How to spend the perfect weekend in Half Moon Bay

The gorgeous seaside town of Half Moon Bay is a short drive about 35 miles south of San Francisco. With stunning coastal views and a beachy vibe, consider adding this northern California coastal village to your list of places to visit.

Here’s how to spend a great weekend in Half Moon Bay.

Note: Some of the information in this article was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are mine.

Half Moon Bay Art Glass with Friends

Image credit: SJ Morgensen

Things to do in Half Moon Bay

1. Glassblowing at Half Moon Bay Art Glass

In Half Moon Bay Art Glass, you can explore the ancient glass craft on your own. Take a look around the studio on various projects and choose your own. Once you’ve chosen your colors, it’s time to get to work. You’ll be given a pair of safety goggles and gloves, and the owner, Doug, will show you the way.

While carefully inserting the blowpipe into the 2,000-degree Fahrenheit oven, watch the shape of your glass. Then, you’ll twist and turn the rod into your chosen colors, and things will really come out. I may not be an artist, but I was that day as I carefully made a paperweight in my heart. What a pleasure! Half Moon Bay Art Glass is the perfect place to learn about the art of glassblowing. They have taught over 7,000 students in the past 10 years, and we welcome you to discover your inner Dale Chihuly!

Pro tip: If you’re in town on the first Thursday of the month, check out Make It Main Street and find the Glass Blowing At Half Moon Bay portable trailer on Main Street. Watch Ron work his magic and buy a handcrafted glass treasure to take home.

Horse riding on Half Moon Bay
Horse riding on Half Moon Bay

Image credit: jfarr / Shutterstock.com

2. Horse Riding at Sea Horse Farm

The dream of riding a horse on the beach has become a reality at Seahorse Ranch. This family owned business has been thriving in Half Moon Bay for many years and the people here are eager to help you realize your dreams. Make a reservation of your choice to ride the trail and upon arrival you will be equipped with your horse and helmet. With the help of experienced guides, you will soon appreciate the beauty of the coast as you roam the fields of wildflowers and volunteer herbs.

Talk to your neighbors on horseback as you make your way along the secluded paths toward the beach. Next, you will be instructed on a short trick, and as my neighbor, the former bull rider advised me to rest and relax! The crashing waves provide a relaxing soundtrack as you make your way along the beach and soak up the beauty of the calm ocean. It is truly a unique trail trip that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Shopping on the main street
Shopping on the main street

Image credit: SJ Morgensen

3. Shopping in the main street

Discover the shops on Main Street in Half Moon Bay. Marvel at Cottage Industries’ stunning handcrafted furniture, peruse interesting finds at Jupiter & Main and sister store Juno’s Mercantile, and be sure to stop by Feed & Fuel for everything from Western clothing to live chicken!

Surf on Half Moon Bay
Surf on Half Moon Bay

Image credit: SJ Morgensen

4. Explore the beaches

Surfing is home to the legendary Maverick House, and beaches abound. In the morning you can walk along the beach and watch the kids learn to surf at the surf school. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

devil slice
devil slice

Image credit: Droneandy / Shutterstock.com

5. Stroll the trails

Not to be overtaken by the sea, the land around Half Moon Bay offers great scenery and excellent walking. Try the Devil’s Slide and the Purisima Creek Trail.

coastal path
coastal path

Image credit: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

6. Bike along the coast

Enjoy the views of the Pacific Ocean as you cycle along the coastal path. Pick up your bikes from Half Moon Bay Kayak and hit the road. If you prefer exploring things from the water, self-contained paddleboard rentals, as well as both single and double kayaks, have you covered. They even offer guided tours via kayak or paddleboard, so you can get your whole group together on the water for a fun adventure!

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
Author enjoying a drink with a friend at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

Image credit: SJ Morgensen

Restaurants in Half Moon Bay

7. Half Moon Bay Brewing Company

Founded in 2000, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company has been the first legal brewery on the San Mateo coast since the late 1800s. Today, it is one of the main destinations on Via Capistrano and is the perfect place to enjoy an outdoor table, a cold beer or a homemade cocktail, and relax. With a large full bar plus indoor and outdoor seating, there’s plenty of space for everyone at this award-winning restaurant and factory.

For a light and fun lunch, try the daily special of halibut topped with fresh mango sauce, served with broccoli, cauliflower, mashed parsnips and lobster sauce. A crispy seafood sampler is also a good option. We dug into this huge array of hot fish including calamari, local beer-covered cod from BrewCo, and prawns. Served with fries, tartar sides and cocktail sauce, this was more food than we could bear.

