Stay On The Half Moon Bay Coastside
Half Moon Bays wide variety of lodging offers a perfect fit for everyone from romantic inns and luxurious coastal resorts with breathtaking views to budget-friendly leading brand hotels, bed and breakfast inns & motels in this Bay Area community.
Choose your lodging in one of the quaint coastal Northern California communities of Montara, Moss Beach, Half Moon Bay, and Pescadero. Then visit our shopping areas, explore things to do, and restaurants for your visit to the San Mateo County Coastside.
Where Exactly Is Half Moon Bay
This sleepy coastal city isnt terribly far from anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although, always expect some traffic, especially if youre visiting on the weekend.
- Palo Alto: 35 minutes
- San Francisco: 45 minutes
- Oakland: 50 minutes
- Santa Cruz: 60 minutes
- Napa Valley: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Because of its location, Half Moon Bay makes for the perfect day or weekend trip from San Francisco, Santa Cruz, or the SF Bay Peninsula.
BUT these estimated driving times are without traffic. And theres sometimes a whole lot of it. This is primarily because theres only one way in and one way out of Half Moon Bay, depending on where youre coming from. And the streets get backed up, like really backed up.
Suffice it to say, plan to leave home for HMB on the earlier side to avoid any traffic mishaps. And to be on the safe side, just expect some traffic.
If youve never been here before, or dont have access to easy transportation, I highly suggest you spend the night! Yes, you can most definitely knock a bunch of these things to do in Half Moon Bay off your HMB bucket list in one day, but why cram it all in?
Psst: Half Moon Bay actually spans along the Pacific Coast Highway from Montara to Pescadero , encompassing a bunch of small towns, but this post will be covering the coastal town of Half Moon Bay itself.
I have a separate post on my favorite spots between San Francisco and Santa Cruz which covers the entire area .
Enjoy Four Miles Of Coastline On Half Moon Bay State Beach
Half Moon Bay State Beach is the large stretch of sandy coastline that encompasses several other named beaches, including Francis Beach , Venice Beach, Dunes Beach, and many more.
All the spots along this 4-mile stretch are gorgeous however, dogs are not permitted anywhere on the state beach. If youre looking for a dog-friendly beach in Half Moon Bay, the one by the Ritz allows dogs!
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Half Moon Bay State Beaches
The Half Moon Bay coastline is made up of multiple state beaches, stretching along several miles of wide, sandy coast including Surfers’ Beach, Dunes Beach, Venice Beach, and Francis Beach.
Sightseeing and nature appreciation are the most popular activities on these beaches, and tourists should keep in mind that the weather is often quite cold and windy, even during summertime, when thick fog often blocks the sun.
Instead of swimming, visitors come here to appreciate the natural beauty and to breathe in the refreshing sea air. Many visitors also enjoy fishing and picnicking at the Half Moon Bay Beaches.
A campground above the beaches offers overnight accommodations campsite reservations must be made in advance.
Get A Seafood Lunch At Sams Chowder House
One of the best places to eat in Half Moon Bay is Sams Chowder House. Dont let the long lines and the traffic on this stretch of Hwy 1 scare you off this is well worth it!
The parking lot is often full at Sams, so feel free to park along the highway and walk to the restaurant from there.
Sams Chowder House is best-known for its clam chowder. In a state as obsessed with clam chowder as California, its saying something to say its some of the best chowder youll be able to find anywhere in the state!
Its also known for its lobster rolls, which you can order Naked or Dressed . They are absolutely delicious!
The fish and chips is also perfectly done, and we had some fantastic oysters there as well.
Insider tip: They offer pick-up at a separate window if you dont want to wait, and you can also get some clam chowder prepared to go so you can have leftovers!
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Admire The Tidepools Of The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
There are tons of tidepools around the Half Moon Bay area, including around Manhattan Beach if you walk south a bit.
Some of the best tidepools, though, can be found at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve which is located around Moss Beach.
Theres a coastal trail and a beach where you can see into the tide pools at low tide.
Level Lea Barn In Pescadero
The Level Lea Barn is the perfect rustic picturesque backdrop for photos. This historic barn has been preserved and even adorned with sweet heart art. Its located right on the main road in Pescadero if youre heading towards Arcangeli Grocery Co. from Highway 1.
The barn is located at 1743 Pescadero Creek Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060.
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San Francisco Sights: Half Moon Bay is about 45 minutes south of San Francisco, making a day trip into the city and even the surrounding area a great option for tourists. For those staying in San Francisco, there are plenty of things to do with kids, and many of the city’s top attractions can be visited on a walking tour.
Bay Area Attractions: Across the bay via the Golden Gate Bridge or by ferry past Alcatraz Island, tourists can spend a day exploring the Marin Headlands or poking around the charming town of Sausalito. To the east, tourists can take the Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Oakland, a city known for its ethnic restaurants and lakeside park. Younger travelers will enjoy the nearby college town of Berkeley, which is full of hip hangouts.
Instagrammable Places In Half Moon Bay California
Shoreline cliff views at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay.
