Half Moon Bay: A relaxing staycation


An unforgettable, relaxing getaway to northern California can be
found in an area that was settled by Italians and Portuguese at the
turn of the century and was known as Spanish Town.
An unforgettable, relaxing getaway to northern California can be found in an area that was settled by Italians and Portuguese at the turn of the century and was known as Spanish Town.

Its claim to fame was artichokes, Brussels sprouts and farming. Prohibition brought excitement and color to this area, which was dull and dreary during the early 1900s.

Renamed Half Moon Bay by the Canadian rumrunners, the area became a safe harbor and a place to bring in the banned booze, romance and adventure.

This charming area has become known for its rustic main street with unique shops, art galleries and cafes, some of which are housed in renovated 19th century buildings.

Restaurants and inns are an added bonus. A population of more than 10,000 welcome visitors.

Kite flying, bicycling, golfing, hiking, seasonal whale watching, bird watching and festivals throughout the year can keep the most active visitor busy.


A visit to the James V. Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a rewarding one. Discover crabs, starfish and other shore based sea life. This reserve is one of the best places in California to view tidepool life. Explore the three miles of beach and tidal rock inhabited by more than 200 species of marine and inspect the life there at low tide. Remember, marine life is protected and may not be removed. Tide charts are available at bait and fish shops in the area.

A hike to the bluffs that overlook the reserve is rewarded with a stunning view and sound of the ocean’s symphony orchestra. The wind swept cypress trees form cathedrals with their different sizes and offer a photographer an opportunity not to be missed.

For information on the reserve, call (650) 728-3584.


The Beach House Inn is absolutely one of the most pleasant, inviting inns anywhere. A three-story Nantucket type building with Cape Cod flavor nestles into the seashore and offers bright, clean, mini suite loft rooms with panoramic views of sunsets, mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The comfort factor here is so high it becomes difficult to leave your room to explore the wonderful area of Half Moon Bay.

The Beach House Inn offers 54 unique “ocean lofts” and overlooks the Pacific Ocean at Pillar Point Harbor just three miles from Half Moon Bay

Everything is here: two televisions, VCR, stereo, fireplace (logs supplied), tub, terry robe, down pillows and a wet bar/kitchenette with refrigerator and microwave (situated so they do not take from the luxury and the lovely surroundings). There are private patios and king-sized beds with a queen sized sleeper sofa in the living room area.

A heated lap pool, fitness facility and an outdoor Jacuzzi overlooking the Pacific Ocean are hard to pass up after a day of exploring and horse back riding on the beach.

Service is fast and friendly, with gracious and knowledgeable desk staff. They know the area well and can reliably recommend restaurants and attractions.

Daily complementary continental breakfast and an evening wine tasting Friday and Saturdays are offered. Meeting and conference facilities are available with multiple phone and fax lines upon request. The private kitchen offers a wide range of gourmet coastal cuisine for meetings.

For information, call (800) 315-9366.


For ambiance, view, service and great food, the Moss Beach Distillery is a must (a rumrunner’s drop off point in the probation days). Make a reservation to coincide with the glorious pink, yellow and orange pastel sunset, sit back and relax with your favorite pre-dinner drink and enjoy. A comfortable heated and pet-friendly patio awaits you. The varied menu includes fresh local fish and vegetables. The salmon and crab cakes are recommended, and the coffee is special. Sunday afternoons offer the best brunch anywhere, and if you look and listen, you might see and hear the beautiful resident ghost running on the beach. That’s another story. Visit The Moss Beach Distillery and they will give you the details.

Call (650) 728-5595 for reservations.


Visit Sea Horse Ranch and Friendly Acres for a delightful horseback ride on the beach. Al Shipley is the colorful president of this company made up of some very well cared for horses. Organized riding opportunities can be arranged and riding lessons can be provided. The rates are fair and the trails are good. Riding on the beach is breath-taking experience, and young polite wranglers are there to help the tenderfoot. Just beware of one thing: Do not even think of mistreating Mr. Shipley’s horses or you will suffer the wrath of God – or Shipley. We had an example of someone prodding one of the horses with a stick on one of the trails. This was reported by one of the wranglers by a walkie-talkie communication system throughout the trails. They were ordered to bring him in at once, and he was told in so many words to “never darken Sea Horse Ranch again.”

Open every day at 8 a.m. unless weather is prohibitive.

Call (650) 726-9903 for information. Reservations are not required.


Half Moon Bay is just 30 minutes south of San Francisco. A weekend at Half Moon Bay will send you home relaxed and with a smile, guaranteed. Call the Half Moon Bay Coast Side Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau for more information and brochures at (650) 726-8380.

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