Day Trips

Posted By on June 28, 2013

Editor’s Note: As part of the Carson Valley Times venture, we’re aiming to feature one day trip per month, exploring the area that so beautifully surrounds our Valley and hopefully turning our readers onto some new adventures along the way. If you have an area or destination you’d like us to explore in the future, e-mail your ideas to joey@carsonvalleytimes.com

The criteria is simple. Somewhere within a 3-4 hour drive that defines the very idea of a getaway for you. Generally, the shorter the drive, the better.

First up is not necessarily a day trip (although, if you were bound and determined you could cram in a lunch,  a decent hike and maybe a stop at the beach before making the drive home in one day), but it has become our very favorite getaway over the years.

PACIFICA, CALIFORNIA 

by Joey Crandall

Rockaway Beach during a slight break in the rainy weather.

Rockaway Beach during a slight break in the rainy weather.

Distance: About 220 miles

Drive time: Four hours – five if you stop for breakfast or lunch.

How to get there: It’s pretty simple up to the Bay bridge. Take 88 west, then the 89 to US 50 over Echo Summit. The 50 becomes Interstate 80 outside of Sacramento and you ride that over the Bay bridge, where it becomes the 101 South. From there merge onto I-280 South toward Daly City and then change over to the California 1 south into Pacifica.

Tips: Time your trip to avoid the log jam just prior to the Bay Bridge. That means leaving at 7 or 8 here and showing up at 1 or 2 there with a good amount of time for pit stops. Also, Sunday afternoons at that junction are just as bad as weekday rush hour.

The Destination

Pacifica tripRecital 2013 106

Tucked away just south and west of downtown San Francisco is Pacifica – an Oceanside haven with a small-town feel seemingly better suited for coastal Oregon than the Bay area.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area serves as a hearty barrier between the hustle of big city life and this secluded jewel just north of Half Moon Bay. The San Francisco Zoo is a  10-minute drive away and a BART Station in nearby Daly City connects you easily with the rest of the Bay area.

But we’ve found plenty to do within the city limits over the years to keep us busy for two- or three-day stops.

Most of our day trips will be geared more toward younger families as we have two children. That in mind, our favorite stop above all the others has become the Frontierland Park.

The Frontierland Park includes a large, sprawling playground built by community volunteers 12 years ago.

The Frontierland Park includes a large, sprawling playground built by community volunteers 12 years ago.

A group of Pacifica moms got together in 1999 with the goal of building the ultra-park for the community’s children. The end result, after several years of planning and consulting with hundreds of the community’s children, was a widely-sprawling playground set that included everything from cargo nets, tight ropes and tire swings, to puppet stages, a miniature train station and a musical corner with climbing wall attached. Suffice it to say, if you are ever in the area with kids, this is a must-see.

Every type of climbing mechanism and monkey bars you can imagine are available at Frontierland Park.

Every type of climbing mechanism and monkey bars you can imagine are available at Frontierland Park.

Train station with ticket counter and phone line.

Train station with ticket counter and phone line.

The entire playground is boxed in on all sides, to keep the little ones from escaping. The gateway is made up of ceramic tiles painted by the children who were responsible for the park's creative input.

The entire playground is boxed in on all sides, to keep the little ones from escaping. The gateway is made up of ceramic tiles painted by the children who were responsible for the park’s creative input.

The park is our favorite, but recreational enthusiasts will be happy with the ample hiking, running, walking and biking trails, particularly the ones that run along the ocean. Pacifica State Beach is a haven for surfers and the drive down to Half Moon Bay on Highway 1 is a scenic wonder.

Finally, as with every day trip, we’ll provide out favorite spot to eat, and in this case, we have two.

GORILLA BARBEQUE
2145 Coast Highway, Pacifica, Calif.

www.gorillabbq.com

Set in a train car full of stuffed gorillas, the quirky setting can't beat the food at Gorilla Barbecue.

Set in a train car full of stuffed gorillas, the quirky setting can’t beat the food at Gorilla Barbecue.

If you’re a fan of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, you might have seen this barbecue-in-a-train-car featured in the past. It certainly lives up to the hype. Everything is made on site, and the portions are huge. We highly recommend the brisket and the pulled pork. And the homemade barbecue sauce. The macaroni and cheese (with goldfish cracker crust baked on top) is also phenomenal.

Combos come with a pair of sides, rice and beans and corn bread.

Combos come with a pair of sides, rice and beans and corn bread.

COLOMBO’S DELICATESSEN

484 Manor Plz, Pacifica

No Web site, but they do well on Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/colombos-delicatessen-pacifica

Colombo's is set inside a Safeway shopping center. If you aren't looking for it, you'll miss it. And that would be a shame.

Colombo’s is set inside a Safeway shopping center. If you aren’t looking for it, you’ll miss it. And that would be a shame.

A full on Italian delicatessen, they make their own breads and offer a full sampling of specialty items. We go for the sandwiches, though:

Pacifica tripRecital 2013 064

Under the Tuscan Sub with roast turkey, deli dressing and cherry tomatoes on Dutch crunch.

The 49er with roast beef, bleu cheese and red onion on Dutch crunch.

The 49er with roast beef, bleu cheese and red onion on Dutch crunch.