We visited Half Moon Bay back in October and one of my favorite things was to stroll downtown on the main street and browse all the quaint shops. From galleries to bookstores to coffee shops, you get a feel for the town and the people that live there.
Here is a nice listing of family friendly activities to explore when you head to this lovely coastal town.
12391 San Mateo Road (Highway 92)
Telephone: (650) 726-6440
Pastorino’s offers a retail nursery year round for plants, cut flowers, and gifts. In addition, Pastorino’s offers a friendly environment for birthday parties and corporate events among our fresh flower fields and plant greenhouses.
During the month of October, Pastorino’s offers a seasonal pumpkin farm. Our pumpkin farm offers beautiful gifts, food, children’s activities, (hay rides, train rides, ponies, pet and feed farm animals, giant slides and jumpers). In addition, on the weekends we also offer a haunted house and face painting. And of course a field of pumpkins to choose from.
Boasting miles of unspoiled beaches, families will enjoy the tranquility and natural beauty of the California coast without crowds of people. There are more than two dozen beaches in the vicinity offering abundant aquatic life, water adventures, sandcastle building, picnicking, horseback riding, harbor seal spotting and hiking. Catch a few rays or simply recline with a good book at one of the many peaceful local beach spots.
Farmer John’s Pumpkin Farm/Daylight Farms
850 North Cabrillo Highway
Drop by Daylight Farms to browse vegetables, herbs, and flowers- -including their vast dahlia garden (seasonal). Take the kids to feed baby ducks, see majestic peacocks and pick their own strawberries. Or embark on a car cruise to the stunning Yerba Buena Nursery, which specializes in native California plants and ferns and often offers tea service.
Coastal Elegance Tours
Enjoy unique and beautiful northern California coast on a guided eco-hike or bike tour with the whole family. With local nature photographers as guides, guests will learn about nature, observe wildlife and take home special memories from this outdoor experience. There are frequent sightings of harbor seals, brown pelicans, wild flowers and beautiful vistas while traveling along easy trails along the Pacific coastal bluffs and secluded beaches. Kids under 12 are free and can celebrate their birthday on the beach after a fun bike ride with complimentary double chocolate brownies with candles. The adventure includes Leki trekking poles, fanny packs, bandannas, water, a nature guide and delicious organic snacks. $85 per guest over 12 years of age.
For spectacular views of the Pacific and to experience the natural beauty of the area at its best, enjoy an easy walk or a bike ride with the family along the Coastal Trail. Approximately seven miles, the trail runs from Pillar Point Harbor to The Ritz-Carlton and offer sweeping seaside views, first-rate bird watching and easy beach access. Special Note: the trail is only paved from Pillar Point Harbor to Poplar Beach.
Coastal Repertory Theatre
1167 Main Street
For more than 25 years, families have been surprised, inspired and delighted watching memorable musical, comedic and dramatic performances at the Coastal Repertory Theatre. Performances ranging from “The Sound of Music” to “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” are sure to entertain and engage the whole family. The Coastal Repertory also delivers a youth educational program, Coastal Theatre Conservatory (CTC), with various acting class levels to improve improvisational skills, audition technique, and dance.
1500 Purisima Creek Road
The Elkus Ranch is home to sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits, miniature donkeys, cows, pigs, and horses along with an abundance of native plants and animals. In the Summer Discovery Camps, kids can come and experience life on a ranch by helping with daily chores, working in the gardens, hiking the Elkus trails and creating a special project to take home. With five sessions running June through August, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m daily, kids ages 6 – 11 can sign up for $50/day/child. Also visit Elkus Ranch during “Sheep to Shawl,” held each year on the second Saturday in June from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, where families can watch the magic as the sheep get sheared and their coat becomes fabric. Elkus Ranch is not open for public visits and reservations
are required for Sheep to Shawl and the Summer Discovery Camp.
Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
200 Nevada Avenue, Moss Beach
(650) 728-3584 (info line)
(650) 363-4021 (group tours)
This rocky seashore hosts and protects a complex but fragile community of marine life that the entire family will enjoy. The Reserve was established in 1969 to protect hundreds of marine plant and animal species and since then scientists have discovered 25 new marine invertebrate and plant species here. Families will love to explore the tide pools to discover the spectacular variety of seaweed, crabs, sponges, sea stars, mollusks and fish. The best time to visit the Reserve is during a zero or negative low tide, when the rocks are exposed. On the weekends and holidays, friendly volunteer naturalists rove the tide pools to answer questions. The Reserve is not suited for younger children. Groups of 10 or more are required to make reservations before visiting.
Half Moon Bay Art Glass
12341-1 San Mateo Road (Hwy 92)
Children will love creating a piece of art in this fascinating hot glass class. With more than 10 years of experience teaching children, owner Doug Brown teaches kids how to create a paperweight, heart or pumpkin out of glass to take home with them. The class is approximately 15 minutes and is available on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $40 per person.
Half Moon Bay Kayak Company
2 Johnson Pier
Families looking for an ocean adventure will find it at Half Moon Bay Kayak Company. Parents can take their kids on guided sea kayak trips that include viewing sea life in the harbor as well as tide pooling on a nearby beach. For kids trying to perfect their water skills, five-day kayak trips and camps are offered. In addition to these guided tours, families can rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to embark on their own adventure.
