I can’t think of a better place to hang out than my hometown. Whether you’re flying in from another continent, another state, or just popping in for a weekend get away, SO much about this town is wonderful. The beaches, the hills, the food, the people… I’m a total fan. & honestly? I think you will be too.
Read on for more of my favorites here! There’s more than you could ever hope to do in a weekend, so pick & choose… or come back again & again!
Get a drink at La Costanera on the back porch while watching the sunset & sitting around the fire. I like their sangria, which is different than I’ve had at other places. Their food is Peruvian & is meat heavy, which isn’t really my thing, but the ribs are very delicious. (Make a reservation if you’re going for dinner, but no need if it’s just happy hour!) Details on happy hour & more right here.
Have dinner at Cafe Gibraltar. Let this be your nice dinner. It’s some of the best food I’ve eaten & worth every penny. (Make a reservation or sit at the wine bar.)
Spend a day at the beach? Fuel up at Tres Amigos. The burritos are good & the free chips & salsa are even better. 😉
If you’re on the northern end of town (near the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve or Montara Beach), the other really good Mexican restaurant is El Gran Amigo. I love their veggie burrito. YUM. (This place has less ambiance than Tres. It’s way more hole in the wall. Food’s just as delish though.)
**People in town pick sides sometimes…. I don’t have an official favorite: the food is really good at both taquerias. I probably know the guys at El Gran better than Tres just because I’ve been going there forever, but I like the unlimited chips & salsa at Tres (it’s my absolute favorite food on the planet). Try ’em both & tell me: Are you Tres or El Gran? haha. 🙂
Fish tacos at Flying Fish Grill. It’s Hawaiian themed. (Same thing: Make a reservation.)
Want something easy & hot & delicious? Get the Lobster Roll with French Fries at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. Skip the beer, but get an Arnold Palmer. (Make a reservation if it’s a nice weekend.)
It’s Italia serves the best pizza in town. And a lot of the best of everything else, too. (Reservation…)
Have the classic fish & chips experience at Barbara’s Fishtrap. The fish & chips is pretty okay, but the decor is fabulous & the servers have all been there forever. Also, their clam chowder is award-winning. (No reservations & they only take cash. The line is long on weekends, but you can wander around while you wait.)
Dessert or mini fire roasted pizzettas (they’re more flatbread than filling, but very very delicious) at the Moonside Bakery & Cafe. For desserts, I love the eclairs, the meringues, & the chocolate chip cookies (I’m actually pretty sure they are the best ones I’ve ever had.)
Drive south to the Pigeon Point lighthouse. Try to catch sunset here (it’s fabulous).
Sunset at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay. They have a bagpiper who plays on the cliffs & it’s really great. Park on the street before the little guard tower if you don’t want to pay for a valet. Optional: Get drinks & sit on the patio. Optional +2: Stay here.
Get massages at the new Cloud Nine Spa. It looks like a house, but once you’re inside they treat you like it’s heaven. Also, it’s priced pretty dang reasonably. (They are still fairly new, so you should be able to call & make a same day appointment. To be safe, get online & make a reservation on the Internet – it’s easy! – a few days ahead!)
Park at Kelly State Beach in town & walk down the beach. You do have to pay to park (because it’s a State Beach) & it’s usually super crowded right where people park, but if you walk North or South from the beach access point, it’s usually pretty empty. Why stick where it’s crowded if you could have part of this wide, sandy beach to yourself?
Walk down Main Street to get a feel of the town. Stop in at Feed & Fuel to checkout all of the things you need to be a cowboy & say hi to the baby chicks. They’re really cute.
Head up Highway 92 to Repetto’s & buy yourself some gorgeous flowers. For cheap. & they’re gorgeous (did I mention that?) (Warning: On weekends &/or really nice days, this can be a traffic stop. Don’t go if it’s crazy gorgeous out.)
Walk out to Maverick’s & pretend there’s big waves. (They get up to 35 feet tall when it’s the season, usually February through March, although the rest of the year it’s pretty quiet & you can usually find some good crabs.)
Go tidepooling at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Look up low tide ahead of time & then go check out the hermit crabs, anemones, & more! While you’re here, take a walk up the hill to the Forbidden Forest (just cross the little bridge and head up the hill). It’s one of the most beautiful forested areas I’ve ever seen. Seriously.
*Drive South to Santa Cruz to continue the adventure! (Of course, that needs its own city guide.)
Bring jackets. It gets windy & cold here. Even when it’s sunny.
Get out early. There’s less people out when it’s early. & on the weekend, the traffic isn’t as bad if you get going sooner rather than later.
Look for dolphins! You can see them playing off the coast if you’re lucky & have a good eye.
If you come during the fall, you’ll get pumpkin patches & Halloween fun (the best). The second weekend in October is Pumpkin Festival, where lots of artists come to share their wares, live music is everywhere, & the best food is being sold from stands along Main Street. The traffic is crazy, but it’s a totally fun weekend!
Our Fourth of July parade is kind of a big deal. (It goes down Main Street.) Fireworks are hit & miss though, depending on the weather. Fog isn’t conducive to seeing the most fireworks…
Around May, the highways bloom with yellow mustard flowers. <3
How busy it is here depends less on how nice it is in Half Moon Bay & more on how hot it is inland. Record breaking heat in the rest of the Bay Area? Expect traffic to be crazy & plan accordingly. Of course, week days are almost EMPTY compared to weekends, so if you can, head over then.
Respect this place & the locals! A lot of the people who live here have been here a really really long time. Sometimes we’ve been locals for many generations. It’s hard to see people take over your home town without respecting it, so please treat the place like you would if you were a local. Pack your trash home from the beach, don’t bother sea life, don’t take things home that you shouldn’t (read: shells & other beach goodies), & just generally be a good person. (That’s probably more of a good life reminder than anything else though.)
Photography: Simone Anne