When it comes to planning a day trip or a short getaway near San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is a destination that should be on your radar. With its stunning beaches, charming downtown area, and a variety of activities to enjoy, Half Moon Bay offers something for everyone.
Whether you’re a nature lover looking to explore the rugged coastline, a foodie in search of delicious seafood, or just in need of a relaxing day at the beach, Half Moon Bay has got you covered. So, if you’re wondering how to spend a day in Half Moon Bay, keep reading to discover some of the best things to do and see in this coastal town.
Why visit Half Moon Bay?
Half Moon Bay boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it an ideal destination for beach enthusiasts. Whether you want to swim, hike, explore tide pools, or simply relax on the sandy shores, Half Moon Bay has it all. The beaches here are known for their calm waters and expansive views, offering a perfect backdrop for a day of leisure and fun.
Additionally, Half Moon Bay is home to a quaint downtown area, where you can find a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Take a stroll down Main Street and experience the charm of this small beach town. From locally-owned boutiques to delicious eateries, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Location and accessibility
Located just 45 minutes south of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is easily accessible by car. The scenic drive along the coast is part of the experience, as you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the ocean and surrounding landscapes. If you’re coming from the East Bay, Half Moon Bay is just a one-hour drive away.
Once you arrive in Half Moon Bay, getting around is a breeze. The town is small and walkable, making it easy to explore the various attractions and points of interest. However, if you prefer to cover more ground, renting a bike is a popular option. The Coastal Trail, which stretches for 4 miles along the coast, is a great route for biking and walking.
With its convenient location and accessibility, Half Moon Bay is the perfect destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway. So, pack your sunscreen, grab your camera, and get ready to create memories in this coastal paradise.
Half Moon Bay Overview
History of Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay is one of the oldest settlements in San Mateo County, originally known as Spanishtown in the 1840s. It has retained its small-town charm with a historic downtown that showcases its rich history.
You can explore the town’s various historical sites, such as the White House of Half Moon Bay and the old jail-turned-Half Moon Bay Coastside History Museum. To learn more about the town’s history, you can take a self-guided walking tour using the Treasures of Half Moon Bay booklet.
Climate and Weather
Half Moon Bay enjoys a comfortable climate throughout the year, with average temperatures ranging from 45 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. The summers are pleasant, making it an ideal time to visit for camping, hiking, and beach activities.
However, it’s always a good idea to dress in layers as the coastal area experiences temperature changes throughout the day. The town is also known for its beautiful wildflowers in spring and occasionally foggy days. Whether you’re a nature lover or seeking outdoor adventures, Half Moon Bay’s climate offers a great backdrop for your activities.
Things to Do in Half Moon Bay
If you’re visiting Half Moon Bay, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained. Here are some of the top things to do in Half Moon Bay:
Embark on a scenic hike along the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail, which offers breathtaking views of the coastline and opportunities to spot wildlife.
Take a trip to Pigeon Point Lighthouse and learn about its rich history. Enjoy the dramatic vistas and explore the interpretive center to see maritime artifacts up close.
Head to Swanton Berry Farm and experience the beauty of a working organic farm. Pick your own strawberries, take a farm tour, and enjoy delicious organic treats.
Explore Shark Fin Cove
Don’t miss out on the unique beauty of Shark Fin Cove. Marvel at the rock formation that looks like a shark fin and spend some time soaking in the stunning views.
These activities offer a taste of the diverse attractions and natural wonders that Half Moon Bay has to offer. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or simply looking for a relaxing getaway, Half Moon Bay has something for everyone.
Best Seafood Restaurants in Half Moon Bay
When it comes to seafood, Half Moon Bay offers some fantastic dining options. Whether you’re craving fresh fish, decadent lobster rolls, or mouth-watering oysters, these seafood restaurants have got you covered.
Sam’s Chowder House is a popular spot for seafood lovers. With a stunning waterfront location and a menu filled with delicious dishes, it’s no wonder this restaurant has gained a loyal following. Don’t miss their signature lobster roll or the fresh oysters from the raw bar.
Known for its craft beer and delicious seafood, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is a must-visit for foodies. Indulge in their fish and chips or try their award-winning lobster rolls. Pair your meal with one of their locally brewed beers for a truly satisfying experience.
For an incredible seafood feast with breathtaking ocean views, head to the Ritz Carlton Ocean Terrace. This outdoor dining experience offers a selection of delectable oysters, poached prawns, Dungeness crab, and more. Make a reservation and enjoy the ultimate seafood dining experience.
These seafood restaurants in Half Moon Bay are sure to satisfy your cravings and provide a memorable dining experience by the coast.
