Half Moon Bay for the Holidays

Celebrate the Season

You won’t see much snow on the Half Moon Bay Coastside, but you can still experience your own winter wonderland when you’re here during the holiday season. Here are some of our favorite things to do when the days grow short.

Fill Up on Crab

Dungeness crab season in California arrives in early November, so it’s no surprise that crab is a huge part of many Coastsiders’ holiday feasts. If you want to catch them yourself, Pillar Point Harbor is home to a number of charter boats that will be happy to take you out on the water and help you get your limit.

If you’d rather let someone else catch them, you can also buy crab directly from the docks at the harbor and take them home to prepare in your own kitchen. And if you just want to skip all that work and get to the good part — eating crab — the Half Moon Bay area is home to a number of fine seafood restaurants, each with their own mouth-watering renditions of our favorite crustacean on the menu.

Half Moon Bay is home to a number of fine seafood restaurants, each with their own mouth-watering crab dishes.

Shop Small For a Big Impact

The holiday shopping season traditionally kicks off with Black Friday on the day after Thanksgiving, conjuring images of crushing crowds rushing through big-box stores in search of elusive deals on this year’s hottest gadgets. We’d like to invite you to slow it down a bit.

The Coastside is home to hundreds of small businesses with nary a big-box store in sight, and Shop Small Saturday is the perfect time to reimagine your holiday shopping routine. Downtown Half Moon Bay, Pillar Point Harbor, and downtown Pescadero are all home to unique shops where you can find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list, on Shop Small Saturday or any other day of the year.

Shopping on Main Street
Half Moon Bay’s historic Main Street is lined with dozens of quaint shops and boutiques.

See the Lights

The Coastside has not one, but two nights dedicated to holiday lights. Night of Lights, on the second Friday in December, is a free old-fashioned holiday event held in downtown Half Moon Bay on the second Friday in December. The trees that line Main Street are decked out in dazzling lights and many stores stay open late so you can do some holiday shopping as well. There’s also a tree lighting ceremony in Mac Dutra Park, carolers and other music, and the beloved Parade of Lights down Main Street.

Then, on the following night, the Pillar Point Harbor Lighted Boat Festival invites locals and visitors alike to stroll along Pillar Point Harbor to view boats festively adorned with holiday lights and other trimmings. The best decorated boat will be chosen in the Annual Boat Decorating Contest. If you want to catch both nights (and you should) stay the night with one of our local lodgers.

Roasting Chestnuts
Revelers roast chestnuts at the annual Night of Lights event in Half Moon Bay.

Cut Your Own Christmas Tree

Some call Half Moon Bay the Pumpkin Capital of the World, but after those gigantic gourds are gone, agriculture of the evergreen variety takes the spotlight. Sure, you can pick up a pre-cut tree almost anywhere this time of year, but the tree farms in Half Moon Bay offer families a chance to choose and cut their own tree just like in the old days. It’s a family outing you won’t soon forget, and Half Moon Bay is one of the few places in the Bay Area where you can still cut your own tree.

Cutting Christmas Tree
Tree farms in Half Moon Bay offer a chance to cut your own Christmas Tree.

However you celebrate, winter in Half Moon Bay is a magical time of year. For a truly amazing experience, visit mid-week when everyone else is at work — there’s nothing quite like the feel of having a beach all to yourself for a winter stroll, and Half Moon Bay’s mild climate means outdoor activities are on the menu year round, although you’ll probably prefer to enjoy the beach in a sweater rather than a swimsuit during the winter. If you’re going to stay for a few days, check here for the best deals on accommodations.