If a trip to a Northern California coastal town from San Francisco is on your itinerary, and you'd like to avoid the traffic of the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin or Sonoma, consider a relaxing drive south to Half Moon Bay.
View of Half Moon Bay — Photo courtesy of Half Moon Bay Facebook Page
If you're into surfing, then you've probably heard of Half Moon Bay because of its world-famous Mavericks contest, which runs when the winter waves are just right. If you're into golf, you've probably heard of The Half Moon Bay golf links, named one of the top public courses in the country by Golf Digest. And if, for some reason, you're into giant pumpkins, you certainly know that if you even want to compete in the autumn Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival contest, you better bring a flatbed truck because your pumpkin needs to weigh darn near 2,000 lbs to even be considered. Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival — Photo courtesy of Half Moon Bay Facebook Page
And if you're looking for quiet strolls on moonlit beaches, quaint coffee shops and wineries without all the crowds and fuss, and top-notch seafood that doesn't come with any stuffiness, then Half Moon Bay is the town for you. Within walking distance of the spectacular California coast, Half Moon Bay is close enough to San Francisco for a day trip and far enough to be an over-nighter, boasting some of the cutest bed-and-breakfasts you'll find anywhere. And with a new tunnel that will bypass the infamous "Devil's Slide" section of Highway 1 opening in 2013, Half Moon Bay will be more accessible from San Francisco than ever. The views on the drive alone are worth the trip.Pacific Ocean view near Half-Moon Bay — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
As far as "must-sees" in this town of about 11,000 just 25 miles south of San Francisco, if you're into hiking, Montara Mountain is the place to visit. The Pacific Ocean drops right into your lap from the top of this beautiful peak. After that big hike, be sure to load up at The Coastside Farmers' Market, which has fresh and local produce year-round. The constantly mild weather that blesses Half Moon Bay makes for prefect growing conditions for leafy greens, and the local artichokes are to die for. If you need a beer to complement your meal, the Half Moon Bay Brewery has dozens of local favorites on tap.Coastside Farmers Market — Photo courtesy of Half Moon Bay Facebook Page
But, really, the reason to come to California is the Pacific Ocean. Since Half Moon Bay's crescent shape creates a placid waterfront almost year-round, it's a fantastic spot for catching sight of whales by land, kayak or right up close from a tour boat.Half Moon Bay — Photo courtesy of County of San Mateo
If you're ready for an afternoon, an evening or even several days of rest from the bustle of the city, head to Half Moon Bay for a full day of California fun.