How to Spend a Long Weekend in Beautiful Half Moon Bay, California – TravelAwaits | Candle Made Easy

The beautiful coastal town of Half Moon Bay is an easy drive about 35 miles south of San Francisco. Consider adding this Northern California seaside village to your must-visit list with stunning coastal views and a beach vibe.

Here’s how to spend a great weekend in Half Moon Bay.

Note: Some information in this article was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.

Half Moon Bay Art Glass with friends

Copyright: SJ Morgensen

Things to do in Half Moon Bay

1. Glass bubbles at Half Moon Bay Art Glass

At Half Moon Bay Art Glass you can explore the ancient craft of glassblowing for yourself. Browse the different projects in the studio and choose your own. Once you’ve picked your colors, it’s time to get to work. You grab some goggles and gloves and owner Doug shows you the way.

As you gently insert your blowpipe into the 2,000 degree Fahrenheit oven, watch as your glass takes shape. Next, twist and turn the wand to your chosen colors and things really come to life. I may not be an artist, but I was that day as I painstakingly crafted my heart paperweight. What fun! Half Moon Bay Art Glass is the perfect place to learn about the fine art of glassblowing. They have taught over 7,000 students over the last 10 years and welcome you to discover your inner Dale Chihuly!

Pro tip: If you’re in town on the first Thursday of the month, visit Make It Main Street and look out for the Glass Blowing At Half Moon Bay portable trailer on Main Street. Watch Ron work his magic and purchase a handmade glass treasure to take home.

Horseback riding at Half Moon Bay

Horseback riding at Half Moon Bay

Photo credit: jfarr / Shutterstock.com

2. Horseback riding at Seahorse Ranch

The dream of horseback riding on the beach becomes a reality at Seahorse Ranch. This family business has thrived in Half Moon Bay for many years and the people here can’t wait to help you make your dreams come true. Reserve a horseback ride of your choice and upon arrival you will be fitted out with your horse and helmet. With the help of experienced walking guides, you’ll soon be appreciating the beauty of the coast as you meander through fields of wild flowers and wild herbs.

Chat with your neighbors on horseback as you meander along the secluded trails to the beach. Next you are taken down a short cliff and as my neighbor the former bull rider advised me to loosen up and sit back! The crashing waves provide a relaxing soundtrack as you walk along the shore and enjoy the beauty of the Pacific. This is truly a one-of-a-kind horseback ride that you won’t find anywhere else.

Shopping on the main street

Shopping on the main street

Copyright: SJ Morgensen

3. Shopping on the main street

Explore the shops of Main Street in Half Moon Bay. Admire the incredible handcrafted furniture at Cottage Industries, peruse interesting finds at Jupiter & Main and its sister shop Juno’s Mercantile, and be sure to visit Feed & Fuel to shop for everything from western clothing to live chickens!

Surfing at Half Moon Bay

Surfing at Half Moon Bay

Copyright: SJ Morgensen

4. Explore the beaches

Home of the legendary Maverick’s, surfing is big here and beaches abound. Stroll along the beach in the morning and watch the kids learn to ride the waves at the surf school. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

devil slide

devil slide

Image copyright: Droneandy / Shutterstock.com

5. Hike the trails

Unsurpassed by the sea, the land around Half Moon Bay offers beautiful scenery and excellent hiking opportunities. Try Devil’s Slide and the Purisima Creek Trail.

The Coastal Path

The Coastal Path

Photo credit: Other Photography / Shutterstock.com

6. Bike along the coast

Enjoy views of the Pacific as you pedal along the Coastal Trail. Pick up your bikes from Half Moon Bay Kayak and set off. If you’d rather explore things from the water, you can rent stand-up paddleboards and single and double kayaks. They even offer guided tours by kayak or paddleboard, so you can get your whole group together for a fun adventure on the water!

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

The author enjoys a drink with a friend at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

Copyright: SJ Morgensen

Restaurants in Half Moon Bay

7. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

Founded in 2000, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company was the first legal brewery on the San Mateo coast since the late 19th century. Today it’s one of the premier destinations on Capistrano Road and the perfect place to grab an al fresco table, a cold locally brewed beer or a cocktail and kick back. With a large, full bar, and indoor and outdoor seating, there’s plenty of room for everyone at this award-winning brewery and restaurant.

For a light but decadent lunch, try the daily special of halibut with fresh mango salsa, served with broccoli, cauliflower and parsnip puree and lobster sauce. The crispy seafood sampler is also a good choice. We dug into this gargantuan array of piping hot fish, including calamari, BrewCo beer-battered cod and shrimp. Served with fries and sides of tartar and cocktail sauce, this was way more food than we could handle.

