Just 50 minutes outside of San Francisco and 20 miles from the SFO airport, Half Moon Bay marks a great entry point to the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) if you are driving to or from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I highly recommend stopping in this adorable little area for one to two nights, not only to explore the town, but to stay in one of the most gorgeous and comprehensive properties I have stayed on, The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay.
Overview and Room
This luxury oceanfront Ritz-Carlton resort has a 36-hole golf course, 16,000 square-foot award-winning spa, over 250 guest rooms, two restaurants, and a wine bar, ALL on the property.
So...While I will share other recommendations for food/drink and activity outside of the hotel, you can understand why this Half Moon Bay guide is primarily all about this resort-- given that we essentially didn't leave the property, because why would you need to with all of those amazing amenities and offerings?
Upon checking in, the warm and friendly staff went above and beyond to accommodate us and make great recommendations for activities and dining in the area. The staff had kindly reserved beach cruisers for us at their clubhouse for us to have a sunset bike ride along the 7.5 mile coastal trail right on the property, so we were eager to get up to the room to drop our luggage.
First met with the stunning coastal view from our room, I almost didn't notice that we had a little welcome package waiting for us on the table! Both my inner child and adult self were supremely excited to see a bottle of local California wine and a s'mores kit to use by the outdoor firepits overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Once I was able to tear myself away from and avoid sneaking a bite of the Ghirardelli chocolate inside the s'mores kit, I fell in love with the beautiful room's beach-inspired decor. They even include a bath fizz bar in the offered toiletries, so only the thought of our impending bike ride lured me away from jumping into the bathtub straightaway for a dreamy bath.
The Property and Activities
We then headed out to the clubhouse to go pick up our bikes, and got to have a little self-guided tour of some of the property. That golf course is legitimate and sprawls everywhere, and the vegetation everywhere is maintained beautifully.
While a part of me wished that it wasn't so foggy so we could have gotten some of that photographic West Coast sunset by the water, exploring the grounds and biking in the lush greenery with the mystical fog surrounding us made it feel like we were in Scotland or Ireland.
Dining and Spa
After returning from the delightful bike ride, our tummies were ready for some food. We decided to have our dessert first, so we grabbed our s'mores pack and headed down to the fire pits. I haven't had a s'more in maybe about 10 years? What an awesome way to feel like a little kid again, but this time getting to have an adult glass of red wine to pair with it! The fire pits were indeed the perfect place to soak up the view and just relax.
We decided to stay in for dinner and dine at The Conservatory, the in-house restaurant open late until 11pm for stragglers like us. I don't have any photos of the food that we ate, because at that point I had completely forgotten about my phone in the best way. I think I was in a mildly euphoric state, from the s'mores, scenic views, the amazing charcuterie & cheese platter, and the unbelievable braised short-rib.
The Conservatory does California fine-dining extremely well: ultra-fresh, local, organic, seasonal, and sustainable ingredients, not overcomplicated. The little herb "Live-Growing Wall," as they call it (pictured on bottom right above), is used to make hand-crafted house cocktails that were also deliciously innovative.
After heading off to bed in an utter food coma, we got some much-needed rest and got up bright and early to experience the award-winning spa, which is open to all guests of the resort. Mineral co-ed bath (bring your bathing suit!), steam rooms, saunas, showers, a fireplace- this oasis has it all.
In a happy, relaxed state, we then grabbed some fresh breakfast in the Navio dining room. I cannot express how jealous I am of Californian produce- the berries, avocado, etc. So fresh that you can truly taste the difference!
It was my first time having the complete Ritz-Carlton experience, and it truly lives up to its 5-star reputation: the service, amenities, decor, and overall experience. The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay in particular is in such a gorgeously unique setting, right on the coastal cliffs of the Pacific Coast, so I feel there's something special about this location. Like I said before, it would make for the dreamiest romantic getaway and I can only imagine how beautiful outdoor events are on this property.
Now, I bring you the summary of all my Half-Moon Bay guide recommendations! We got to explore the town on the early leg of our trip, so I've included those below, and then the rest of the local recommendations were made by the wonderfully kind and thoughtful staff at The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay.
Half Moon Bay Guide & Recommendations
WHERE TO STAY:
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK:
The Conservatory, for California local fare & late night
Navio, for seafood fine dining
Pasta Moon, for contemporary Italian (get the butternut squash ravioli!)
It's Italia, for rustic Italian
Sushi Main Street, for Sushi
Barbara's Fishtrap, for casual beachy seafood (get the fish & chips!)
Sam's Chowder House, for oysters/shellfish (get the lobster roll!)
Half Moon Bay Brewing Co, for beers, music, and brewery food
WHERE TO EXPLORE:
Historic Main Street, for eats and shopping
Pillar Point Harbor, for beachside eats (some listed above)
Purisma Creek Redwoods, for hiking and iconic redwoods (easy-medium level hike)
Coastal Trail, for biking and walking
Santa Cruz Mountains, for wineries and parks