Long, sandy beaches, miles of coastal bike paths, hot clam chowder with an ocean view, hoppy beers served inside breweries … these are just a few highlights of California’s Half Moon Bay. It makes a perfect coastal getaway but is still off-path enough that you can find your own slice of paradise.
Half Moon Bay is a small town of less than 15,000 people on the coast just south of San Francisco. Weekends here are full of day trippers from the Bay Area and beyond, but if you can carve out at least a couple of days, you’ll find that this town is an easy destination for families seeking beautiful nature. What’s more, you can make a whole trip out of exploring the area’s food and drinks. Here’s how to do it.
What and Where to Eat in Half Moon Bay
Goat Cheese Galore
Harley Farms Goat Dairy offers tours and cheese tastings to the public on its farm in the old fishing town of Pescadero, about 30 minutes south of Half Moon Bay. The 90-minute tour and tasting includes time to mingle with the animals, a tour of the milking facility and a stop in the 1910 dairy stables to admire the craftsmanship of local woodworker “Three Finger Bill.” Naturally, the tour concludes with tastings of the farm’s award-winning cheeses.
Harley Farms is located at 205 North Street in Pescadero off Highway 1. The farm and shop are open Friday-Sunday, 11a to 4p.
Classic Chowder on the Water
Any visit to Half Moon Bay must include lunch at the iconic Sam’s Chowder House. This is one of the most popular seaside restaurants in the region, so reservations are a must on weekends and in high season. The deck overlooking the water is a big draw not only for the view but also for the live music.
At Sam’s Chowder House, expect fresh, sustainably sourced seafood in lobster rolls, oysters, the catch of the day (served with local vegetables) and, of course, their clam chowder. As parents, you’ll appreciate the kids’ menu — instead of the usual chicken fingers and burgers, the menu offers fresh, kid-size fish portions with seasonal veggies.
Sam’s Chowder House is located at 4210 N. Cabrillo Highway and is open daily from lunch through dinner.
Want help planning a California vacation with kids?
Our Family Vacation Advisors can help you create the best itinerary, book accommodations, recommend kid-friendly activities and more. Click to get started! >
A Taste of Italy
Via Uno brings a taste of southern Italy to coastal California. Traditional dishes like carbonara and spaghetti alle vongole are made with seafood sourced nearby, local cheeses and seasonal produce from area farms and dairies. Pair an entrée with an Italian wine and finish with tiramisu or another a classic Italian dessert.
Via Uno is located at 2810 CabrilloHighway and is open daily.
IPAs and Other Brews
Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. sits across from the water at Pillar Point Harbor, just a half-mile from the world-famous Mavericks surfing area. Expect the usual brewery food plus oysters, chowder, lobster rolls and ceviche. The brewery serves IPAs in both west coast and east coast style and seasonal brews (think pumpkin ale in the fall).
Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. is located at 390 Capistrano Rd. and is open 11a-9p for lunch and dinner and brunch on weekends starting at 10a. In nice weather, grab a seat on the dog-friendly patio and save time for a walk around the old harbor.
Hop Dogma Brewing Co. may be located in a shopping center, but the modern tap room and kid-friendly vibe means parents will be pleased. Beer selections include the typical California lineup: hazy IPAs, a kettle sour and a dessert-inspired stout. Kids will appreciate the retro video game and old-timey bubble gum machine across from the brewery entrance.
Hop Dogma Brewing Co. is located at 270 Capistrano Rd. #22 and is open Monday-Thursday 2p-10p and Friday and Saturday 12p-10p.
Something for Wine Lovers
This being California, you don’t have to go far to try local wines. Stop at La Nebbia for a tasting of their whites and reds, and enjoy the kid-friendly garden with picnic tables and a bocce ball court.
La Nebbia is located at 12341 San Mateo Road and is open daily 10a-5p. The tasting fee is $12 per person.
Where to Stay
Beach House Half Moon Bay combines a perfect waterfront location and cozy, family-friendly suites. Each of the spacious rooms features a kitchenette, a sitting area with a sleeper sofa and a patio or balcony. In the morning, you and your family can enjoy an array of just-baked pastries, fresh fruit and organic coffee; after a day out, come back to the suite to relax. There’s a coastal trail just behind the property, a perfect place for little ones to burn off some energy, and the beach and harbor are a short walk away.
Editor’s Note: Photos by Jenna Francisco.