Located just 15 minutes from San Francisco, the beautiful beach-front town of Pacifica is the perfect destination for a quick three-day getaway. And now, the sometimes eccentric always alluring Sam’s Castle is open to the public for tours and curiosities once every month.
The 100+ year old castle is a cornerstone in Pacifica, filled with a history of allure and indiscretions. The site has been a speakeasy, brothel, US Coast Guard barracks, clinic, artist’s workshop, party place and residence of an established San Francisco family.
With 24 renovated rooms, the castle is a museum of gothic glory . While some claim the venue is haunted, others find great pleasure in reliving a past filled with glory and censure.
Located near Sharp Park, just off Highway 1, Sam’s Castle was built in 1908 by Henry Harrison McCloskey, the grandfather of former congressman Pete McCloskey. After the 1906 earthquake, McCloskey was spooked by the San Francisco disaster and sought refuge in the fortress he built for his family’s security, which has not “budged” since its inception.
While there are several scandalous stories about Sam’s castle, there is so much “eye candy” that one visit may not be enough. However, the town of Pacifica welcomes visitors to enjoy exclusive tours of the castle once a month, starting October 17 with additional dates to follow, including November 29, December 20, January 18, February 21, and March 8. For more information, please visithttp://www.sammazzafoundation.org/the-foundation/news-and-events/
In addition to the new, monthly Sam’s Castle tours, there are so many other attractions and things to do in Pacifica. However, it’s important to build in plenty of quiet time to unplug, unwind and chill. So, take it easy and understand that this list of suggestions for three perfect days in Pacifica is merely a summary of some of past the visitors’ favorite activities:
-Check into one of six hotels, there’s something for everyone’s taste and budget (please see hotel reference guide below).
-Enjoy lunch at Nick’s and be sure to order the signature grilled crab sandwiches or one of the hand-cut steaks.
-Take a guided Silicon Segway tour around the town and along the ocean bluffs to get your bearings and background of the area.
-To rejuvenate, take a brief power nap or leisurely walk along Rockaway Beach.
-Have a pre-dinner glass of wine, while enjoying live music at A Grape in the Fog in Rockaway Beach.
-Book a table and enjoy the sunset with a spectacular panoramic ocean view at Moonraker Restaurant, Pacifica’s fine dining restaurant.
-End the evening at Pacifica Spindrift Players for an engaging evening of theatrical entertainment.
-First thing in the morning, head out to the Pacifica Pier with fishing gear, crab trap, tackle and bait, which are all available for rent at Coastside Bait & Tackle. They also provide instructions on set-up needs to catch fish and crab (in season). As it is a public pier, a fishing license isn’t required.
-For a hearty breakfast, check out the menu at Valamar Station, which features large portions of the best, freshest fare.
-Hike/walk the gentle path of the new Devils Slide Trail. Interpretive signage and stunning views of the Pacific are the focus.
-Enjoy a spot of tea and light snack at Lovey’s Tea Shop where the mismatched china and quirky décor are easy on the eyes. The tea choices are out of this world and the menu features everything from hearty pub fare tea sandwiches, homemade soups and delicious pinafores to gluten-free options…and all the tea you can drink.
-Rest up with a quick nap or read a book on the beach.
-For dinner, head to the new Puerto 27 Peruvian Kitchen and Pisco Bar and be sure to sample a variety of menu items, tapas style.
-Check out who’s performing in town at www.pacificaperformances.org. The theatre features everything from opera to tango, blues and folk.
-Enjoy breakfast at the Salada Beach Café where choices range from healthy to hearty.
-Take a private painting class with Janet Barker on one of Pacifica’s dramatic beaches. Be sure to set up your appointment with this “art-trepreneur” ahead of time. This is an ideal activity for those that want to bring home their painting as a memento of their Pacifica getaway.
-Lunch al fresco at the Surf Spot and enjoy fresh seafood dishes and salads.
-Then, as your getaway winds down, take a pick from the several adventure options…a leisurely hike at Mori Point; powering up and down some of the most intriguing mountain bike terrain in California; paddle boarding at Linda Mar Beach; hitting the links at the Alister MacKenzie-designed Sharp Park Golf Course; or surfing the popular beaches of Pacifica (surf lessons are available for those who need a refresher).
Pacifica offers six lodging options in the budget to moderate price range and all are within walking distance to Pacifica’s beaches. Four are located at Rockaway Beach. The largest with 97 guest rooms is the Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel, a full-service hotel situated on Rockaway Beach with spacious accommodations, beautiful ocean views, a swimming pool and the upscale Moonraker restaurant. The Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Pacifica provides very comfortable accommodations with ocean views and a complimentary hot Express Start Breakfast Bar. Offering a dash of Victorian charm is the pet-friendly Pacifica Motor Inn and adjacent to Nick’s Restaurant is the Sea Breeze Motel, which is very convenient for those looking to dance the night away at Nick’s. Situated across from Linda Mar Beach is another full service hotel called the Pacifica Beach Hotel. Under new ownership, the hotel now includes several remodeled rooms, offering spectacular ocean view rooms, Jacuzzi tubs, indoor swimming pool and the new Peruvian Restaurant, Puerto 27. Further north near Sharp Park is Americas Best Value Inn, which is a short walk from Pacifica Pier and the golf course.
America’s Best Value Inn Pacifica: (877) 784-6835/www.pacifica-bestvalueinn.com
Best Western Plus Lighthouse Hotel: (650) 355-6300/ www.bestwesternlighthouse.com
Holiday Inn Express & Suites: (650) 355-5000/www.hiexpresspacifica.com
Pacifica Beach Hotel: (650) 355-9999/www.pacificabeachhotel.com
Pacifica Motor Inn: (800) 522-3772/www.pacificamotorinn.com
Sea Breeze Motel at Rockaway Beach: (650) 359-3903
Travel Tip: For more information about Pacifica, log onto VisitPacifica.com. Also highly recommended is the iPacifica mobile app for Apple or Android devices, which provides information on dining, shopping, galleries, lodging, weather and more.
Background: Pacifica. California
The natural beauty and unparalleled serenity of Pacifica, California has attracted travelers to this coastal gem for more than 100 years. Located just 15 minutes south of San Francisco, Pacifica feels worlds away but is convenient to some of the most vibrant, international communities on the West Coast. Easily accessible from Highway 1, Pacifica’s rich cultural heritage and bohemian personality make it a unique destination worth discovering.
Pacifica’s ethereal beauty is enhanced by its Mediterranean-style weather. Refreshing temperatures range from 15-20 degrees cooler than the central coast, drawing visitors to Pacifica’s shoreline to cool off during the hot summer months with its natural air-conditioning and attractive oceanfront accommodations. Likewise, Pacifica’s equally-appealing winter travel season provides a dramatic setting for those interested in off-season values and romantic getaways.
Of the many diversions, Pacifica boasts some of the most breathtaking panoramic vistas atop a wide range of hiking trails and walking adventures along the expansive beaches dotting the destination’s shoreline. Additionally, there are a range of recreational options, including surfing, boating, scuba, fishing and paragliding, birding, cycling, golf, tennis, bowling, archery and horseback riding.
According to the National Marine Sanctuaries of the West Coast, Pacifica is known to be the fourth richest area in the world for marine mammal life.
For more information about the destination of Pacifica, California, please visit http://visitpacifica.com.