When we’re craving a change of scenery or a spontaneous family getaway, we often head to Half Moon Bay. This family favorite checks off all the boxes needed for a perfect quick getaway: It’s less than an hour’s drive away, it’s situated right on the coast, it has great food, and Half Moon By boasts plenty to do and see. The best part? This charming coastal town can easily accommodate a tight budget or be experienced as a luxury retreat. Read to to learn why Half Moon Bay is the ultimate “Splurge” or “Save” destination.
When it comes to “splurging” in Half Moon Bay, theRitz Carlton, Half Moon Bay reigns supreme. This stately hotel is perched atop an oceanside bluff on nearly 70,000 acres, surrounded by bucolic golfing greens and miles of picturesque coastline. Offering stunning views of crashing ocean waves and world-class cuisine, Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay makes for a memorable retreat. The outdoor patio is an idyllic spot to roast s’mores over communal fire pits and enjoy stunning sunsets while a bagpiper serenades guests nightly with live Celtic melodies. It all adds up to be an exquisite experience well worth the price.
For family friendly fine dining without even getting in the car, The Conservatory has you covered for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This white-linen restaurant, (located at the Ritz,) boasts ocean views, a kids’ menu, and service that will make the family feel downright royal. Don’t miss the restaurant’s signature Cioppino, one of the best we’ve ever tried.
Another wonderful dinner option is It’s Italia, located in downtown Half Moon Bay. This cozy, Tuscan-style restaurant serves classic Italian cuisine with large portions and decadent house-made desserts. If possible, request to sit in the gorgeous outdoor courtyard, where string lights and outdoor fireplaces create a romantic, dimly lit vibe you’ll appreciate even with children-in-tow.
Downtown Half Moon Bay is chock-full of charming shops and eateries, where kids and adults alike will find plenty of fun souvenirs to take homes. Be sure to stop by Fog Town Toys, offering a charming selection of unique children’s toys, and Half Moon Bay Feed & Fuel —an old-timey feed and supply store with live bunnies and chicks that children will adore. Adults will appreciate the wide range of clothing and home decor boutiques dotted along Main Street.
For an unforgettable “splurge-worthy” family experience, charter a sport fishing boat from Queen of Hearts Sportfishing. This licensed 50-ft vessel offers an incredible fishing and crabbing expedition unlike no other. With help from experienced crew, catch your own Dungeness crab, Salmon, or Rockfish, or book an incredible whale-watching expedition January through March. (Ages 7 and up.)
Seahorse Ranch is a must for the horse-loving kids in the family. Here, one or two-hour trail rides take riders on a scenic coastal adventure, (available to riders ages 7 and up, with online reservations required.)
Half Moon Bay Lodge offers comfortable family accommodations at an unbelievable price, with some rooms priced under $200 a night. Although not right on the beach, this hotel is very near it, located right off highway 1, just behind the Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay. For a little privacy and more space, book the “Tower Suite,” which has an upstairs loft-type bedroom and queen bed downstairs in the main living area. The hotel also boasts a pool and hot tub, which is always a bonus when traveling with kids.
For casual roadside eats, Dad’s Luncheonette has garnered quite a following, and for good reason. Located in an historic train caboose, this wallet-friendly eatery offers mouthwatering “Hamburger Sandwiches” that are well worth the inevitable wait in line.
The San Benito Deli also earns rave reviews for its delicious sandwiches on homemade bread, and slices of thick-crust pizzas. It also offers scratch soups and fresh salads, as well as a smattering of bakery goodies. The perfect fare to bring to the beach!
Get an early start to see the tide pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. Hermit crabs and starfish are the stars of the show at low tide. After the water rises and the sea creatures take their bow, walk over to the trails for a kid-friendly coastal hike through the century-old forrest of tangled and windblown Cyprus trees.
It’s not a trip to Half Moon Bay without some time at the beach, and luckily, there are miles of beaches to choose from. Poplar Beach is a family friendly one that’s usually not too crowded, and Surfer’s Beach is a popular spot that’s kid-friendly and centrally located.
Biking is a fantastic kid-friendly pastime in Half Moon Bay, thanks to its wide, paved, miles-long Coastal Trail running along the beach, which is completely separate from the road and oncoming vehicles. Rent bikes from Half Moon Bay Kayaking, which, unsurprisingly, also rents single or double kayaks for exploring Half Moon Bay on water.
On the way home, take a quick stop by Carnivorous Plants to show your kids some of the most unique and memorable plants they’ve likely never seen before. Venus Fly Traps, Tropical Pitcher Plants and other predatory plants will delight and wonder them, with no entrance fee to get in.