Just about 40 minutes south of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is a delightful spot for a weekend getaway. It’s on a beautiful stretch of coastline with wide beaches, rugged cliffs, and forests of windswept cypress. And Half Moon Bay hotels are some of the most romantic on the California central coast.
In town, you’ll find lots of cute galleries, shops, and restaurants in quaint old Victorian houses. Fresh produce is usually sold in stands just outside town, and there’s a flower market on the third Saturday of the month. The area is especially appealing in the early fall, when there are pumpkins everywhere.
The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in neighboring Moss Beach is a wonderful place for beach combing. You’ll see starfish, urchins, and anemones in the tide pools. And after combing the beach you can hike one of the trails through the cypress forest. You’ll probably see — and hear — harbor seals too.
Half Moon Bay State Beach is a actually three beaches in one. And the Coastside Trail that runs through here is good for beach walks or bike rides. In spring, there are acres of wildflowers.
Art lovers should take Highway 92 to Spanishtown where there are more antique shops and art galleries.
Between December and April, whale watching cruises leave from Pillar Point Harbor. And you can also go sport fishing or sea kayaking. There are a couple of good golf courses here, and you can also go for a horseback ride on the beach.
Gardeners should visit Filoli, which is run by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The 654-acre estate includes a Georgian-style mansion built in 1915 and 16 acres of French and Italian-style formal gardens. The house was used as the Carrington home in the TV show Dynasty.
Half Moon Bay hotels.
Half Moon Bay has more than its fair share of inviting places to stay. From charming country inns to ocean-front resorts, there’s something for everyone, in every price range.
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay changed the lay of the land when it opened in 2001. Prior to that, there were several excellent inns in the area, but nothing on the same scale as this five-star resort with 261 rooms. The hotel looks like a baronial manor house, and the setting, overlooking a broad stretch of pristine coastline, is superb. Guests here want for nothing, and pay for the privilege — valet parking is $45 a day. The best rooms have terraces with outdoor fire pits, and all have LCD TVs, high-speed Internet access, and multi-line phones. There’s golf, tennis, a 16,000-square-foot spa with 16 treatment rooms, and an award-winning restaurant.
Overlooking Pillar Point Harbor, Oceano Hotel and Spa has 95 nicely decorated suites with separate sitting areas, 42” flat-screen TVs, private balconies, fireplaces, and wet bars. Villas have kitchens, dining rooms, and two bedrooms. The spa offers a variety of massages, baths, and treatments. There’s a bar and restaurant on site, and boutiques and cafes at the adjoining Harbor Village.
Designed to recall the clapboard inns of Nantucket, the Beach House Hotel has 54 loft suites with fireplaces, patios or balconies, CD players, refrigerators, and microwaves. Most have views of the ocean or Pillar Point Harbor. There’s a heated pool and spa, a fitness center, and a six-mile coastal path is nearby. Breakfast and weekend wine and cheese receptions are included in the rate.
Half Moon Bay Inns.
Seal Cove Inn is one of our favorite inns in the area. Built by travel guidebook author Karen Brown, it is now part of the Four Sisters Inn group. Set on a bluff of cypress trees and wildflowers, it’s a short stroll from Moss Beach. The ten guestrooms have fireplaces and DVD players, and some have Juliet balconies and whirlpool tubs. A wonderful breakfast buffet and afternoon tea and hors d’oeuvres are included in the rate. Pets are welcome.
The Old Thyme Inn has seven rooms in an 1898 Victorian House on Half Moon Bay’s Main Street. Each is individually decorated and includes amenities like four-poster beds, antique furniture, stained glass windows, and whirlpool tubs. The inn’s English flower and herb gardens are lovely, and you can walk to shops and restaurants. The Old Thyme Inn is a nice spot for a romantic weekend away.
With its pretty cottage-style gardens and European antiques, Mill Rose Inn is one of the most popular bed and breakfasts in Half Moon Bay. It has six rooms with claw-foot tubs, brass beds, chintz floral fabrics, and refrigerators. The Jacuzzi in the garden gazebo is a pleasant way to unwind after a day of hiking. Breakfast here is a highlight and you can take it in the cozy dining room or have it delivered to your room.
If frilly is not your style, the Inn at Mavericks, which opened last fall, has six modern rooms with private ocean-view verandahs. Located a few minutes from Half Moon Bay in Princeton-by-the-Sea, it’s the only water-front inn in the area. Each of the rooms is 500 square feet and has a separate sitting area with a chaise lounge and overstuffed chair, a fireplace, king-size Temperpedic bed, microwave, and refrigerator. The views here are the best you’ll find, and the three pet-friendly rooms have a small, fenced-in patio.
Find more California hotel recommendation here. Or read our detailed California Central Coast itinerary here.
1) The Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay
2) Oceano Hotel & Spa
3) The Beach House Hotel
4) Seal Cove Inn
5) Old Thyme Inn
6) Mill Rose Inn
7) Inn at Mavericks