Beyond the Beach

More Fresh-Air Fun in Half Moon Bay

Feeling cooped up at home for too long can make us all a little stir-crazy. Fortunately, the Half Moon Bay Coastside offers a plethora of outdoor activities that will get you out of the house and into the fresh coastal air.

We want you to enjoy our Coastside safely, so be aware that many facilities are taking new precautions and have modified services available. Please check with your destination directly before finalizing your plans. 

Half Moon Bay has an abundance of outdoor fun waiting for visitors, whether you’re craving relaxation, adventure, or a bit of both. And while we love a day at the beach, the Coastside has so many other outside activities that you don’t want to miss, so here are some of our favorite things to do in the open air.

Bike the Coastal Trail

All of the California Coastal Trail is beautiful, but it’s the five-mile stretch between Poplar Beach and Pillar Point Harbor that’s particularly appealing to cyclists. Wide, flat, and well-paved, it’s accessible to even novice riders, making it a perfect way for the whole family to take in the sea air. Bike rentals are available at Bike Works in Half Moon Bay and at Half Moon Bay Kayak Company in the harbor.

Bluffs Above Poplar Beach
Cyclists on the bluffs above Poplar Beach – Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Visit a Farm

We may be most famous for our pumpkin patches, but that’s far from the only agriculture you can experience on the Coastside. Harley Farms is a working goat dairy that offers a chance to meet the goats (babies arrive in the spring) and learn about cheesemaking. Lemos Farm is open year-round with family activities like pony rides and a petting zoo. Andreotti Family Farm operates their produce stand every weekend, but the real treat is in the fall when their you-pick sunflower field opens up.

Dee Harley of Harley Farms - Photo by Garrick Ramirez
Dee Harley of Harley Farms – Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Saddle Up

Horseback riding offers a chance to see the Coastside from a slightly higher vantage point. Sea Horse Ranch offers rides along the blufftops and down to the beach, and Moss Beach Ranch will take you above the Coastside to the breathtaking riding trails of Rancho Corral de Tierra. Both cater to riders of all skill levels.

Horseback riding
Sea Horse Ranch and Moss Beach Ranch offer visitors the chance to see the Coastside on horseback.

Take a Hike

Our Half Moon Bay Trail Guide shows you the best local trails that the Coastside has to offer. Take a leisurely stroll along the wide paved path of the Devil’s Slide Trail, or work up a sweat on the 8-mile round-trip climb to the top of Montara Mountain. Discover blufftop views of the Pacific or explore an ancient redwood forest. Whichever trail you choose, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful way to get your exercise.

Aerial view of the Devil’s Slide Trail, looking north toward Pacifica and Point Reyes – Photo by Vito Palmisano

Dine Outdoors

Many local restaurants now offer outdoor dining areas, with plenty of room between tables so that diners can feel safe and relaxed. Or grab a take-out meal and enjoy it on the beach (just remember to pack your trash, garbage cans are in short supply in some areas). Our Half Moon Bay Coastside dining directory highlights restaurants that offer outdoor dining, take-out, and delivery.

Miramar Beach Restaurant
Outdoor dining on the patio at Miramar Beach Restaurant – Photo by Kevin Henney

Play a Round of Golf

Half Moon Bay Golf Links is home to not one, but two, world-class golf courses. Both courses have garnered numerous awards including top rankings in polls from Golf Digest, Travel + Leisure, and Businessweek. The stunning courses have drawn celebrity golfers like Bob Hope and sports icons from Joe DiMaggio to Stephen Curry, and played host to prestigious tournaments including the LPGA Samsung Golf Championship.

Half Moon Bay Golf Links
Spread across dramatic coastal bluffs, the duo of courses at Half Moon Bay Golf Links offer two distinct experiences.

Watch for Birds

Half Moon Bay has become well known as a favorite destination for birders. Bird watchers have spotted 458 different species in the area, representing almost half of the 1,000 species that live in the continental United States. Pillar Point Harbor, Pescadero Marsh, and Burleigh Murray Ranch State Park are especially popular spots. Great Blue Herons, Brown Pelicans, and Western Gulls can be seen in abundance, but you might also spy rarities like Ross’s Gull or the Red-Footed Booby.

birdwatching in Half Moon Bay
Bird watchers have spotted 458 different species on the Coastside.

Go Out on the Water

Charter boats out of Pillar Point Harbor take visitors out to sea for sportfishing, whale watching, tours, and even the occasional wedding ceremony. A day out on a vessel like the Huli Cat, Riptide, Queen of Hearts, or Ankeny Street is a great way to experience the open ocean. Or if you’d prefer to captain your own ship, closer to shore, a rented kayak from Half Moon Bay Kayak Company allows you to have a whole boat to yourself.

Charter boats in Pillar Point Harbor
Charter boats in Pillar Point Harbor

Fish from the Jetty

Fishing from a boat is just one way to catch your limit, but many people prefer to fish from the jetty that separates the harbor from the open ocean. And because it’s considered a public pier, you can fish off the jetty without a California fishing license (all other angling rules still apply).

Fishing from the jetty at sunset.
Fishing from the jetty at sunset.

Catch a Wave

Half Moon Bay has become synonymous with big-wave surfing, but the waters around Surfer’s Beach produce more modest waves that appeal to a broader audience. Unless you’re an experienced surfer, though, you’re going to want to stick to the waters just south of the harbor, and leave the huge breaks like Mavericks to the professional surfers. If a bigger board is more your style, rent a stand-up paddleboard – the calm waters of the inner harbor are an ideal place to learn to SUP.

A surfer rides the waves at Surfer
A surfer rides the waves at Surfer’s Beach

Explore the Harbor

Walk down Johnson Pier, where you can buy freshly-caught fish right off the boats. Pillar Point Harbor is also home to small shops; stock up on surfing gear and apparel at Mavericks Surf Shop and The Surf Factory, then check out the coastal chic gifts at Nasturtium. And of course you’ll find fresh-as-it-gets seafood at a number of fantastic restaurants (see them all in our dining directory).

Pillar Point Harbor
A bird’s-eye view of Pillar Point Harbor

Stroll Down Historic Main Street

Skip the malls and head to Half Moon Bay’s charming downtown. Over one hundred shops, boutiques, and eateries await you, many along the town’s historic Main Street that dates to the 1800’s. Step back in time with our self-guided walking tour, then indulge in a little retail therapy, followed by a bite to eat

Downtown Half Moon Bay
Downtown Half Moon Bay is host to dozens of beautiful stores, galleries, cafés and places to explore

Visit Redwood Forests

Take this scenic drive though the redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains, overlooking the Coastside. Stand at the foot of the 1800-year-old Methuselah Tree, the tallest largest redwood on the peninsula with a trunk that’s 14 feet in diameter. You’ll also discover fantastic nurseries, wineries, and restaurants along the way.

The Methuselah Tree is 1800 years old. Photo by Garrick Ramirez
The Methuselah Tree is 1800 years old. Photo by Garrick Ramirez

Beaches? We have those, too!

Even with so many other outdoor activities to choose from, sometimes you just need to feel the sand between your toes. The Coastside is fortunate to have over 20 separate beaches, from Gray Whale Cove, north of Montara, to Año Nuevo, south of Pescadero. More local beach information is available on our Beaches page.

Gray Whale Cove
Gray Whale Cove

Stay a few days

With so much to do on the Half Moon Bay Coastside, you’ll find it difficult to experience it all in one day. Fortunately, the area has a range of accommodations for your stay, from luxury resorts to quaint bed & breakfasts – explore them all in our lodging section and plan to stay with us for a while!

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