. Toots Coffeehouse.

What is your favorite beachtown? Any California beach town recommendations?

The Mediterranean in Capitola Cali.

Every time I’m in Capitola and around the beach, I love staring at the colorful Mediterranean style housing that lines right up against it.

Capitola, California, Mediterranean housing, beach town

The houses were built-in the 1920’s and are now all a part of the Capitola Venetian Hotel.

Capitola, California, Mediterranean housing, beach town

On this day I decided to get a closer look at the colors of the housing and of all plants and flowers around them. I’ll let the photos tell the story.

Capitola, California, Mediterranean housing, beach town

Capitola, California, Mediterranean housing, beach town

Capitola, California, Mediterranean housing, beach town

Capitola, California, Mediterranean housing, beach town

Capitola, California, Mediterranean housing, beach town

It’s not just me checking out the scenery.

Capitola, California, Mediterranean housing, beach town

Another favorite spot to check them out from and the surrounding area is from the balcony at Mr. Toots Coffeehouse. I don’t know what it is. The view just makes me think that I’m in a romantic place that’s far, far away. 🙂

Whenever I think of Capitola, one of images I will always have is of those two rows of houses right along the beach. The next step I think is to stay in one of them.

Capitola, California, Mediterranean housing, beach town

Out on the Open Road, PCH style.

I’m in San Francisco so of course I need to spend some time out on the open road, PCH style. I caught up with the Pacific Coast Highway in Pacifica and it immediately changed over from an interstate to a two-lane road snuggling the coast. My route today was going to take me to Half Moon Bay, then Santa Cruz and Capitola, capturing all the goodness along the way.

There are several California State Parks along this stretch. I stopped at Gray Whale Cove State Beach just south of Pacifica.

PCH, Highway 1, California

The beach, also known as Devil’s Slide, is in a sheltered cove surrounded by cliffs that drop suddenly into the ocean. Gray whales of course can be seen hanging around the shoreline.

PCH, Highway 1, California

It’s a secluded beach and nudist friendly. At the time I was on the trail and from those I saw on the beach below, all were fully clothed. 🙂 I didn’t take the steep trail down to the beach.

PCH, Highway 1, California

Parking was opposite the curving highway, so be careful when crossing. The road seems like the autobahn in stretches. There had been rumors that the beach was going to close due to state budget problems, but will remain open for now. Common on California, it’s too beautiful and scenic an area to close!

PCH, Highway 1, California

I also checked out Pomponio State Beach south of Half Moon Bay. It’s a more open, public beach.

PCH, Highway 1, California

Two of my aforementioned destinations straight ahead.

PCH, Highway 1, California

In Half Moon Bay, I stopped at Sam’s Chowder House for some great seafood and scenery. I parked alongside the PCH, also known as Cabrillo Highway in Half Moon Bay. Checkout the vehicles out on the open road.

PCH, Highway 1, California

I’ve just seen the sign telling me where I’m going, what about looking back to see where I’ve been. Don’t worry Pacifica and San Francisco, I’ll be back!

PCH, Highway 1, California

The PCH is also known as California State Route 1. Almost forget to capture the 1.

PCH, Highway 1, California

State parks and foodie stops check. Now time to pull off before Santa Cruz randomly at signs of a beach. I pulled off onto the dirt and captured the sand, ocean, beach and coastline. Looking west I waved hello to Japan, Hawaii, New Zealand and points beyond. 🙂

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

Shots of being out on the open road? Of course. Had the Top Gun soundtrack going much of the ride. It’s a California-based movie, but more importantly it brought back great memories of my time on the PCH growing up.

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

PCH, Highway 1, California

It was a great morning and afternoon out on the open road, PCH style. Checkout my previous post on my time at Sam’s Chowder House that day and the New England Clam Chowder deliciousness. I also stopped at Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park before reaching my destination. It’s Santa Cruz and Capitola time, stay tuned.

Where are your favorite places to stop along the PCH in California?

California: Pigeon Point on the PCH.

On an early afternoon day I was cruising south on the open road on California’s PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) towards Santa Cruz when I saw signs for a lighthouse straight ahead. I knew where my next stop would be. I pulled off of Highway 1 onto Pigeon Point Road and found myself at Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park.

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park

Right away within the park I saw the Piegon Point Lighthouse. The 115-foot lighthouse, one of the tallest in the country, was built-in 1871 and first lit a year later. Unfortunately the lighthouse itself was not open to tour, as it’s currently in the middle of a major restoration, but your allowed it walk around it. I did though catch a lucky break. The fog and clouds started to break along this part of the coast.

Pigeon Point, PCH, California lighthouse

Pigeon Point, PCH, California lighthouse

The lighthouse is still in use today, using one flash every ten seconds the past 125 years, to uniquely identify itself to ships from other lighthouses along the coast.

