Day Visit to Half Moon Bay, and a bit North

Half Moon Bay, and the areas around it, make for a great daylong, or even just an afternoon, Bay Area excursion. There are tons of things to do, restaurants to eat at, shops to visit, beaches to walk on, and more.  Below is an itinerary that breaks out what a good day of exploration might look like, but know there are plenty of other options you might stumble upon once you arrive! If you are going on a weekend in October be sure to account for ‘pumpkin’ traffic as many will be visiting the many farms to self-pick pumpkins. 

Morning:

Driving over Highway 92, as you are about to enter Half Moon Bay you can pull over to the left when you pass the greenhouses to stop by Half Moon Bay Lavender (home & garden items and of course lavender items), Highway 92 Succulents, or the Orchid store if you are in the market for any of those. 

Continue to downtown HMB. Depending on your arrival time, you may want to include breakfast or lunch while downtown, followed by some shopping, all very centrally located and walkable.

Half Moon Bay

Restaurants:

  • Cafe Society. Good quiche or try the waffles. For breakfast or lunch
  • Garden Deli and Cafe. Grab a sandwich at the counter and eat outside or take it to the beach later for a picnic
  • Johnnys. For sandwiches and salads
  • Giya. For Mediterranean options, and the nicest staff ever.
  • It’s Italia. More for dinner, but also open for lunch.
  • Sacrilege Brewery and Kitchen. Further down the other end of the main drag, it has wings, burgers, tacos, soups, salads and more.
  • Dad’s Luncheonette: Located on Highway 1 in an old train caboose, this casual, popular spot (even written up on the NY Times) has a limited menu and is known for their mushroom burger, amongst other things. Order in the caboose and eat outside at the picnic tables. Just nearby in the little strip mall check you can follow up lunch with amazing Swiss chocolates and confections from Sweet55.

Shopping: All those below are on one block on either side of the street. There is a lot more on other blocks as well but these are my favorites.

  • Crow’s Nest. Great for women’s clothing, nice HMB branded shirts and sweatshirts, candles, jewlery.  
  • Hometown Mercantile. Lovely selection of home goods, decor, jewelry, scents and more. Be sure to drop in. 
  • Jupiter and Main. Apothecary. Home Goods, Menswear, Gifts. Really interesting upscale store with lots of gifts and items for men. They have an annex store across the street at well called Juno which is a bit more female-focused. Great, interesting selection of high-end items and clothing.
  • Abode. ‘Natural Home Beauty’. A variety of upscale, unique, and interesting home decor, high-end candles and diffusers, artwork, and more. 

Beach Walk:

Next, to head out for a beach walk next, continue south on 101 just a bit and take a right (towards the ocean) on Poplar Ave. Drive until the end where there’s a parking lot (paid) and then head down to the dog-friendly beach where you can walk for a long way in either direction. If of interest there are also horseback riding areas where you can rent a horse to ride along the beach as well.

El Granada:

Time to head North on 101. If you haven’t eaten yet, or want to grab some snacks, head to the Spangler Market next which is in El Granada, on the East of 101 across the street from the surfing beach in Princeton-by-the-Sea. Super cute market that sells sandwiches, has a full butcher and everything else you need. Take your sandwich across the street and watch the surfers while you eat!

La Costa

Princeton-by-the-Sea:

This is a great spot to stop for lunch, or if it’s later in the day to have a beer or cocktail. It’s also where the famous big wave spot Maverick’s is (but you can’t see the wave easily from shore FYI). If you want to do a beach walk here you can park at the end of West Point Ave and head out on the beach down towards Mavericks (take a right at the beach). You can also rent kayaks in Princeton if that’s of interest.

Here are some restaurant options to visit:

Sams: Sam’s actually is on 101 before you get to Princeton By-The-Sea. It’s a super popular lunch/dinner spot. Go during the day so you can sit outside.

Barbara’s Fishtrap: Another popular spot for seafood options. 

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company: Across the street from Barbara’s Fishtrap

Jettywave Distillery and Bonfire Lounge: End your day here! Be sure to check their hours (open Fri, Sat, and Sun afternoon/evenings), this is the perfect place to end your day with a craft cocktail or local beer and some delicious food while sitting by a firepit. 

La Costanera: If you’d like a Peruvian dinner to end your day, this is your spot.

Another Lunch Alternative: Lunch at the Airport:

If you are looking for a unique breakfast/lunch spot, grab a table at the Pilot Light Cafe which is just north of Princeton-by-the-Sea on the West side of 101, and is open 9am-2pm. The cafe (the cafe is the only building in the ‘airport’) has salads, sandwiches and more. 

Tide Pools:

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve: Visit the tidepools, or just wander, through this marine reserve.

Moss Beach:

Moss Beach has a couple of options for you to dine at or have a glass of wine.

Moss Beach Distillery: If you want to have lunch or dinner with a view of the ocean, or enjoy weekday happy hour from 5-7, this is the spot. On a cliff overlooking the ocean you can sit inside or out and every table has an ocean view.

The Coastal Vine Bar: Also in Moss Beach, but on the other side of the highway. Stop in for an afternoon or evening glass of wine, and live music on special evenings (check website). 

Hotel:

If you want to stay the night, check out the Beachhouse Hotel which is right on the water next to the harbor in Princeton By-the-Sea. I’ve visited a friend who had a ground-floor oceanfront room and it was the most amazing oceanfront view ever – the water was just outside the door it felt like! Lots of other local options for lodging as well.

PS. If you want to drive south from Half Moon Bay I also have a blog that covers Hidden Gems from Half Moon Bay to Watsonville.

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Chrissie Kremer
Chrissie Kremer

I am a mixed bag traveler - I go the budget route on some things and splurge on others. I love family adventure travel, trips with girlfriends, or solo trips with my kids. I like urban exploration but prefer it coupled with outdoor activity (and when traveling with my kids it's more outdoor activity coupled with a dose of urban). I have been to 62 countries... and counting.

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Chrissie Kremer
Chrissie Kremer

I am a mixed bag traveler - I go the budget route on some things and splurge on others. I love family adventure travel, trips with girlfriends, or solo trips with my kids. I like urban exploration but prefer it coupled with outdoor activity (and when traveling with my kids it's more outdoor activity coupled with a dose of urban). I have been to 62 countries... and counting.

JOIN THE COMMUNITY!

and receive the “Carry On Only Packing Guide”, free. 

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