Original article by Dr. Wallace J Nichols for the Huffington Post.
You’ve probably driven right by us. I’ll bet you were speeding. Next time, slow down, stop and say hi. Stay a while.
Just a few dozen miles south of San Francisco, west of Silicon Valley or north of Santa Cruz you’ll find the Slow Coast. It’s a 45-mile stretch of cool, peace and quiet. With a smattering of great organic farms, tons of wildlife, country lanes, comfortable lodging, forest trails and beaches.
If your idea of a good time is a slow walk on a windy beach, picking your own food then eating it, chilling out with a glass of wine, some live music, then hitting the sack early to wake for a wildlife hike or bicycle ride, this may be the place for you.
Things can get pretty hot, fast and crowded around the Bay Area in summertime. Not here.
We are in what I call a “traffic shadow.” Peak summer traffic flow falls steeply between the north and south ends of the SLOWCOAST, Tunitas Creek Road and Bonny Doon Road, respectively. There are simply fewer cars here, year round.
If you’re in one of those cars, why don’t you slow down and stay a while? Summer temperatures on our coast usually hover around 70 degrees. Bring your sweater, over a t-shirt, and your walking shoes. Nothing — and no one — here asks you to “move along.” The terrain itself whispers “take your time.” And the whole place is kid-friendly.
If you find yourself on the SLOWCOAST, here are a few of our favorite places to spend some time:
Beauregard Vineyards is the SLOWCOAST’s premier winery, with a classic and rustic tasting room in Bonny Doon. Taste them all and grab a bottle of the Lost Weekend house red blend for your picnic and something a bit fancier for dinner.
The Davenport Roadhouse is a perfect place for a meal and a bed and, if you’re lucky, some homegrown live music by local faves Sherry Austen Band and the Coffis Brothers. Bring that bottle of red from Beauregard in with you or pick from their big menu. Do order the hyper-local brussel sprouts and a pizza. Trust me.
In Davenport you can also choose from a Taqueria and the Whale Bakery, right in town. On the other side of the highway, across the train tracks and down the trail is Davenport Beach, know for its picturesque cliffs, especially beautiful sea glass and wildlife viewing.
The SLOWCOAST Store is right where you want to be, at the Swanton Berry Farm. Come by and pick some strawberries and hang out with us in the vintage Airstream or in one of the Adirondack chairs. You’ll probably want to pick up a super-soft Slow Coast t-shirt to sleep in, because by the end of this trip this will be your new favorite place on earth. The store also carries a variety of gifts made by local artisans including soaps, salves, lotions, honey, jewelry, sea glass and books. Pick up a little something or put together your own Slow Coast collection in a hand-made, fire-branded, reclaimed redwood box.
A little further up the coast is Pie Ranch. This is where you get your — you guessed it — pie! Check the calendar of summer events in case your visit jives with a barn dance or film night. Stop by and share some love. A few clicks more and you’re at Año Nuevo State Park — hiker heaven, wildlife haven and elephant seal rookery.
Costanoa Lodge has plenty of places to stay, including cabins, comfortable platform tents and their lodge. It also has a great restaurant and some of the Slow Coast’s best beaches and hiking trails.
It wouldn’t be a trip to the Slow Coast without a stop at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Take some photos and a bit of nautical history and if you’re interested in spending the night at the lighthouse hostel, you should plan ahead.
Next stop along the way is the town of Pescadero, with its shops, antiques and–you guessed it — great restaurants. Duarte’s Tavern is world famous. Stop in and find out why. Pick up a loaf of Arcangeli’s sourdough and head out of town for a visit to Harley Farms for the SLOWCOAST’s best goat cheese. That would go nicely with that bottle of red you’ve got there.
The third and last of the Slow Coast’s charming little towns is San Gregorio. Its general store‘s the perfect stop to pick up your next summer read, a sun hat and a cast iron skillet.
San Gregorio, Pescadero and Davenport are some favorite destinations for birders, hikers, beachcombers, tidepoolers, photographers and food-lovers. Our pocket beaches and rocky coast can be fun for a swim or a surf, depending on the wind and the waves. And true foodie locavores will be stoked.
My favorite way to experience the Slow Coast is on foot with a daypack following the little-known California Coastal Trail. A few minutes down a trail or beach and you’ll have the place to yourself, even in summer. Plan a couple of days walking north to south with the wind at your back, from point to point, camping out or staying in a real bed. Then get a shuttle or hitch a ride back to your starting point. It’ll be an adventure you’ll return to over and over again.
Because on the Slow Coast things don’t change much. It’ll be pretty much just the way it was when you come back. Just the way we like it.
In Slow We Trust.