Supreme Soup: Try the clam chowder, which has been named one of the best chowders outside of New England food web.

La Costanera at Half Moon Bay
Lava Chocolate Cake at La Costanera in Half Moon Bay

Image credit: SJ Morgensen

8. The Coast

Perfect service, creative cocktails and extraordinary food. What else does one need? Not sure what to order from the menu in Peru? The people at La Costanera are professionals when it comes to making delicious suggestions.

Discover the national drink, Pisco Sour, and let your taste buds come alive as you sip on this ultra-smooth cocktail. Expertly crafted behind the bar and with a hummingbird design on the frothy top, this drink is my new favorite. Al, the ambassador at La Costanera, told us that the hummingbird design that graces the top of the brew is a nod to the ancient Peruvian Nazca lines. Our very enjoyable evening had a great start!

With drinks on hand, be sure to sample the homemade chips and sauce. These aren’t your typical Mexican food, but rather crunchy, Peruvian-style chips and a cilantro dressing that I love. Delish!

Whether you choose a spot on the large patio near the outdoor fire pits, a cozy spot in the cozy first floor bar, or upstairs in the spacious dining area, you’ll be greeted by friendly, knowledgeable staff, all waiting to help you.

For a taste of heaven on earth, try the Pescado a lo Macho, which includes grilled seasonal fish fillet over a seafood stew. Mine included mussels, oysters, shrimp, octopus, and swordfish all served in a delicious roco-paprika sauce, served with coconut rice. It was simply magical and one of the best appetizers I have ever had. My dining partner devoured her salmon bandido entree dish. Comprising of grilled wild-caught plancha salmon with grilled kabocha purée and reduced hookah, it’s definitely a mouthwatering dish. La Costanera serves creative and tastefully delicious dishes. I bet this restaurant will earn a spot in your best dining experiences, as it does for me.

Choice of bar guards: Pisco Sour Journey, sample 3 biscuits: Traditional, Maracuya, and Cucumber.

Delicious dessert: I request Delicious lava cake with delicious chocolate.

Sam's Soup House
Sam’s Soup House

Image credit: SJ Morgensen

9. Sam’s Soup House

Some of the best seafood in town is served here at the award-winning Sam’s Chowder House. Located right on the beach overlooking the bay, the views are incredible and the food is even better.

Start with something from Sam’s Fresh Oyster Bar, where you’ll obviously find oysters as well as seafood cocktails and ceviche. Indulge in award-winning lobster rolls, served naked or dressed. Ordering cold smoked salmon with pickled cucumbers, herbed cream cheese and toast points proves that simplicity doesn’t mean boredom. vote by San Francisco Magazine As one of the three best al fresco dining spots in the Bay Area, Sam’s Chowder House will make you feel loved.

Creative appetizers: Try this winning combination of a colorful mix of grilled cherry tomatoes, jumbo shrimp, topped with pesto sauce, and served hot in a cast iron grill.

10. The Garden Deli Café in San Benito

Among the quaint shops on Main Street, Garden Deli Cafe in San Benito usually has a line outside the door. We found the line moving fast enough and the short wait was well worth it.

A vegan sandwich made of avocado and cheese topped with fresh lettuce, onions, pickles and tomatoes, served on our homemade wheat choice of wheat. The pork and bean soup of the day was delicious as well. This casual grab-and-go place is consistently rated as one of the best sandwich spots on the coast.

Pro tip: Get your grub to go and grab a table on the adjoining patio. Acoustic musicians play as we eat our lunch prepared for a relaxing afternoon.

Beach House Hotel in Half Moon Bay
Beach House Hotel

Image credit: SJ Morgensen

Hotels in Half Moon Bay

11. Beach House

A comfortable, spacious and idyllic beachfront location is one of the reasons you will love staying at The Beach House.

Offering 500 square feet of all-suite accommodations, you’ll have everything you need and then some at the Beach House. A small fridge and microwave in the room make it easy to grab a snack, and the Beach House offers the option to order cocktails for your special happy hour. We loved the daily continental breakfast included with our stay, the fireplace in the room, the gorgeous hot tub and of course the amazing views of the bay from the private balcony. You’ll also love the possibility to walk to Sam’s Chowder House right next door, as well as the coastal path just behind the property, providing easy access to Pillar Point Harbor.

12. Oceano Hotel & Spa

Steps from Pillar Point Harbor, you’ll enjoy your stay in a luxury suite or villa at the Oceano Hotel & Spa. At the on-site Oceano Bar & Grill, you can relax with a cocktail or enjoy a full meal prepared by the chefs. Then, stroll to the nearby stores in Harbor Village for a retail treat.

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