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Half Moon Bay boasts an active outdoor life that includes camping, surfing (this is the home of the Mavericks Invitational after all), horseback riding, and cycling. The town also has an artsy flair and a culinary enclave with a following of foodie fans, including a famous annual pumpkin festival worthy of an autumn visit. While some visitors often find themselves here for a conference or a day trip, many leave behind the urban sprawl of Silicon Valley and San Francisco to enjoy the slower pace of the coastal lifestyle, even if only for a weekend getaway. Here are five Half Moon Bay activities to enjoy as a family.
5. Visit Lemos Farm
Lemos Farm is the closest you’ll get to an amusement park around Half Moon Bay. With train and hay rides cruising through the property as well as pony rides, a petting zoo, and so many other adventures to be had, Lemos is a big draw for those under eight. Don’t sweat it though, big kids, there’s also an adventure for the older crowd! Laser Tag Lemos Farm style is an outdoor Wild West shoot out located in the farm’s Christmas tree field. Here visitors can duck, dive, dodge, and battle other shooters from January through August.
4. Explore Pillar Point Harbor
While adorable little shops and art galleries and eateries serving up fresh seafood are the first things one notices upon arrival at Pillar Point Harbor, fishing and surfing are actually the center of the universe here. The fish markets are frequented by locals and the best surfers from around the world descend on the area annually to take on the massive waves at the Mavericks Invitational. Whether passing the time watching the boats go in and out of the marina, fishing from the wharf, playing on the nearby beach, shopping, or taking in some art, there’s something for every member of the family to enjoy at Pillar Point.
3. Get Up Close and Personal with the Sea Life
The tide pools at the Fitzgerald Marine Preserve are a great place for checking out organisms, shells, rocks, driftwood, and more, just don’t take them with you. Access to this no-take protected marine area is tucked into a quaint neighborhood near Moss Beach. Clams, starfish, crabs, and other small creatures are just a short, simple hike from the parking area. So stop by and soak in this wonderful natural spot, just leave it in better shape than you found it in please!
2. Saddle Up
Honestly, I don’t know what it is about horseback riding on the beach – whether it is the wind in my hair, taking the sea air into my lungs, or the sound of horse hoofs on the sand, but this combination of things make my soul soar. Sea Horse Ranch offers a ride that unrolls different elements of this splendid coastal area. Meadows filled with colorful patches of wild flowers, a small gorge with water flowing through it, and a slope opening onto a pristine beach are all part of the adventure. All levels of riding experience are accommodated, and much to our delight, Sea Horse Ranch was even able to provide my autistic son with the necessary support to take a ride with our family and the rest of the group during our coastal excursion on horseback!
1. Hit the Coastside Trail
A paved pathway stretching six miles, the Coastside trail has all sorts of natural delights to reveal to visitors whether their mode for traveling it is by foot or by wheel. Breathtaking views, access to beautiful beaches, parks, and other natural delights abound. Think of it as the area’s spine, connecting all the major Half Moon Bay sites for families to enjoy exploring together. Tackle the entire thing or turn off the trail at a state beach to drop in at a café at the Pillar Point Harbor or another site that suits you. There’s so much to enjoy on this trail.
Places to Eat
All of this outdoor activity is sure to make a family hungry. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Via Uno, on Highway 1 not far from the Sea Horse Ranch, serves up a delectable pizza that is cooked in a wood fired stove with burning olive branches rather than wood chips. The result is a light and delicious pie with a heavenly olive scent to it. Over in Pillar Point, the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is not only a great place to hang out around the fire pits in the restaurant’s patio area, it also serves up fantastic seafood entrees and burgers, each paired with the appropriate hand crafted brew. Head downtown for some creative and flavorful sushi rolls served up in an artful setting at Sushi Main Street. If you can squeeze in a date night on your weekend getaway, a sunset dinner next to one of the large picture windows at Navio, at the Ritz Carlton, is a very romantic option. If you absolutely have to take the kids with you, don’t worry, this gourmet establishment also has a terrific kids’ menu.
Make it a Weekend Getaway
Here are some great, family-friendly hotels in Half Moon Bay:
Affectionately referred to as the “castle on the coast,” the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay is a buzz with family-friendly fun. From star-gazing and expert s’more making to lawn bowling and snuggling by the outdoor fire pits, togetherness and coziness are common themes at this gorgeous resort.
Located just steps from Half Moon Bay’s Pillar Point Harbor, the Oceano Hotel and Spa offers families a centrally located, casual, and comfortable place to rest their heads within a short walk from restaurants, shops, the wharf, and nearby beach.
Read reviews of kid friendly Half Moon Bay lodging on Trekaroo.
Disclosure: Thank you to the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay, Sea Horse Ranch, and Via Uno for hosting my family. Although we received complimentary lodging, meals, and activities to facilitate this article, my opinions are my own and not influenced by staff or its affiliates.