Half Moon Bay

Swimsuit? Check. Surfboard? Check. Hiking boots? Check check. Perched above rust-colored sea cliffs on California’s coastline, this little city’s crescent-shaped beach is a weekender’s wonderland.

Get a healthy dose of Cali chill in Half Moon Bay, a cozy city south of San Francisco. Half Moon Bay is at the top of many San Francisco natives’ weekend lists, and for good reason. When it comes to backyards, Half Moon Bay comes up trumps. Think knotty bluffs that crest over the Pacific Ocean, sheltering a string of wild beaches. Seriously, this is what vacation dreams are made of. Find out where Half Moon Bay got its legendary rep for big-wave surfing or get away from it all on the city’s hinterland hiking trails.

First things first: the beach. Half Moon Bay State Beach is the city’s premier stretch of sand and surf. Stop by the visitor center on weekends to find out what’s on or go your own way to find the perfect spot to picnic, swim or cast a fishing line.

Hit up Pillar Point Harbor to book your spot on a boat trip along the coast. Catch your own salmon on a fishing charter or grab a table at one of the harbor’s waterfront restaurants to let someone else do all the hard work. Fresh-caught seafood is Half Moon Bay’s specialty. Pair your meal with a local drop from the city’s own Barterra Winery and you’ve got yourself a match.

Nearby Mavericks Beach belts out some of the biggest barrels in the county. Unless you’re a seasoned pro, leave the board at home – Mavericks’ surf contests are invite only. See if you can spy the tiny surfers on the waves from the bluffs without getting distracted by the jaw-dropping views. Itchy feet? No problem. Get trekking on the Half Moon Bay Coastalside Trail to weave through the protected Wavecrest Open Space or climb the rugged peak of Montara Mountain.