Getaway Guide: One-Tank Trip to Half Moon Bay

July 21, 2012 6:00 AM

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For an escape from the crowds and traffic in San Fran, or the heat of the Peninsula and East Bay, the small seaside community of Half Moon Bay is a perfect choice for a day trip. Located less than an hour’s drive from San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is often overlooked as a popular destination. Expect interesting shops, galleries, restaurants, outdoor activities and even world-class accommodations in this perfect destination just a tank away.

Getting There

There are two primary routes to Half Moon Bay from the Bay Area, via Highway 1 South or Highway 280 South to Highway 92 West from San Francisco. Visitors traveling from the Peninsula may take Highway 101 to Highway 92 West, and those traveling from the East Bay can take 92 West from Highway 880.

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Half Moon Bay State Beach
Half Moon Bay, CA

Price: free/$10 vehicle fee

This adorable little city, incorporated in 1959, offers some of the most beautiful beach on the Pacific coast. Explore forest trails for an adventure any day — joining horseback riders in loving this gorgeous woodland — but don’t miss out on sunset on the stunning California shoreline. Enjoy four miles of sandy beaches perfect for sunbathing, swimming, picnicking, swimming and camping nearby. Although it’s common to see horses, dogs are not allowed on these beaches. Be cognizant of laws that prohibit campfires here as well. Both dogs and campfires are allowed in certain campsites here, so make a reservation to make a weekend out of this one-tank trip.


Half Moon Bay Brewery

390 Capistrano Road
Half Moon Bay. CA  94019
(650) 728-2739

This popular restaurant was one of only two California restaurants featured in a 2011 article on America’s Best Beach Bars by Travel and Leisure. Located near Pillar Point Harbor, this moderately priced restaurant offers great views of the harbor and the bay. The microbrewery features a great selection of beers on tap in addition to delicious soups, sandwiches, salads and entrees for lunch and dinner.

crab landing Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip to Half Moon Bay

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Crab Landing
260 Capistrano Road
Half Moon Bay, CA  94019
(650) 712-1288

For a slightly more upscale experience in dining, Crab Landing is a great choice for steak and seafood. This restaurant in the Harbor Village complex in Princeton-by-the-Sea, was voted No. 2 for best seafood in 2010 in a Best of the Bay contest. Crab Landing also offers a great selection of soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees and deserts, in addition to choice cuts of steak and seafood pastas for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

mezza luna Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip to Half Moon Bay

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Mezza Luna
459 Prospect Way
Half Moon Bay, CA  94019
(650) 728-8108

This fine Italian restaurant is also located at Harbor Village. In addition to the lunch and dinner menu that features extravagant dishes of salads, seafood, pastas and pizza, Mezza Luna has an impressive list of beers and fine wines. Expect a low-key, classy experience without crazy prices.

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Navio Restaurant
1 Miramontes Point Road
Half Moon Bay, CA  94019
(650) 712-7040

The Navio Restaurant is located in the luxurious five star resort, the Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay. With sweeping views of the bay, Navio offers the best in fine dining with a wine list commensurate of a world-class facility. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with reservations strongly recommended for evening dining.

Related: Half Moon Bay Art Glass


half moon bay wine cheese company Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip to Half Moon Bay

Photo Credit: Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company

Toque Blanche 
604 Main Street
Half Moon Bay, CA  94109
(650) 726-2898

This cute little downtown shop located in the beautiful La Piazza shopping center sells all types of high-quality and kitschy kitchenware, from quality cookware to cutlery. The store also has regularly scheduled cooking demonstrations and classes perfect for a day away from home you won’t want to forget. The La Piazza shopping center is worth visiting not only for Toque Blanche but also for the Half Moon Bay Wine and Cheese, in addition to the beautiful mural in the center.

Cottage Industries
621 Main Street
Half Moon Bay, CA  94019
(650) 712-8078

This downtown business specializes in quality hardwood home and office furniture. Cottage Industries only selects the finest in craftsmanship, which is why loyal customers travel from all over the Bay Area to shop there. Its collection includes bedroom and dining room furniture, entertainment centers, and upholstered sofas and chairs.

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Coastside Books
432A Main Street
Half Moon Bay, CA  94019
(650) 726-5889

This downtown bookstore is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year in downtown Half Moon Bay. Although relatively small, the store sells an impressive collection of new and used books in many broad areas such as fiction, biography, science and children’s. The store also carries a good collection of postcards, unique greeting cards and jewelry created by local artists.

Rouge Boutique
414 Main Street
Half Moon Bay, CA  94019
(650) 726-3626

One of the best and most interesting stores in downtown Half Moon Bay is the Rouge Boutique. The store advertises itself as having all of the latest fashions, with a “touch of vintage,” and sells both men’s and women’s clothing. Visitors may purchase elegant evening gowns, summer dresses, stylish blouses, fine leather sandals, and shoes and fashion accessories.

half to have it Getaway Guide: One Tank Trip to Half Moon Bay

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Half to Have It
131 California Avenue
Half Moon Bay, CA  94019
(650) 563-9139

This popular antique store and gallery was originally located in downtown Half Moon but has since moved to Princeton-by-the-Sea, not far past the Shoppes at Harbor Village and the harbor. Visitors approaching the store housed within a century old farmhouse, will discover an array of potted plants, signs, wall decorations,  a few vintage 1950s travel trailers, garden gnomes and an eclectic collection of other interesting artifacts nestled within the garden. The Nest Gallery is located in the former water tower for the harbor and displays the work of local artists.

Related: Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. His work can be found on

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