Half Moon Bay Travel Guide


Half Moon Bay General Background

Half Moon Bay General Background

Half Moon Bay, CA is a coastal gem that seems to be untouched by time.  A walk through the center of town is like going back to yesteryear, but don't let the vintage facade fool you, it's home to many delightful restaurants and shops that can cater to just about any interest.

Although Half Moon Bay gets far fewer visitors than its touristy counterparts Santa Cruz and Monterey, its streets swell with people every October when the Art & Pumpkin Festival hits town.  If you plan to attend this highly publicized and populated event, you may want to make hotel reservations early.   

|| Area Snapshot

Location – Located 30 miles south of San Francisco and 45 miles north of Santa Cruz.

Population – Around 13,050 residents

Established   –  The town has been thriving since the early 1900's

Weather   –  Generally speaking, Half Moon Bay has the warmest daytime temperatures during the spring and fall months.   During the summer months, the days can be overcast, foggy, and very chilly  –  especially in June and July .  Winter months are often overcast, rainy and cold.

Primary Industries   –  farming, ranching, fishing, and tourism.

|| Area Attractions:

Eco-friendly Activities  –  Surrounded by the natural beauty of the ocean and green spaces, Half Moon Bay is home to many eco-friendly activities that can cater to just about any outdoor enthusiast.

Fishing & Whale-Watching Tours  –  Charter a boat and enjoy a day of deep-sea fishing or a join in on a whale-watching excursion

Pillar Point Marsh  –  A great location for beach-combers and bird-watchers.

Half Moon Bay State Beach  Made up of several great beaches with long sandy shorelines that are perfect for swimming, surfing, surf fishing, beach-combing, etc.

Agriculture Tourism   Half Moon Bay is surrounded by area gardens, organic farms, demonstration farms, greenhouses and much more.

Half Moon Bay Coastside & Bluff Top Trails  The 3+ mile Bluff Top Trail offers sweeping ocean views for walkers, joggers, strollers and bike riders. It also has easy beach access for sunbathing, kite flying, and picnicking ..

Pillar Point Harbor  –  Full of outdoor activities including boating, kayaking, walking, biking, bird-watching, surf fishing, and much more.

|| Tourist Destinations

City Center   –   Downtown Half Moon Bay offers many unique boutiques, restaurants and book shops.

Harbor Village  –  Located in the Pillar Point Harbor, the recently complete Harbor Village is home to the area's only indoor mall, Oceano Hotel & Spa, and several restaurants

Pasta Moon Restaurant  –  315 Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA (650) 726-5126

Explorer1.com Review: A nice cozy ambiance, great food and service make this a wonderful choice for a special occasion or romantic dinner. Prices range from moderate to expensive.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company  –   390 Capistrano Ave., Pillar Point Harbor, CA  (650) 728-2739

Cetrella Bistro & Café  –   845 Main St., Half Moon Bay, CA (650) 726-4090

Explorer1.com Review ─ Great desserts, good food, and an inviting ambiance make this an excellent choice for a special occasion or romantic dinner. Please note, though, that the menu items can be a little unusual, so it's not the best place for those that aren't adventurous eaters and children. Also, during brunch, I found that their service can be a little below par, and their cocktails can be a little overpowering — especially their bloody Mary. Dinner and brunch prices are expensive.


||  Festivals/Annual Events:

Art & Pumpkin Festival   –  If you plan to attend this highly publicized and populated  event in October, you may want to make hotel reservations early!

Mavericks Annual Surf Contest   –  Just north of Half Moon Bay in Princeton, CA, the famous Mavericks can be found a ½ mile off of the Pillar Point Marsh shoreline.

During the winter months, the perfect set of environmental conditions can come together to create some of the biggest waves on the planet!  Although spectacular to look at, the waves at Mavericks should only be negotiated by professionals.  Less experienced surfers can find more appropriate waves along the local beach beaks.   

December Harbor Lights Ceremony  –  Pillar Point Harbor Info.  (650) 726-5723

For more event listings, please click here >>


What’s on Tap


Half Moon Bay Fall Festivals & Events:

The Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off—Oct. 8, 2018  7am to 11am

The gathering of titanic pumpkins try to capture the coveted title and share of $30,000 in prize money.

Welcome Back Monarchs Day – Sunday Oct. 14, 2018 from 11am to 4pm.

Natural Bridges SB in Santa Cruz welcomes the monarchs back.

Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival—Oct. 13–14, 2018   9am to 5pm

Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA

Half Moon Bay heralds in All Hallows Eve with rustic pumpkin patches, harvest-inspired arts and crafts, entertainment, contests, and activities. Admission is free.

Pumpkin Patches Along the California Coast  – Sept. and Oct. 2018

Half Moon Bay, CA – The coast transforms into a spooky, magical land of orange gourds. Create some great family memories by visiting a local pumpkin farm…

MORE Half Moon Bay Halloween Celebrations  – October 2018

Half Moon Bay heralds in All Hallows Eve with Halloween inspired festivals and events….


For more event information, click on our Festivals & Events page for Half Moon Bay.



Top Fall Attractions:

Pumpkin Patches Along the California Coast  – October

The coast transforms to a spooky, magical land of orange gourds. Create some great family memories by visiting a local pumpkin farm…

Fall is a Great Time to Visit the Coast!

Monterey, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay and Mendocino – Early Fall is generally some of the best weather on the coast. Plan a visit with your family or an escape for a romantic weekend.

Whale Watching – Whale Watching December through May

Half Moon Bay 415 474-3385

Oceanic Society provides boat tours to view the gray whales as they swim north along the California coast on their way to summer feeding grounds.


For more information on local attractions, click on the Half Moon Bay Attractions or Recreational Activities.




The Region’s Fall Advisories:

Traffic Conditions. During the pumpkin season, traffic in to and out of Half Moon Bay can be extremely challenging – especially during the Art & Pumpkin Festival weekend. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and arrive early and leave late. Go to www.caltrans.com to learn about road conditions.

Yes, it’s still water, water, water! California is undergoing an extreme drought. If you are planning a lake vacation be sure to check about water levels. That rafting trip, fishing, or skiing can be impacted.

EXTREME fire danger. The drought has created a very dangerous combination of dry vegetation and no moisture in the air to help contain any fire. Please use extreme caution during your trip.