Northern Californians know this tiny farming and ranching hamlet south of San Francisco as a weekend getaway, while the 643 people who live in Pescadero know it as a hometown blessed with clean air, beautiful and uncrowded beaches, and great off-road bicycling and hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Plus there are redwoods and artichokes aplenty here.
Originally a popular destination on the stagecoach route from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, Pescadero maintains the stage-stop flavor with colorful shops and eats—and is full of natural splendor, like those towering redwoods of Butano State Park.
Where to stay: Costanoa Lodge ecoresort is a log-cabin dream perched on an ocean bluff—with main lodge, cabins, and tent bungalows. Rates start at $89;