Driving on Highway 1 From Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz


California‘s Highway One has lot of fantastic stretches — it’s hard to stop yourself from saying “oh wow, look at that” every two minutes. One of the most beautiful sections goes from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz, and I was lucky enough to get to drive it (or ride it, as I was the passenger, if you want to get technical) on Sunday with blue skies. There are countless pull-off points for taking photos, but there are two detours you don’t want to miss and they both happen to be in Pescadero: Duarte’s Tavern and Pigeon Point Lighthouse.


Duarte’s Tavern is actually two miles off Highway One, right in the middle of the tiny town of Pescadero. There aren’t really any dining opportunities on this stretch of Hwy 1 so you will be thankful to have this top-notch restaurant which has been around since 1894. Both Duarte’s and its surroundings will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Even though it’s “in the middle of nowhere” (it’s actually smack in the middle of Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz), it’s a popular foodie destination as it won a James Beard Foundation honorary award for being an American Classic. We didn’t feel like waiting, so we sat in the bar, which actually doubles as the town liquor store. The bar offers the full menu, so we were able to try the famous artichoke soup, which went well with the fresh-out-of-the-oven bread. Duarte’s is also known for its pie and supposedly has the best ollalieberry pie in the country. But it also might have the only ollalieberry pie in the world, so we opted for apple instead and it was excellent.

After lunch, we got back on Hwy One and drove a few more miles down to Pigeon Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse, which is one of the tallest in the U.S., is visible from the road, but if you have the time it’s worth it to get out and walk around. You can’t go in the lighthouse but the grounds are very pretty. There happens to be a hostel there too (a few structures off to the side of the lighthouse) and it looks pretty nice — it even has an outdoor hot tub. If you’re looking for budget lodging in the area, this hostel is definitely something to consider. Once you see the lighthouse, you might end up checking in anyway because you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the views.

4 Responses to Driving on Highway 1 From Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz

  1. Kelly May 3, 2009 at 10:43 pm #

    I could go all Bolinian (like Bolinas)but I’m not that way…
    Pescadero is awesome – and they are not making any more of it!
    The pie at Duartes is worth waiting for no matter how long the wait and if you want to appear like a local ask for a bowl of 50/50…
    Nice photographs – now take them down… just kidding!

  2. Travelogged
    May 4, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    What’s a bowl of 50/50?

  3. Don Nadeau May 12, 2009 at 1:32 pm #

    Really fine post. Thank you.
    I travel way out of way to visit Duarte’s. Am addicted to its Cream of Green Chile soup and, well, everything there. Places like it hard to find. Ask for counter seat to avoid so long a wait.

  4. Hilarye May 15, 2009 at 12:29 pm #

    I actually am planning this very trip for May! How funny! I grew up in northern california and love both Half Moon and Santa Cruz. I’ve never been to Duarte’s so we will have to make sure to stop!

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