Shoreline cliff views at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay.
My hometown of Half Moon Bay is really a beautiful place, and still remains an under the radar hidden gem. It’s mostly known for the Pumpkin Festival and beautiful pumpkin patches during the fall season. But the reality is that it’s a stunning photography location any time of the year.
Half Moon Bay is located 45 minutes south from San Francisco is the perfect destination for a day trip to escape the city. The temperatures are much cooler than most other areas of the bay area, so Half Moon Bay is a great place to escape high temperatures during a heat wave.
Because of the mountain range surrounding the valley in Half Moon Bay, this coastal town has its own unique climate. The weather is often foggy in Half Moon Bay, especially during the summer months of May – July. The warmest and sunniest weather on the coast runs through August – October, often referred to as an Indian Summer.
In this blog post you can see many examples of photography locations in Half Moon Bay. You can hover your mouse over each image to see exactly where the photo was taken.
Cliff views at Miramontes Point Beach in Half Moon Bay.
Cliff views at Miramontes Point Beach in Half Moon Bay.
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Check Out Pigeon Point Lighthouse
While down near Pescadero, be sure you make a little side trip to visit the gorgeous Pigeon Point lighthouse, built in 1871.
Its one of the most stunning lighthouses in California, the tallest lighthouse on the West Coast, and one of the tallest lighthouses in the entire country!
One of the coolest things about this lighthouse is that it actually doubles as a hostel, meaning that you can stay the night in it.
Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park
Perpetually covered in dense fog that obscures visibility, this coastal site was in dire need of a lighthouse when the Pigeon Point Lighthouse was built in 1871 after a series of shipwrecks. Standing on a cliff, this 115-foot lighthouse is one of the tallest in the United States.
Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park features a visitor center, bookshop, and accommodations. Within the buildings that used to accommodate the light station staff, the HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel provides dormitory-style accommodations and vacation rental houses.
The coastal areas and rocky reefs around the lighthouse are full of marine life, and this is a great spot for wildlife viewing. Seals regularly swim from the shore beyond the surf, and during whale migration season , the amazing mammals travel down the Pacific Coast.
Although the lighthouse itself cannot be toured, guided history tours of the grounds are conducted daily each afternoon or by appointment.
Address: 210 Pigeon Point Road, Highway 1, Pescadero, California
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Dining And Shopping On Main Street
For dining and shopping, Main Street is the place to go. Visitors will enjoy browsing the unique locally owned clothing boutiques, bookstores, home decor shops, and other specialty shops. The Visitor Center on Main Street has excellent resources about the local beaches and hikes.
A popular spot on Main Street for Italian cuisine is Pasta MoonRistorante. This farm-to-table restaurant has been dedicated to sustainable culinary experiences since its opening over 30 years ago. The restaurant’s chefs make use of seasonal ingredients sourced from nearby coastal farms and ranches and from local fishermen.
Just off Main Street on a quiet side street is the Mill Rose Inn, a charming luxury bed-and-breakfast with a delightful English country-style garden. The B& B owner takes advantage of Half Moon Bay’s cool, misty climate, which allows an abundance of colorful roses and other flowers to thrive in the garden.
Majestic Scenery Is Only Minutes Away From The Lodge
Majestic scenery is only minutes away from the lodge! Make sure when booking your room it has all the amenities they offer. Apparently all rooms are not as listed. Bait and switch comes to mind. Eat early and bring your own microwave! Other than that take video instead of pics. Still photos truly don’t do the coastal views justice.
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Where To Stay In Half Moon Bay For Sightseeing
- The Miramar Inn & Suites provides excellent value along with top-notch amenities and an ideal location near the Pillar Point Harbor. The spacious guest rooms were recently remodeled and feature refrigerators, as well as air-conditioning. Travelers will also appreciate the 24-hour front desk and fitness center.
Pumpkin Season In October
During the pumpkin season in October, traffic into the “World Pumpkin Capital” slows to a crawl as visitors from San Francisco and the South Peninsula make their way into Half Moon Bay on the two-lane road. The rewarding drive offers views of rolling fields dotted with bright orange pumpkin patches, country barns, and scarecrows overlooking the ocean.
Families with small children have fun visiting the farms and picking out the perfect Halloween pumpkins. Several pumpkin farms feature attractions designed for little ones, such as pumpkin carving contests, mazes, pony rides, and petting zoos.
The most anticipated local event, the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival in mid-October, draws big crowds. This lively event on Main Street features attractions such as a parade, arts, crafts, and live music.
Festival highlights are the gigantic pumpkin competitions, with some weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds, and the creative Jack-o-Lanterns and pumpkin sculptures by the “Picasso of pumpkin carvers.”
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Hike The Pillar Point Bluff Trail
One of the prettiest hikes in Half Moon Bay is the Pillar Point Bluff hike, an easy 1.7-mile loop hike that offers views of the Pacific and Pillar Point with its distinctive radome .
This is part of the Air Force Station and its use to track aircrafts!
The hike itself is easy, partly with a boardwalk and partly unpaved, and youll find gorgeous wildflowers on the way up and ocean views at the top!
