Eight Things to Do in Half Moon Bay
Updated: May 3
hile many come to Half Moon Bay to visit its pristine and often uncrowded beaches or hiking trails, those looking for a more cultural experience will not be disappointed. From the locals perspective, even with San Francisco less than an hour away, there are so many options that keep people who live here happy to stay in town. These same experiences give visitors eight (and many more) great reasons to visit the coast.
1. Enjoy a Cocktail (or a Mocktail) at Jetty Wave: Located in Princeton Harbor, this largely outdoor space offers deliciously crafted cocktails made with their own spirits and flavored with local botanicals and coastal flair. The casual venue features cozy fire pits, a corn hole set, friendly staff, and your dog will be welcomed with open arms. Enjoy Mediterranean-inspired small plates from Chef Jose Luis that rival the best SF and Peninsula eateries from a gourmet food truck called Gibraltar Gems. On summer weekends, there’s often live music in the afternoons. Check out Jetty Wave online to see hours and events.
2. See a Show at Coastal Repertory Theatre: This non-profit
coastside theater showcases a wide range of performances, with genres from Monty Python’s laugh-out-loud funny Spamalot to the intense drama of The Crucible. The quality of acting and set design is always impressive, and every performance is a celebration of live theater, combined with the spirit of community. Enjoy a specialty themed cocktail created by the CRT’s Little Old Ladies (LOLs), longtime theater patrons who donate the proceeds toward ongoing theater improvements. If you have children, it’s worth a trip to bring them to the Coastal Rep Kid’s Theater musicals which are performed by the K-8th grade and high school theater programs. For more information on current and upcoming performances (or to audition for a show), visit CRT’s website.
3. A Haven for Foodies: Half Moon Bay is home to many eateries that can tempt any taste bud. You really can’t go wrong with any place you choose on the coast, but to highlight just a few…
It’s Italia is a coastside gem with delicious appetizers, main courses, pizza and cocktails. Join the friendly bar keepers at the bar or grab a seat on the serene back patio by the fireplace.
Located on scenic Main Street, Ciya is a recent addition and a perfect place to stop for a tasty falafel, creamy hummus, or other delectable Mediterranean cuisine. Owner Hassan will welcome you with a hearty handshake and will likely remember your name the next time you visit.
Pasta Moon: This restaurant and lounge is located further south on Main Street (just a stone’s throw from Coastal Rep), features a commitment to local farmers and is open for lunch and dinner. The farm to table menus are delicious and you can sit inside the beautifully-restored restaurant or outside on a well-heated patio.
4. Come for Wine Tasting: Half Moon Bay offers so many options for wine tasting - all within just a few blocks.
Stop in at La Nebbia along Highway 92 and enjoy their large outdoor space with fire pits, bocce ball courts and a beautiful view of the coastal hills, while nibbling on charcuterie and sampling their different varietals.
Another popular stop is Barterra, whose owners curate wines from all the major wine growing regions of California, showcasing them in tasting flights and bottles for purchase. They often host live music performances - check their website for a calendar.
A visit to Half Moon Bay Wine and Cheese will not disappoint. You can sit inside or out, and enjoy wines by the flight or the glass. The gourmet deli makes a perfect stopping point to fill your picnic basket with cheese, crackers and chocolate before a visit to the beach.
5. Enjoy a Craft Beer: If you prefer a hoppy brew to a glass of vino, head to Princeton Harbor for a pint at Hop Dogma, a locally-owned microbrewery with an amusing array of options. Blue Ocean Brewing is another dog-friendly brew pub in the harbor. Both venues usually have food trucks nearby if you’re feeling peckish. If you’re wanting to stay close to Main Street, Sacrilege Brewery is a great choice with a variety of beers on tap along with delicious burgers, tacos and more. Try the warm pretzel bites - they might change your life.
6. Shop: Half Moon Bay’s Main Street retains its historic charm with a variety of locally-owned boutiques that offer a welcome break from the brand name stores so common in other Bay Area towns. Luxuriate in modern, high-quality clothing at Crow’s Nest and Baciami, and explore elegant home decor at Abode. Books and other unique gifts abound at Ink Spell, Jupiter and Main, and the Paper Crane. Browse beads, jewelry, and healing crystals at Tokenz. If you’re in the market for fine jewelry, look no further than Goldworks for spectacular options. Downtown Half Moon Bay has a little something for everyone!
7. Take a Hike: There are so many beautiful trails in and around Half Moon Bay. You can stroll (or bike) South from Pillar Point Harbor on the paved Coastal Trail with spectacular ocean views. If you’re looking for a moderate hike with some elevation gain, visit the Purisima Creek-Harkins Ridge trails. This 7.6 mile loop is in the heart of a lush redwood forest that feels like something out of a m
ovie. You’ll hear the babbling creek and likely spot a bright yellow banana slug or an orange-red California Newt. If you’re really looking for a challenge, head for Montara Mountain’s North peak - a 7 mile trek from the Grey Whale Cove parking lot. With 1800 feet of elevation gain, if you’re not winded from the hike, the views on a clear day will take your breath away.
8. Stay the Night: If you are visiting and want to avoid weekend traffic, give yourself more time to enjoy the magic of the coast, plan an overnight stay. There are so many hotel and motel options at a price point for every budget - from the dazzling oceanview Ritz Carlton to the harbor view Beach House Inn to the quaint Half Moon Bay Inn right downtown on Main Street.
Half Moon Bay offers a wide array of cuisine and cultural experiences that delight locals and visitors alike. Isn’t it time to explore something new?