Half Moon Bay is always a choice spot for a day or overnight trip in the Bay Area. Go on a weekday and avoid the traffic that bedevils it on Saturdays and Sundays.
Upon entering the city limits, stop at one of the shops along state Highway 92. Check out the garden-related businesses thriving in the greenhouses at Pastorino Farms. Pick up some lavender incense or native plants at places like Half Moon Bay Lavender or Yerba Buena Nursery.
A good place for a stroll is on Main Street, the center of Half Moon Bay’s compact downtown. Lots of stores, restaurants and hotels are here. Check out the murals. The downtown comes alive on the first Thursday of each month, with a Make It Main Street event from 3 to 7 p.m. that brings together artists, musicians and other performers. The next one is scheduled for Sept. 7.
Visit some of Half Moon Bay’s many beaches, and maybe encounter some hearty surfers.
On a windy weekday, in 60-degree weather, with signs warning about the rip currents, there might not be too many sunbathers. Visitors might be watching the waves from someplace warmer like the Miramar Beach Restaurant, a 105-year-old eatery with a full bar and menu including famous clam chowder that’s just a few miles north of town on Mirada Road.
On Sunday afternoons, the nearby Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society presents jazz concerts.
One of the easiest beaches to drive to is Francis Beach, located off Kelly Avenue. From downtown’s Main Street, turn right at Kelly, cross over state Highway 1, and head toward the water. Half Moon Bay’s state-run beaches have parking lots that charge $10. But an alternative is to park in the free spots on Kelly Avenue close to the water.
Make time to visit the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel at the southern end of the city. It’s possible to get a good workout walking on the paved oceanfront trail (it’s open for public access) that goes around the Ritz and through the manicured golf course.
While parking rates there are expensive, starting at $30 a day, there are two free parking lots, one at 1001 Miramontes Point Road and another in a garage at the Ritz. The biggest problem is that the lots often are full. But again, go on a weekday, especially a foggy one, and there’s likely to be a space.
Finally, another way to experience Half Moon Bay is to go for a bike ride. There’s a coast-side paved trail that follows the path of an old railroad track, parallel to Pacific Coast Highway. Pedestrians and joggers use it as well. The 7.5 mile-trail runs from the harbor in the north to the Ritz. The last stretch near the Ritz is not paved, but is rideable, according to Bart Draper, owner of Straight Wheel Cycling in downtown, which is one of several local businesses that rent bikes.