Seasonal Things To Do In Half Moon Bay
Sure, Half Moon Bay is wonderful anytime of year. BUT if you happen to find yourself visiting during one of the months below, make sure to check out the seasonal activities! Half Moon Bay is SO MUCH FUN in the fall, and I keep finding myself going back year after year!
Lemos Farms for some Fall Fun: If you have young kids, or are undoubtedly a kid at heart, youll enjoy the frozen custard and other sweet treats. It gets super crowded during the fall months, but worth it at least once. The perfect spot to pick out your pumpkin!
We went with my then-2-year-old nephew a few years ago and it was so much fun! Theres even a small petting zoo for the kids! AND corn stalks to wander through!
Wild Mustard Fields in February and March: Youre driving by and then BAM huge fields of tiny yellow flowers. Those are the wild mustard fields, popping up every February in HMB. The farm recently started letting visitors in with paid admission, after theyve had problems with people unfortunately trespassing in the past for photos. Lots more info here!
U-Pick Sunflower Fields in September and October: Always wanted to wander throughout a bright yellow sunflower field? Nows your chance at Andreotti Family Farms! This is one of my favorite fall activities in Half Moon Bay, and I can guarantee youll have oh so much fun. All my sunflower field tips here!
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Where To Stay In Half Moon Bay On Any Budget
Located less than an hours drive south of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is often visited as a day trip from the city. But with a charming downtown and miles of beautiful coastline to explore its worth staying at least a night or two.
Coastal views at the Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay
Here are a few options for staying in Half Moon Bay, no matter what your budget.
Do I Really Have To Go Back Home
Yes, even this step is optional, because if you’re on vacationwho wants the trip to end? It’s okay, you can start planning yournext trip!
Looking for ideas for more destinations within driving distance of Half Moon Bay? Try searching for places within 1.5 hours of Half Moon Bay.
Don’t forget about exploring your own hometown with a staycation.You can also find some cool day trips or get away for a weekend.Maybe try typing in a faraway location like London, Hong Kong,or Sydney, and get inspired for your dream trip around the world.
And if you know Half Moon Bay well, please help your fellowtravelers and answer their questions about Half Moon Bay!
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Half Moon Bay California
EXPERIENCE COASTAL LUXURY AT THIS NORTHERN CALIFORNIA HOTEL, SET ATOP A SECLUDED BLUFF OVERLOOKING THE PACIFIC OCEAN.
Perched atop a rugged oceanside bluff in the San Francisco Bay Area, just 30 minutes from San Francisco and Silicon Valley, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay delivers a 5-star, luxury resort experience unlike any other. Designed to be both admired and experienced, the hotel celebrates small details with outdoor firepits surrounded by Adirondack chairs, a Club Lounge offering local wines and spa treatments driven by the seasons.
To receive email updates on premium offers, news and events forThe Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, please register here.
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
This long standing brewery and restaurant has been a long time favorite with locals and visitors alike. Beer enthusiasts can enjoy craft brews, and the menu has elevated comfort foods and pub food. The weekend brunch is also very popular.
The patio is dog-friendly and they even have house-made dog treats. The restaurant is located walking distance to the Princeton harbor.
Pacific Ocean cliff views from the Pacific Coast Highway in Pescadero.
Sunset over the Pacific Ocean at Poplar Beach.
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Check Out The Waves Of Mavericks
North of Half Moon Bay State Beach is the world-famous Mavericks Beach, known for its big wave surfing competition which it used to host annually.
Unfortunately, its since been called off due to the unpredictability of big waves and the difficulty of organizing a contest around that.
However, you can still visit the beach and watch the massive waves crash onto the shore. They can be large any time of year but particularly in the winter months.
Stay away from the water as this beach is prone to dangerous sneaker waves! You might spot a few surfers here, but youll find more over at Surfers Beach, which I cover below.
Half Moon Bay To Napa Road Trip Planner
Here’s a sample itinerary for a drive from Half Moon Bay to Napa. If you’re planning a road trip to Napa, you can research locations to stop along the way. Traveling with a dog or cat? View pet-friendly stops between Half Moon Bay and Napa. Camping along the way? View RV campgrounds between Half Moon Bay and Napa. Find the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions based on themost talked about places recommended by Trippy members.
9:00 am start in Half Moon Baydrive for about 15 minutes
9:15 am eat at Wakuriyastay for about 1 hour and leave at 10:15 amdrive for about 19 minutes
stay for about 1 hour and leave at 11:34 amdrive for about 14 minutes
stay for about 2 hours and leave at 1:48 pmdrive for about 29 minutes
stay for about 1 hour and leave at 3:17 pmdrive for about 14 minutes
stay for about 1 hour and leave at 4:31 pmdrive for about 22 minutes
stay for about 1 hour and leave at 5:53 pmdrive for about 19 minutes
6:12 pm stay at The Meritage Resort and Spastay for about 1 hour and leave at 7:12 pmdrive for about 8 minutes
7:20 pm arrive in Napa
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