Half Moon Bay is one of California’s charming coastal towns, filled with great boutiques, delicious food, and beautiful beaches. Check out our favorite recommendations for things to do in Half Moon Bay.
We recently spent our eleventh anniversary in Half Moon Bay, California, and it was a charming trip!
Before we left, I did lots of blog research about where to go and things to do in Half Moon Bay, and if I’m being honest, I feel like some of the best parts of the town often get glossed over. So I’m here to share a first hand look at the best things to do in this little beach town!
Psst — before you dive in, be sure to pin some of our other California travel posts below! We’ve got deep dives on plenty of California’s gems.
- What Do To in Santa Barbara with Kids
- What to Do in Carmel-By-The-Sea
- San Diego with Kids
- Things to Do in Morro Bay with Kids
- Our Favorite Places to Visit in California
What’s the Vibe in Half Moon Bay?
I’ll be honest. The vibe in Half Moon Bay is a little tough to understand.
On one hand, you have funky trailer parks and run-down dives, and on the other you have the Ritz Carlton and upscale boutiques. All of these things coexist and mingle together.
But at the heart of the town is a general feeling of creativity and uniqueness, sprinkled with some very welcoming and kind locals, on a beautiful stretch of California’s coast.
Things To Do In Half Moon Bay
If you love beach towns, you’ll fit right in here! There’s no shortage of beachy things to do in Half Moon Bay. But we found plenty more too!
Beaches. Obviously, bring your beach gear and get some time in on the oceanfront! Many of the beaches back up to cliffs and plenty also have some substantial waves, so be sure you pick a safe place to set up your beach gear.
Tide Pools. Plenty of the beaches have rocky areas with great tidepooling once the tide goes out. Check tide schedules ahead of time and bring shoes that are safe for stepping on the slippery rocks.
U-Pick Farms. If you hit Half Moon Bay in the fall, the u-pick farms are amazing! Pick sunflowers or pumpkins to your heart’s content.
The Ritz. Set up on a cliff above the water, the Ritz Carlton is definitely one of the most impressive locations in the area. You can park for free in the parking structure at one of the beach access spots (I recommend going early in the day to snag a spot). Grab some adirondack chairs and watch the golfers, go for a walk on the trail, or grab lunch and a drink at the restaurant.
The Best Half Moon BAy Shopping
Nurseries. Half Moon Bay has the most impressive selection of nurseries and succulent gardens that I’ve seen in recent years! Be sure to stop at Highway 92 Succulents and stop into all of the other greenhouses right next door. It’s an amazing variety of specialty nurseries — carnivorous plants, orchids, lavender, succulents, and more.
Ink Spell Books. We love to stop into book stores while we travel, and Ink Spell Books is a charming hometown store with great vibes.
Main Street. Definitely reserve an hour or two for wandering up and down Main Street. It’s filled with well-curated local boutiques and plenty of fun finds. Our favorite was Jupiter & Main.
Where To Eat in Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay Farmer’s Market. If you’re lucky enough to be in town for the farmer’s market, you definitely should go! Be aware, it opens at 9am and you’ll have to wait in line if you arrive early. Grab something from the pastry tent — the fresh croissant and blueberry tarte were incredible. They also have quiches, pizzas, and lunch tartes you could take for later.
The Barn. The Barn is a fun roadside eatery with elevated food in a relaxed outdoor setting. Order in the barn and then grab a covered picnic table while you wait. They have blankets if you get chilly and fresh flowers on the tables. I’d recommend the fried mac and cheese, any of their soups, the chicken sandwich, and be sure to get some fries.
Pasta Moon. I don’t love sitting down to a fussy dinner with a white tablecloth. So fair warning, that’s the vibe here. But! We grabbed a seat at the bar (which I love doing) and enjoyed the incredible Italian food and even better cocktails. Definitely try this place! The eggplant parm is 10/10.
Cantina. The Cantina at San Benito House used to be a dive bar but they’ve expanded it to a fantastic Mexican restaurant with beautiful outdoor seating and a huge grassy garden area for kids to run around. Get the chips and guac, and choose your favorite tacos.
More Half Moon Bay REcommendations
If you’re in town for more than a day and have some extra time, my final recommendation is just to hop in your car and drive Highway 1 on the coast! The views are incredible and you’ll have the chance to pull off at some roadside gems.
If you drive north you’ll have an easy trip to San Francisco, and if you head south you’ll go toward Santa Cruz.
Whatever you choose to do, I hope you experience this California beach town soon! xoxo