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9 Fun Things To Do In Half Moon Bay

9 Fun Things To Do In Half Moon Bay

Here’s are some of the coolest ideas for fun things to do in Half Moon Bay. Hiking, surfing, and horseback riding await!


5 min read

March 02, 2022

David Oliphant is the founder of Ocean Blue Real Estate and is a member of the Recommended Business Program, which highlights only the best businesses in the Golden State. To be featured, each business must be highly regarded, have a unique California story, and make a positive impact in their community. 

Half Moon Bay is a small Northern California town with undeniable charm. Capturing the heart of every visitor with its string of beaches, friendly residents, and plenty of things to do on land and sea, this coastal San Mateo destination is as dreamy as coastal towns get. Surf along the shores, enjoy adventures on horseback, stroll through its downtown, and take part in the lively local events and festivals. If you want to experience Half Moon Bay the right way, these are the activities and experiences you should add to your itinerary. 

1. Visit Downtown Half Moon Bay on Main Street

Half Moon Bay is home to one of the most charming downtowns in California. Despite its quaint and relaxed atmosphere, the streets are lined with ample parks, shops, galleries, eateries, and historic buildings, inviting you for a day of on-foot exploration. Stroll to see where the locals go to eat, shop and socialize, and embrace the local culture like a resident of Half Moon Bay

Since you’re already in the neighborhood, drop by the Ocean Blue Real Estate headquarters and the Ocean Blue Art Vault to say hi and meet the artist collective; we’d be thrilled to have you.

Engage in all sorts of water activities at the El Granada Harbor on your awesome getaway to Half Moon Bay.

2. Vist the El Granada Harbor 

What’s a visit to this town without time spent by the beach? Located inside the jetty across the housing community of El Granada, Harbor Beach is a clean, secluded, and tranquil Half Moon Bay beach you can’t help but love. If you find the harbor all to yourself—which is especially likely if you visit on a weekday—enjoy taking a solo coastal Half Moon Bay hike and watching the birds travel along.  

The Pillar Point Harbor is also a major commercial and sport fishing spot and hosts many public events throughout the year, including the annual Mavericks surfing competition and the Christmas boat decorating contest. Buy some fresh seafood here and walk a few minutes to reach the nearby Jetty Wave Distillery for a bit of apres-beach day unwinding. The skewers, salads, and sharing platters of this Half Moon Bay dining spot are delicious when paired with an ice-cold beverage.

3. Take your Dog to Poplar Beach

Going to the beach is one of the best things to do in Half Moon Bay if you’re visiting with your dog. Of all the beautiful local beaches, Poplar Beach stands as the animal lovers’ favorite. Not only is it incredibly scenic, but it also welcomes both dogs and horses on its sandy shores. Just make sure you keep your pooch leashed to avoid breaking any rules!

Situated just 30 miles south of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay is a great weekend trip and a perfect spot to enjoy the fresh air on hikes.

4. Hike the best Half Moon Bay Trails

Half Moon Bay’s beautiful nature is best experienced up-close on a hike. Whether you want to trek by the coast, through the towering redwoods, or along fields of wildflowers, you’ll find a Half Moon Bay hike that’ll hit the right mark.

Head over to Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve to be surrounded by lush greenery reminiscent of Tahoe or the Lost Coast. Most trails here are lengthier and rated either moderate or hard, so make sure you’re up for the challenge. If you’d rather go on a leisurely stroll, then opt for one of the shorter trails by Half Moon Bay State Beach or head inland to the Burleigh H. Murray Ranch. Whatever trail you choose in Half Moon Bay, California, you’ll be met with incredible vistas all around.

5. Check out the Half Moon Bay’s Top Surf Spots

Renowned for its awesome surf spots, Half Moon Bay is the best place to head to if you want to surf without distractions. Its most popular surf is definitely Mavericks. A perfectly giant wave living up to the hype, Mavericks lies a little less than a half-mile off of Pillar Point, marked by a clump of Stonehenge-like boulders. But if you’re just starting out, you might want to leave Mavericks to the pros and surf the Half Moon Bay Jetty, which is said to be the best break for beginner and intermediate surfers. 

Experience Half Moon Bay's beautiful scenery galloping on horseback along the endless coastline or riding among grassy meadows overlooking the ocean.

6. Explore the Half Moon Bay Coastside On Horseback

Riding horses by the beach is as dreamy of an experience as it sounds. Book a guided tour with SeaHorse Ranch to traverse unspoiled bluffs and see sweeping vistas of the coast on horseback. Whether you’re a first-timer, a seasoned rider, or a true professional, you’ll find horseback riding in Half Moon Bay to be an unparalleled experience.

7. Buy Fresh Produce from the Half Moon Bay Farmers Market 

If you’re visiting from April through December, checking out the local Coastside Farmers Market is one of the best things to do in Half Moon Bay. Taking place every Saturday, the market is a great way to get to know locals, buy organic produce and baked goods, and support the farmers community—this place teems with positive vibes.

8. Take Part in the Festivities of Make it Main Street 

Another awesome seasonal happening in Half Moon Bay is Make it Main Street. Helping Downtown Half Moon Bay come alive every first Thursday from April through November, this event aims to present surprising and entertaining experiences throughout the five blocks of Main Street. Visitors are welcome to get to know local vendors and artists, watch locally made films, listen to musicians, poets, and writers perform, and pop into a range of shops, bookstores, and restaurants. 

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve's tidepool habitat has long been prized as one of the best such habitats in Northern California.

9. Check out the Unique Intertidal Environment at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve 

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is located just north of Pillar Point Harbor and Mavericks; it’s one of the best spots to find tide pools in Northern California. Consisting of a three-mile stretch of beach, marsh, erosive bluffs, clifftop trails, and forests of cypress and eucalyptus, this beautiful destination hosts a rich living community of marine life you’ll marvel at for hours. Among the creatures you might see at this Half Moon Bay destination are algae, crabs, sponges, sea stars, and various small fish. Just make sure to admire the critters in the tide pools from afar, as lifting them can cause intense stress and irreversible damage.

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