Pacifica, Calif. Great Hideaway South of San Francisco

If you're looking for a vacation stop with hotels on the beach, close to major attractions such as the city of San Francisco, yet offering a quiet, slower pace, Pacifica in San Mateo County is truly a hidden gem. In fact the residents grin with glee that they live in such a beautiful place where so few people know about it.

Home to the annual Pacifica Fog Fest each September, Pacifica does receive its fair share of visitors, especially during special events. Yet the hotels on the beach are fairly easy to book and offer some of the closest, most spectacular access to the coast that you'll find in California.

Pacifica features a public fishing pier, amazing miles of hiking trails, a golf course, restaurants, shopping and a location south of San Francisco along a treacherous slice of road known as "Devil's Slide" that can be closed during heavy storms. There are several ways into the city however, so you are never stranded from access to the busier world that surrounds this scenic place.

Rockaway Beach is the spot in Pacifica where the majority of hotels are located, and you'll find that nearly half the rooms have ocean views. At night you can rest like a baby, letting the sounds of the Pacific Ocean lull you to sleep. If there's wiggle room in your itinerary during a drive trip through California, at least drop by Pacifica and take a look at the surfers at Rockaway Beach. It's very relaxing, and a great place for a picnic lunch. Oh, they do get fog! Take a jacket.

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