With miles of sandy beaches, towering sequoia forests, charming boutiques and restaurants and an eclectic lineup of accommodations, Half Moon Bay offers a scenic and laid-back setting for meetings and conventions. And while the charming coastal town is an ideal place to unplug and relax, there’s still a bounty of activities and attractions that take advantage of the beautiful, natural setting.
Of course, the ocean is one of the area’s top destinations, and Half Moon Bay State Park has many beaches to explore. On the south end of the park is Francis Beach, home to the Half Moon Bay State Beach Visitor Center and a popular spot for picnics and fishing. Directly to the north is the less populated Venice Beach, where several creeks create shallow lagoons, perfect for exploring and cooling off. The neighboring Dunes Beach provides an easy access point to the California Coastal Trail, where you can go biking. And Roosevelt Beach, the northernmost beach in the park, is also the beach that gets less traffic, which makes it ideal for those looking for private stretches of sand and unobstructed ocean views.
While the ocean may be a little cold for swimming—unless you bring your wetsuit—you can enjoy a water adventure via boat. One recommended option is Half Moon Bay Kayak Co., which offers both rentals and guided tours. One of the more popular kayaking excursions is the harbor tour, which goes to Pillar Point, a scenic peninsula with steep cliffs that are marked by a towering orb-shaped Air Force radar station. Next to Pillar point is Mavericks Beach, a popular surf spot where you’re likely to see sea birds and harbor seals.
For an authentic Half Moon Bay experience, visit Sea Horse Ranch and take a guided horseback ride along the Coastal Equestrian Trail. The two-hour trip goes along scenic ocean bluffs, shady forests, terrace prairies, a couple of steep hills and finally onto beautiful Poplar Beach. It’s an experience that’s both relaxing and exhilarating as you guide a powerful yet responsive horse along the trail, taking in the varied scenery and wildlife.
Two Half Moon Bay golf courses that take full advantage of the coastal location. Designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer, The Old Course winds through cypress trees and ponds before leading to the waterfront 18th hole. For sweeping water views, Ocean Course is a spectacular setting that rivals nearly any course on the West Coast.
Where to Stay
Half Moon Bay offers a variety of accommodations and meeting spaces that can accommodate any budget.
The most luxurious option is The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. The 261-room resort boasts a spa, fitness center, several award-winning restaurants and an unbeatable oceanfront location. Last year, the resort unveiled two new meeting spaces—Pescadero and Moss Beach—in addition to the renovation of its existing event facilities. The combined expansion and renovation bring the total meeting spaces to 35,000 square feet, including some 20 indoor and outdoor venues. Guests can also take advantage of on-site tennis courts, a basketball court, and a coastal jogging and biking path.
The boutique Beach House has 54 junior suites, many of which look out onto the ocean and the Santa Cruz Mountains, with either a patio or balcony. Situated next to Pillar Point Harbor, Beach House has state-of-the-art wireless technology and meeting spaces that feature abundant natural light and a cozy fireplace. Highlights include the Ocean Terrace Room and the adjacent Terrace Patio. The 1,800 square feet of function space can accommodate 10 to 50 guests.
For budget-friendly accommodations, Half Moon Bay Lodge has 80 guest rooms and suites, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and outdoor fireplace. The hotel has six different meeting spaces, including the 900-square-foot Club Room, which features an outside terrace. There’s also the Fairway Room, a 450-square-foot venue with views of the neighboring golf course.
Meeting planners interested in Half Moon Bay need to submit one RFP, which will go to all area hotels.
Not to Miss
Visit Sam’s Chowder House, one of the area’s most popular restaurants—lines for dinner and lunch often snake out the door. With a spacious outdoor patio overlooking the ocean, the family-owned and-operated restaurant is noted for its fresh seafood, particularly crab, fried calamari, fresh oysters and clams, award-winning lobster rolls and, of course, the chowder.
For shopping, Half Moon Bay’s charming and walkable downtown has dozens of retail shops, restaurants and galleries. The family-owned Feed and Fuel, which was founded in 1911, is the region’s largest and oldest feed and tack store and a popular gathering place. Another local favorite is Oddyssea, a hands-on retail store and an outdoor garden with a variety of science, nature, and art products and experiences.