205 North Street, Pescadero
Harley Farms, known for their award-winning goat cheese, offers family-friendly tours with a “behind the scenes” look at the inner workings of this nine-acre goat dairy farm. On the two-hour tour, families meet the friendly goats, milk a goat, learn how goat cheese is made and enjoy a cheese tasting upstairs in the refurbished hayloft. Tours are held on Saturdays and Sundays and are available by reservation only. Tours are $20 per adult; $10 for children ages 6-12; and free for kids ages five and under.
12320 San Mateo Road (Hwy 92)
There is no end to the fun Lemos Farms provides for families with young kids. Children will enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, train rides on the John Deer Engine Choo-choo Train, laser tag, operating the Dig Zone Tracker – a real hydraulic back hoe – and playing in the OK Play Corral. Lemos Farms is regularly open Saturday on Sunday year round and daily from September 22 through Halloween.
Open Ocean Surf Lessons & Surf Camps
Kids and adults alike will have a blast learning how to surf. With lessons for beginners through advanced, from sunrise to sunset Open Ocean Surfing offers private lessons that cover everything from ocean safety to proper surfing techniques and etiquette for every skill level. Kids can learn to surf and experience the exhilaration of surfing in a safe and fun environment while learning about ocean safety and surfing etiquette. Surf Camps are also available for those who want to experience the exhilaration of surfing in a safe and fun environment while learning a lot about the sport. Camps run Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All participants must wear a wetsuit and be able to swim. Surfboards will be supplied by the instructor. Parents are always welcome and can relax on the beach with some binoculars and a camera, take a hike
on a beachfront trail or try surfing themselves!
Oceanfront Segway Tours
One Miramontes Point Road
For those parents looking for ways to keep teenagers entertained, The Ritz-Carlton offers training on Segway® Personal Transporters so families can cruise around Half Moon Bay in a fun and futuristic fashion. Segways are a great way to explore and enjoy the spectacular views of The Ritz-Carlton’s coastside setting as well as beautiful Half Moon Bay. Priced at $75 per person, the package includes equipment, a helmet, 30 minutes of instruction and an hour of riding. Tours are available on Fridays- Sundays and reservations may be made by calling (650) 712-7863. Participants must be 16 years of age or older, and equipment speeds are limited to 12.5 miles per hour.
Pillar Point Harbor & Cool Harbor Nights
1 Johnson Pier
Bring the family to enjoy fishing, fresh seafood, shopping or a walk around to observe the fishermen at work. For a free family-friendly activity that will bring everyone back to an earlier era of car technology and aesthetics, check out Pillar Point Harbor the first Thursday of every month, for Cool Harbor Nights, a coastal car and motorcycle show. Owners of classic cars, trucks, fancy motorcycles and hot rods have the opportunity to show off their pride and joy while providing a glimpse of early automotive and motorcycle technology. Many of the machines have taken years to create or restore. Families will enjoy a cruise down memory lane as they show their kids the vintage Mustang or hot muscle car just like they drove. The event is held the first Thursday of every month, 3 p.m. to sunset (starting at 4 p.m. during spring/summer months).
Sea Horse Ranch/Friendly Acres
1828 North Cabrillo Highway
(650) 726-9903 (live person)
(650) 726-2362 (info. recording)
Sea Horse Ranch and Friendly Acres Horse Ranch have been in business over 40 years, giving wonderful horseback riding adventures on the beautiful beaches of Half Moon Bay. Offering rides for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders, families can experience a riding adventure over seven miles of trail, through a small creek and along the bluffs of Sunset Beach down to the sandy seashore. Kids start riding on their own horses from ages five and up. For kids 5 years old & under, Friendly Acres Ranch offers pony rides. Individuals or groups up to nine people can come in anytime without reservations and always find a horse available. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more.
Whale Watching & Fishing
Families will have a whale watching experience of a lifetime on one of the various excursions offered in Half Moon Bay. Gray whales move at a steady speed of about five miles per hour, and most can be spotted in an area that extends from the kelp beds (about 3/4 miles from the shoreline) out to the horizon. In addition to gray whales, families will most likely also see off – shore pelagic seabirds, Humpback whales, sea otters, elephant seals, California sea lions, Harbor porpoise, Dall’s porpoise and occasionally leatherback sea turtles or sharks. Fishing is a great alternative for families looking for more than just sightseeing. Head to Pillar Point Harbor to watch fishermen offload the day’s catch. For the ultimate experience, charter a boat or contact one of the many companies offering sport fishing expeditions. Huck Finn, Huli Cat, and Riptide will not only clean your catch for you, but also direct you to restaurants that will happily cook it up just the way you like it.
Several local companies offer whale watching and fishing excursions:
•Huck Finn Sportfishing, (650) 726-7133, www.huckfinnsportfishing.com
•Huli Cat Sportfishing, (650) 726-2926, www.hulicat.com
•Riptide Sportfishing, (888) 747-8433, www.riptide.net
•Half Moon Bay Sportfishing & Tackle, (650) 726-2913, www.hmbfishing.com
Information thanks to Half Moon Bay Business Improvement District