Soup Supreme: Try the chowder, which has been described as one of the best chowders outside of New England food network.

La Costanera at Half Moon Bay

Chocolate Lava Cake at La Costanera in Half Moon Bay

Copyright: SJ Morgensen

8. Costanera

Perfect service, creative cocktails and exceptional food. What else do you need? Not sure what to order from the Peruvian menu? The people of La Costanera are professionals when it comes to making delicious suggestions.

Discover the national drink, the pisco sour, and awaken your taste buds as you sip this ultra-smooth cocktail. Expertly crafted behind the bar and featuring a hummingbird design in the frothy top, this drink is my new favorite. Al, the ambassador for La Costanera, told us that the hummingbird design that adorns the top of the drink is a nod to ancient Peruvian Nazca lines. Our very entertaining evening got off to a fascinating start!

Drinks in hand, be sure to try the homemade chips and salsa. These aren’t your typical Mexican restaurant fare, but homemade, crunchy Peruvian-style potato chips and salsa with the cilantro that I love. Delicious!

Whether you choose a seat on the large deck near the outdoor fire pits, a comfortable seat in the cozy first floor bar, or upstairs in the expansive dining area, you will be greeted by friendly, knowledgeable staff just waiting , to help you.

For a taste of heaven, try the pescado a lo macho main course, which features a seasonal fish fillet fried over a seafood stew. Mine featured clams, clams, shrimp, squid, and swordfish, all served in a flavorful rocoto pepper sauce, served with a side of coconut rice. It was just magical and one of the best main courses I have ever eaten. My dining partner devoured her main course, the Salmon Bandido. Consisting of plancha-roasted wild-caught salmon with roasted kabocha squash puree and chicha reduction, it’s sure to be a delicious dish. La Costanera serves creative, tasty dishes with flair. I bet this restaurant will earn a place among your best dining experiences as it has mine.

Bartender Choice: Pisco Sour Flight, a tasting of 3 Piscos: Traditional, Passion Fruit and Cucumber.

Delicious dessert: Order the mind blowingly delicious chocolate lava cake.

Sam's Chowder House

Sam’s Chowder House

Copyright: SJ Morgensen

9. Sam’s Chowder House

Here at the award-winning Sam’s Chowder House, some of the best seafood in town is served. The hotel is right on the beach overlooking the bay, the view is amazing and the food is even better.

Start with something from Sam’s Fresh Oyster Bar, where you’ll find oysters, of course, as well as seafood cocktails and ceviche. Indulge in award-winning lobster rolls, served nude or clothed. An order of cold-smoked salmon served with pickled cucumber, herbed cream cheese, and toast tips proves that simple doesn’t mean boring. Voted by San Francisco Magazine One of the top three al fresco restaurants in the Bay Area, Sam’s Chowder House makes you feel the love.

Inventive appetizer: Try this winning combination of a mixed bag of grilled cherry tomatoes, giant shrimp, topped with a pesto sauce and served hot in a cast-iron grill.

10. Garden Deli Cafe in San Benito

The Garden Deli Cafe in San Benito is nestled among the quaint shops on Main Street and usually has a line out the door. We found the line moved fast enough and it was worth the short wait.

My vegetarian avocado and cheese sandwich topped with fresh lettuce, onions, cucumber and tomatoes, served on my choice of homemade wheat hits the spot. The ham and bean soup of the day was also delicious. The casual grab-and-go spot is consistently ranked as one of the best sandwich spots on the coast.

Pro tip: Get your takeaway and grab a table in the adjacent courtyard. Acoustic musicians playing while we chewed our lunch made for a relaxing midday hour.

Beach house hotel in Half Moon Bay

Beach House Hotel

Copyright: SJ Morgensen

Hotels in Half Moon Bay

11. The Beach House

Comfortable, spacious and a perfect beachfront location are all reasons why you will love your stay at Beach House Hotel.

With 500 square feet and all-suite accommodations, you’ll have everything you need and then some at the Beach House. The in-room mini-fridge and microwave make it easy to grab a snack, and the Beach House offers the option to order cocktails for your own private happy hour. We loved the daily continental breakfast included with our stay, the in-room fireplace, the wonderfully relaxing hot tub, and of course, the breathtaking view of the bay from the private balcony. You’ll also love the walkability to Sam’s Chowder House right next door, as well as the coastal path that runs just behind the property for easy access to Pillar Point Harbor.

12. Oceano Hotel and Spa

Just steps from Pillar Point Harbor, enjoy your stay in a luxurious suite or villa at the Oceano Hotel and Spa. Relax with a cocktail at the on-site Oceano Bar & Grill or enjoy a full meal prepared by the chef. Then stroll to the adjacent shoppes in Harbor Village to shop.

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