Half Moon Bay is a tiny Northern Californian city on the Pacific Coast just 28 miles from San Francisco and 45 miles from Santa Cruz. Though the city’s total area is only 6.4 square miles, its namesake—Half Moon Bay—boasts some of the state’s most gorgeous coastal views, and with a comfortable climate throughout the year, there’s never a bad time to visit. An abundance of state parks, marine reserves, and beautiful beaches elevate Half Moon Bay from blip on the map to premier family vacation destination.
Experience the Ultimate Coastal Extravagance
A stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay is the ultimate coastal extravagance. Visiting families will enjoy roasting s’mores by oceanfront fire pits near a weekend hot chocolate bar with gourmet toppings, including vanilla or cinnamon whipped cream, homemade marshmallows, toasted coconut flakes, and peppermint shavings. My personal favorite—on Thursday through Sunday evenings—a dedicated Fire & Wine Butler roves the property in search of empty wine glasses to fill, offering assistance with lighting outdoor fire pits. No need to pinch yourself, you’re not dreaming. Welcome to Half Moon Bay.
Read my full review of the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay Inn is centrally located on Main Street, the city’s charming and historic downtown district. For all the convenience of home, the Inn’s Bella Vista Villa can’t be beat. This beautifully furnished second-floor apartment comes with its own private entrance and grand staircase. At the top of the stairs, a locally-painted fresco welcomes you inside. The Villa features a fully-appointed kitchen, a dining room with large windows, two beautiful bedrooms, and a private balcony overlooking a Tuscan inspired courtyard with fireplaces and a fountain. You’ll feel so much at home, you won’t want to leave.
Half Moon Bay with Kids
Lemos Farms is packed with fantastic activities for young children to enjoy. When the bounce house is rockin’, don’t come a knockin’! From train rides and pony rides to petting zoos and playgrounds, the magic of childhood is alive and kicking at Lemos Farms! Across the street, along Highway 92, Spanish Town will capture your imagination with its huge display of metal dinosaurs. Admission and parking are free! Don’t forget your camera, the photo ops are endless!
Harley Farms is a restored 1910 dairy farm with 200 alpine goats on nine acres of pasture in Pescadero, California. Year-round farm tours and cheese making classes allow visitors to experience a working farm and meet lovable goats. Harley Farms lush green meadows, colorful spring flowers, and open sky vistas are unforgettable. My toddler loved running around in the outdoor garden at the base of the Farm Shop. He also enjoyed the shop’s fabulous bread and cheese samples!
There are two reasons for visiting the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve: (1) there are plenty of rocks to throw into a large body of water, and (2) the rocky-shored, marine-protected area unveils the miracle of life at low tide, where it’s not uncommon to see sea urchins, sea stars, harbor seals, various mollusks, and even octopi. The latter may sound more legit, but if you’re the mother of young boys, you know a day spent chucking rocks in water is the surest way to a boy’s heart.
Looking for more fun ideas? Explore more Half Moon Bay activities
So Many Places to Eat, So Little Time
Try saying “Cameron’s Restaurant, Pub, Inn, RV Park & Campground” three times really fast. The name is quite a mouthful! A visit to Cameron’s Pub is also an eyeful, a tasteful, and a day-of-family-fun-ful! A trip to Half Moon Bay without a visit to Cameron’s Pub would be a happy meal without the toy; ordinary. Don’t settle for mediocre when you can have pizazz. I’ll tell you this, if pizazz was tangible, Cameron could issue shares of its stock!
Sam’s Chowder House is one of Half Moon Bay’s most picturesque seafood restaurants, a lively spot boasting beautiful ocean views from both its dining room and open-air patio. Even if a full-blown dinner isn’t in your family budget, swing by anyway for a few bowls of Sam’s delicious clam chowder enjoyed from Adirondack chairs on the deck and admire the coastal sunset. This spot is not to be missed!
Brunch at The Ritz-Carlton’s Navio is legendary. I’d been hearing about it for years before my visit. When I was finally able to experience it for myself, I found myself wishing two things: that I had been born to great wealth, and that I had skipped dinner the night before. Sadly, my stomach ran out of room before I could try everything.
There’s no shortage of family-friendly restaurants in Half Moon Bay:
- Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is a good spot to kick back with your children and take in a view of the Pacific Ocean while enjoying an ice cold beer and a meal.
- At Princeton Seafood Company, a statue of a stoic bearded fisherman in a bright yellow rain slicker holding a giant fish welcomes your crew inside. My kids couldn’t resist posing for photographs by the old man of the sea. My toddler even tried to have a conversation with him.
- The old-world charm of It’s Italia’s courtyard patio is the perfect place for families to gather and revel in each other’s company.
Disclosure: Thanks to Chamberlin Public Relations for hosting my Half Moon Bay adventure. All opinions are my own.