Enjoy the Beaches of Half Moon Bay
When visiting Half Moon Bay, it’s essential to take advantage of the beautiful beaches the area has to offer. Here are three must-visit beaches in Half Moon Bay:
Half Moon Bay State Beach
Located just off Highway 1, Half Moon Bay State Beach stretches four miles and provides an ideal setting for sunbathing, picnicking, and fishing. With its sandy shores and picturesque views, it’s a perfect spot to relax and unwind.
Pillar Point Harbor
Pillar Point Harbor is not only a hub for fishing boats and water activities but also a great place to enjoy the beach. Take in the views of the Pacific Ocean as you stroll along the shoreline or hop on a bike and explore the coastal trail.
For a more secluded and serene experience, head to Poplar Beach. This dog-friendly beach is known for its sandy shores and stunning natural beauty. It’s perfect for a leisurely walk, beachcombing, or simply enjoying the sound of crashing waves.
Whether you’re a sunbather, a nature lover, or an adventure seeker, the beaches of Half Moon Bay offer something for everyone to enjoy. Don’t miss the opportunity to soak up the sun and take in the coastal beauty during your visit.
Experience Water Activities
For those looking for some aquatic adventures, Half Moon Bay offers a range of water activities to enjoy. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced water sports enthusiast, there’s something for everyone. Two popular options include kayaking with Half Moon Bay Kayak Co. and surfing at Mavericks Beach.
Kayaking with Half Moon Bay Kayak Co.
Half Moon Bay Kayak Co.: offers kayaking and paddleboarding experiences in the beautiful Half Moon Bay area. Explore the tranquil waters of Pillar Point Harbor or venture out into the wild waters of the Pacific Ocean. They provide rentals, tours, and even classes for those new to kayaking or paddleboarding. Discover the beauty of the coast and get up close and personal with marine life.
Surfing at Mavericks Beach
Mavericks Beach: is renowned for its massive waves and attracts surfers from around the world. This break is famous for its incredible waves, reaching up to 50 feet in height. However, it is important to note that Mavericks Beach is not suitable for beginners, as the conditions can be extremely challenging and dangerous. If you’re an experienced surfer looking for a thrilling ride, Mavericks Beach is a must-visit spot.
Experience the thrill of kayaking or test your skills on the legendary waves at Mavericks Beach. These water activities offer a unique way to explore the natural beauty of Half Moon Bay while enjoying some adrenaline-pumping adventures.
Wineries and Distilleries in Half Moon Bay
For wine enthusiasts and spirit connoisseurs, Half Moon Bay offers a selection of wineries and a distillery that are well worth a visit. Here are a few notable establishments to check out:
La Nebbia Winery
La Nebbia Winery is known for its wide sampling of grape varietals sourced from California’s top vineyards. Their gardens and picnic areas provide the perfect setting to relax and enjoy their fine wines, and they even welcome pets on their patio.
Located in downtown Half Moon Bay, Barterra Winery offers a range of wines sourced from renowned regions such as Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, and Mendocino. Their tasting room provides indoor and outdoor seating, allowing visitors to savor their wines along with a cheese or charcuterie plate.
Jettywave Distillery offers a unique distillery experience in Half Moon Bay. They are known for their award-winning gin and the first California bourbon to rival Kentucky’s finest. Visitors can enjoy their concoctions at The Swell Lounge, an outdoor bonfire lounge that provides a fresh and al fresco drinking experience.
If you’re a wine or spirit lover, exploring the wineries and distillery in Half Moon Bay is a great way to spend your day. Whether you prefer wine tastings or unique crafted cocktails, these establishments offer a delightful experience for your palate.
Extend Your Stay in Half Moon Bay
After experiencing a day of fun and relaxation in Half Moon Bay, you may find yourself wanting to extend your stay and continue exploring this charming coastal town. Luckily, Half Moon Bay offers a range of accommodation options to suit every preference and budget. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious beachfront resort or a cozy bed and breakfast, there’s something for everyone. Here are a few recommended accommodations in Half Moon Bay:
- The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay: Located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this luxurious hotel offers stunning views, a full-service spa, and access to championship golf courses. Website
- Harbor View Inn: Situated across from Pillar Point Harbor, this inn provides guests with picturesque views and proximity to local attractions and restaurants. Website
- Seal Cove Inn: Nestled on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean, this inn offers a serene atmosphere and attentive staff. It’s the perfect retreat for nature lovers. Website
- Quality Inn: Centrally located near Silicon Valley and San Francisco, this hotel provides comfortable and affordable accommodations for travelers. Website
Whether you choose to relax in a luxury resort, enjoy the quaint charm of a bed and breakfast, or opt for a budget-friendly hotel, extending your stay in Half Moon Bay will allow you to further immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquility of this coastal paradise.