A Day Out at Half Moon Bay

The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay (courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton)

Half Moon Bay, or Spanishtown as it was once called, is only about an hour’s car ride away, but once you are there it feels like you have truly escaped to a seaside paradise. It is named for the stunning crescent-shaped harbor situated just north of town, and it’s home to the world-famous Mavericks (the huge swells that draw surfers from near and far in the winter months). During Prohibition, Half Moon Bay with its dense fog and veiled coves became a smuggler’s dream, drawing Canadian rumrunners, which might explain the collection of exceptional breweries and distilleries in the area. The historic downtown is still home to many vintage buildings and there is nary a chain or corporate store to be found on Main Street. Venture a little farther and you’ll find blissful luxury hotels and some of the best seafood in California. Here are a few stops that should not be missed.

417 Main Street

While strolling along Main Street be sure and pop into this charming home-ware store brimming with everything you have been looking for: artisan soaps, hand-poured candles, beautiful throws, market baskets and a whole lot more.

Beach House
4100 North Cabrillo Highway

Situated across the street from the water (and you really can’t beat the central location), the guest rooms provide spectacular views of the bay and easy access to the coastal walking path. Day-trippers can pop in to enjoy the spa, while guests and visitors alike can book a private yoga class on the beach.

Garden Apothecary
329 Main Street

Whether you are looking for locally made teas and clean, botanist-formulated skin care (both made in-house), small gardening tools or native plants, this is your store. Perfectly curated and infinitely charming; we dare you to try and leave empty-handed.

Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
390 Capistrano Road

Come for the beer (they serve a wide array including Kolsch, Saison, IPAs, milk stouts and others) and stay for the expansive, inviting outdoor area and seafood-heavy pub menu. This is where warm California weekends get even better.

The Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company
421 Main Street

One part wine bar and one part gourmet deli, this is the only stop you’ll need to make for your afternoon picnic. The cheese selection is stellar, and you can even grab a freshly baked baguette to go with your favorite bottle of wine.

Jettywave Distillery
155 Broadway

This newly opened distillery offers a variety of libations served at the must-stop-and-stay-awhile Swell Lounge, which also features inspired bites. The owners’ passion for this little enclave is palatable and it is sure to be the local hangout this summer.

Jupiter & Main
432-B Main Street

Craft bitters, artisan salts, classic games, engaging coffee table books, gourmet dog treats, stylish men’s clothing and clean grooming products — this store has all you could ever want and then some. While there is a decisive masculine vibe here, women will love it, too. Promise. 

Sam’s Chowder House
4210 North Cabrillo Highway

It would be a sin to visit Half Moon Bay and not stop here for a lobster roll and a bowl of chowder. Located right on the beach and often voted as having the best seafood around, this place is an institution — and for good reason. No reservations on the weekend (the wait is usually about an hour), but you won’t be sorry.

The Olive Crush
300 Main Street

Foodies will love the vast selection and unique combinations of organic olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Visit the website to get an idea of what they offer, but the assortment is much bigger (and more tempting) in store.

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
1 Miramontes Point Road

For those wanting an immersive luxury getaway, look no further than the Ritz-Carlton. Located on a rugged hillside cliff, the hotel offers a seafood-heavy dining experience at Navio (brunch is always popular), a beautiful spa and not one but two golf courses. You really can experience the best of Half Moon Bay without ever leaving the property.

Cody McCready (courtesy of Garden Apothecary)