Pigeon Point, PCH, California lighthouse

Right alongside the lighthouse is the The Pigeon Point Hostel. It was the first hostel I’ve been around, that I can recall, in the United States. 🙂 Lot’s of their guests, as well as tourists, were hanging outside along the wooden look-out deck that extends past the lighthouse to the edge of the coastline.

Capture the open waters of the Pacific…

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park

…and the scenic and colorful immediate coastline. I didn’t see any on this day, but you can see whales and seals along the shoreline.

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park

You’ll notice picnic tables and grills available as you walk along the deck. Relax, unwind, and barbecue along the ocean.

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park

Checkout the coastline to the east from the various trails and other lookouts within this California State Park. One beautiful shot after another! 🙂

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park, lighthouse

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park, lighthouse

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park, lighthouse

Pigeon Point, PCH, California state park

Stopping at Pigeon Point was a highlight during these PCH travels. For picturesque views of a historical lighthouse and the coastline and ocean add this spot to your itinerary. Tip: To make a weekend out of it and stay at the hostel, make a reservation months and months in advance.

What other lighthouses would you recommend checking out in California? On the West Coast?

Sam’s (New England Clam) Chowder House on the PCH.

New England Clam Chowder. You could argue it’s my favorite soup and food. It all traces back to when I was a kid, going chowder hopping from place to place in Cape Cod with my dad. Ever since then, if I see it on the menu, I’m ordering it.

When I was organizing the places I wanted to go to in San Francisco and along the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), seafood and clam chowder of course came to mind. I hit up Google and Twitter and various review sites and this place in Half Moon Bay, Sam’s Chowder House kept coming up. I gotta get there.

Half Moon Bay, perfect. It was in-route on my already planned PCH trip from San Francisco and Pacifica to Santa Cruz, Capitola and points beyond. I got there around lunch time and parked a couple of blocks away along the road. This place is busy, it must be good!

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

Sam’s Chowder House opened in 2006 and sits right along Half Moon Bay and the Pacific coast. I immediately saw all of the outside seating. Yeay!

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

I found my spot. There was an ice-cold lemonade waiting for me. Not really, I ordered it when I was in inside. It definitely hit the spot, going through several during my time there. You couldn’t have asked for a better weather day. The sun was shining right on me. Being right along the Pacific Coast in this part of California it tends to me foggy, misty and cooler a lot of the time. I checked out SamCam early in the morning to see if it’d be an outside or inside eating day.

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

You can also sit on an Adirondack chair without…

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

…or with a fire pit…

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

…and stare at the beach, blue ocean and skies, the coastline and…

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

…the greenery and flowers right in front of you. You just wanna run out there and get out on the open water.

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

The scenery was breathtaking, but it was time to eat. Some freshly baked bread and sweet butter found its way to the table first. Too bad the outdoor bar in front of me was closed. Who doesn’t love an outdoor tropical bar?! 🙂

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

Shortly after the bread came well you can guess. It was New England Clam Chowder goodness time.

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH, New England Clam Chowder

Look at those big pieces of Yukon gold potatoes, celery, carrots, little necked clams and more. If that wasn’t enough, there was also smoked bacon within. A foodies dream! It had a great creamy base and was as good as advertised.

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH, New England Clam Chowder

Hard to believe but that was just a cup. I can’t imagine how big and how much goodness there was in a bowl. I finished the chowder fully satisfied, next! You see I also had ordered the fish & chips. You can always tell how good a seafood place is to by their fish & chips. 🙂

The fish & chips came with coleslaw and plenty of tartar sauce. I try to be fair to all additives when eating beer-battered fish, rotating between lemon, tartar sauce, ketchup and Four Monks California Malt Vinegar English Style.

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH, fish & chips

The fish was as good as it looked. 🙂

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH, fish & chips

They tried to get me to order dessert, which I should have since everything is made in-house but I was full and didn’t want to overeat since I was getting right back out on the open road. In hindsight, a regrettable decision. Something to look forward to next time along with one of their famous lobster rolls! Have you had one?

They also offer a spacious inside dining experience and a bar area.

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

You can get up close and personal with the seafood…

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

…including the clams!

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH, clams

Sam’s Chowder caters to large private parties. How about an oceanfront wedding and reception? If you can’t make it to Half Moon Bay be on the lookout in the Bay Area for the Chowdermobile, Sam’s very own food truck!

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH, Chowdermobile

It was a great day on the PCH, more on that in a later post. It was x times better with my stop at the award-winning Sam’s Chowder House. The service from the hostesses to my waitress was outstanding. Others came by as well asking me if I needed anything. For great scenery and atmosphere, tasty fish & chips and of course their New England Clam Chowder, you know where you need to get to. I don’t know how I never new about this place before. 🙂

Sam's Chowder House, Half Moon Bay, California, PCH

Checkout them out on Facebook and Twitter. Where have you found great New England Clam Chowder in your travels?