Travel & Day Trips

Exploring the Charming Town of Half Moon Bay: A Weekend Getaway Guide

If you’re looking for a picturesque getaway from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, look no further than Half Moon Bay.

Nestled along the Pacific coast, this charming town offers a stunning natural landscape, unique local shops, and mouthwatering eateries. In this weekend getaway guide, we’ll explore the must-see attractions and hidden gems that make Half Moon Bay the perfect escape.

Getting to Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay is just a short drive from San Francisco, approximately 30 miles south along Highway 1. The scenic drive offers stunning views of the coast, making it an enjoyable journey in itself.

Want a cool way to explore? Travelers love this digital scavenger hunt which takes you all over Half Moon Bay.

Main Street Magic

Main street in Half Moon Bay

Start your Half Moon Bay adventure by strolling down historic Main Street. This quaint thoroughfare is lined with charming shops, art galleries, and cafes. Be sure to stop by the Half Moon Bay Bakery, a local institution known for its freshly baked treats. Don’t miss their delicious Artichoke Bread, a regional specialty.

A Luxurious Escape at The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

For an indulgent experience, consider a visit to the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. Perched atop a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this five-star resort offers breathtaking views and top-notch amenities.

You can book a room here.

Even if you’re not staying overnight, you can still enjoy a meal at one of their exceptional restaurants or relax with a drink by their cozy outdoor fire pits.

Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay luxury hotel at Half Moon Bay, California, December 22, 2017.

Family Fun at Lemos Farm

If you’re traveling with kids or simply looking for a fun-filled afternoon, head to Lemos Farm. This family-owned farm offers a variety of activities, including pony rides, a petting zoo, and seasonal events like pumpkin patches and Christmas tree lots. Be sure to check their website for the latest happenings and plan your visit accordingly.

Lemos Farm’s barn

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Moonside Bakery

For a scrumptious treat, make your way to Moonside Bakery, a local favorite for freshly baked goods. With an impressive selection of pastries, cakes, and bread, you’ll have a hard time choosing just one. Their buttery, flaky croissants and decadent chocolate eclairs are particularly popular, so be sure to arrive early before they sell out!

Cakes at Moonside Bakery

Coastside Trail Adventure

Next, head to the scenic Coastside Trail, which stretches from Pillar Point Harbor to Poplar Beach. This paved path offers stunning ocean views, perfect for a leisurely walk or bike ride. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including seals, sea birds, and even whales during migration season.

Pillar Point Harbor Exploration

Venture over to Pillar Point Harbor, a working fishing harbor brimming with activity. Here, you can watch fishing boats coming in with their daily catch, or even buy fresh seafood straight from the fishermen. For a more hands-on experience, consider booking a fishing charter or whale watching tour.

Boats at Pillar Point

Tide Pooling at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

For a fascinating glimpse into the marine world, visit Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. At low tide, the rocky shoreline reveals a treasure trove of tide pools teeming with colorful sea creatures like sea stars, anemones, and crabs. Remember to tread lightly and avoid disturbing these delicate ecosystems.

A Taste of Half Moon Bay

No visit to Half Moon Bay would be complete without indulging in the local cuisine. For a hearty meal, lots of people love Dad’s Luncheonette, a quirky eatery housed in a historic train caboose.

Their signature dish, the Hamburger Sandwich, is an absolute must-try. For a sweet treat, swing by the family-owned Sweet55, where you can sample exquisite Swiss chocolates crafted by a master chocolatier.

Here are some other restaurants I love:

Sam’s Chowder House

For a true taste of coastal cuisine, pay a visit to Sam’s Chowder House. This popular seaside eatery is known for its award-winning clam chowder and delicious seafood dishes. Enjoy stunning ocean views from their outdoor patio while savoring their famous Lobster Roll or the fresh catch of the day.

Cameron’s Pub

Cameron’s Pub

If you’re craving British fare, look no further than Cameron’s Pub. This lively pub offers a taste of the UK right in Half Moon Bay, complete with traditional dishes like fish and chips and bangers and mash. With its eclectic décor and a red double-decker bus out front, Cameron’s Pub provides a fun and unique dining experience.

Mezza Luna

For a memorable Italian meal, make a reservation at Mezza Luna. Located in the historic Princeton Landing building, this elegant restaurant offers an extensive menu of Italian classics, including pasta, seafood, and wood-fired pizzas. Pair your meal with a glass of wine from their carefully curated list for the perfect dining experience.


As your weekend in Half Moon Bay comes to a close, you’ll surely be captivated by its coastal charm and natural beauty. With its laid-back atmosphere, unique attractions, and delicious food, this hidden gem is a destination you’ll want to return to time and time again.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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