At first the quiet
and solitude was a little unsettling. Especially with rowdy kids. We explored
our tent - unzipped all the canvas windows, climbed up and down on the bunks,
swept out some sand - and pondered what to do next. We explored the "comfort stations",
complete with individual showers, trendy architecture and an outdoor fireplace.
This camping thing was certainly looking better. We walked over to the General
Store for a look-see. Yum. Throw out the cook stove, this was gourmet take out
- including a children's menu with macaroni and cheese! Yeah, I was going to like
this camping trip. The kids discovered the playground and were pleasantly surprised
to encounter quite a few other children to hang out with. They set a date to hook
up for the nightly movie in the Ranch House (Disney rules).
We set off on foot toward the Pacific. Crossing Highway 1, we found some great
trails that meandered toward the beach. Other than the bothersome Poison Oak,
we encountered a plethora of native plants, birds and sea life. My daughter was
mesmerized by the huge starfish. My son couldn’t get enough of the sandy banks
for rolling and jumping. And best of all, the beach was deserted and ever so peaceful.
That’s what Costanoa is about. Peace and quiet. It’s a chance to combine some
quality family time with some nature without the trials and work of the usual
camping trip. The kids loved their first night in the Eco Tent. Giggles and flashlights
and the inevitable midnight trip to the comfort station. But that trip got us
a memorable moonrise, complete with the muffled neighs of the resident horses
huddled under the Eucalyptus trees.
The morning brought lots of fog and restless kids. We headed out by car to
explore the coastline. State beaches line the coast and we explored a few before
heading up to the famed surf spot, Mavericks, just past Half Moon Bay. Unfortunately
the surf was flat, but Pillar Point Harbor was quaint and picturesque. Restless
again, we were on the move to explore as much as possible of the region as the
sun came through the fog. It would take a week to hit every major area attraction
so we chose a few family activities and in our newfound peaceful mode we moseyed
down the road.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park? Pigeon Point Lighthouse? Año Nuevo State Reserve?
Butano State Park? Berry Picking? So many choices. Here’s the rundown:
Elephant Seals & Interpretive Center at Año Nuevo - a bit of a hike,
but well worth it to see the elephant seals. Also an interpretive center with
a bookstore and displays.
Pigeon Point Tidepools – you can spend hours treading the tidepools
looking at little sea creatures. Go during low tide, wear sneakers or water shoes
(they will surely get wet). Be sure to leave all of the sea creatures in their
Birdwatching at Pescadero Marsh Nature Preserve – There are guided
tours on Saturdays (10:30am) and Sundays (1 pm). The kids may get a little bored,
but if you let them play in the mud, they’ll love it!
Berrypicking at Coastways Ranch – you can pick your own olallieberries
(June/July), pumpkins (October), kiwi fruit (November/December), or Christmas
trees (December). This memory will last a lifetime. Call (650) 879-0414 for more
Phipps Country Ranch – is great fun for the family. Kids can feed
the cow, donkey, goats or potbelly pig. The farm store is eclectic and worth browsing
for homemade jam, fresh picked fruit, and veggies. Call (650) 879-0371 for info or see their website www.phippscountry.com .
If that’s not enough to keep you busy, Costanoa organizes their own activities
right on site. Most events take place on the weekend, but busier holiday weeks
can also hold some treasures. Enjoy local jazz, rock and soloists every Saturday
night throughout the summer. Or hunker down to hear some Native American Storytelling
by the local Ohlone tribes. Hear the adventures of “old man Coyote” around the
fire. Or take in some yoga or a naturalist hike. Or hook up with one of the resident
cowboys for an excursion on horseback. The Tennessee Walking Horses look a bit
out of place on the coast, but these gentle horses will take you on a gorgeous
trail ride with views of the coastline and the mighty Pacific.
And last, but certainly not least, think of enrolling the kids in the Costanoa
Kids Camp. For campers ages 5-12, this weekend camp introduces kids to a range
of activities – plus gives you some grown-up time for a special hike, picnic or
even a massage.
Costanoa has a variety of accommodations to choose from. Premium lodge rooms,
cabins, deluxe tents, Eco tents or even a spot to pitch your own tent, but we
recommend the tent experience. Eco tents have bunk beds; Adventure tents have
a double with one twin and are a step up, some include linens. Prices range from
$30 (own tent) to $240 for a fancy lodge room. The Eco Tent is $70. Check for
frequent specials. Costanoa is also a great place for a family reunion.
For reservations see their website at
www.costanoa.com or call (800)738-7477. Their direct line is (650)879-1100.
Details: Costanoa, P.O. Box 842, 2001 Rossi Road at Hwy 1, Pescadero, CA 94060.
Located along the pristine coast of California's scenic Highway 1. Centrally located
near San Francisco (55 miles), Santa Cruz (25 miles), San Jose (45 miles), and
Half Moon Bay (25 miles).