With iconic lighthouses, charming inns, and fresh seafood straight from the docks, the Half Moon Bay Coastside often draws comparisons to the quaint seaside towns of New England. Make no mistake, our surfer and organic farm-filled shores are undeniably Californian. Yet, there are enough endearing, seaside similarities between the two regions to play along for a weekend. Whether you’re a homesick East Coaster or simply crave a richly atmospheric coastal escape, here are some recs for a fun New England-themed visit, no accent required.

See Lighthouses That Will Have You Beaming

While they’re not ringed in red, barbershop-like stripes like their East Coast counterparts, the two iconic lighthouses that bookend our magnificent coastline are a must visit. The Montara lighthouse bears more than a passing resemblance to New England beacons having originally stood watch over a Cape Cod beach before being relocated to the West Coast in the 1920s.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse - Photo by Garrick Ramirez
Pigeon Point Lighthouse - Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Yet Montara and Pigeon Point Light Station offer much more than captivating historic structures. Decked with colorful gardens, vintage buoys, and romantic whitewashed structures, their oceanfront grounds will quickly immerse you in dazzling coastal splendor and the region’s rich seafaring legacy. There’s plenty to dig into for maritime history buffs, but most visitors will be content to wander the scenic grounds, spy the misty offshore plumes of migrating whales, and fill their Instagram with enchanting seaside imagery.

Enjoy Seaside Charm—and Bowls of Chowder—at Pillar Point Harbor

With a cozy waterfront village and vibrant piers bustling with seafood vendors, this crescent shaped harbor is awash in seaside charm. Wander the docks of Johnson Pier and admire the mass of fishing boats hawking fresh fish and crabs caught just a few hours earlier. An adjacent village teems with coastal home decor shops and classic seafood eateries beckoning with buzzing neon signs and proud versions of creamy New England clam chowder. At Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, you can sample local brews around an outdoor fire pit overlooking harbor waters. Try the Word on the Street IPA, a juicy, hazy take on New England style IPAs which are all the rage in the craft beer world.

Pillar Point Harbor - photo by Garrick Ramirez
Pillar Point Harbor - Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Chomp Lobster Rolls Steps from the Shore

Every New Englander worth their sea salt knows their way around a proper lobster roll. Sam’s Chowder House pays proper homage to the East Coast speciality by stuffing mounds of plump lobster into a locally made brioche bun and serving it alongside crispy potato chips and a tangy slaw. Yet as wondrous as the New England-style seafood dishes are, it’s the outrageously scenic oceanfront setting that will hook you. Nab one of the colorful adirondack chairs in the garden or on a light-strung patio set with blazing fire pits, and enjoy waterfront bliss.

Lobster Roll at Sam's Chowder House - Photo by Garrick Ramirez
Lobster Roll at Sam's Chowder House - Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Dock for the Night at Nantucket Whale Inn

One step inside this luxurious seven-room inn, and it’s clear the owners spent more than a few summers back East. With soothing grey and navy tones, stylish nautical decor, and brilliant hydrangea gardens, the grand 1898 Victorian Inn feels plucked from the shores of Nantucket Island. Handsome guest rooms are named after Nantucket towns, and feature plush bathrobes, toasty fireplaces, and impossibly comfy beds. In the morning, wake to a homemade, two-course breakfast that, if you’re lucky, includes the innkeeper’s crisp, heavenly waffles.

Guest Room at Nantucket Whale Inn - Photo by Garrick Ramirez
Guest Room at Nantucket Whale Inn - Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Ready to experience the Coastside's unique charm for yourself? Our Half Moon Bay hotel listings allow you to search for available rooms at all area hotels, so you're sure to find the perfect place to stay. See you soon!

Garrick Ramirez is a freelance writer and photographer who loves sharing compelling destinations within California. As a native, he has yet to tire of exploring the many cities, small towns, and natural splendor found throughout the state. His travel guides have appeared in the SF Chronicle, Via Magazine, and The Mercury News among others. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and son.