Half Moon Bay Travel Guide


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Poplar Beach and Bluff Top Coast Trail

Operated by the City of Half Moon Bay, it’s picturesque setting is ideal for sunbathing, fishing and picnicking on the beach. Also, along the bluff top, you can take in the sweeping ocean views from a number of park benches that line the Bluff Top Trail. The Bluff Top Trail connects to the Coastside Trail that runs along the eastern boundary of Half Moon State Beach (Francis Beach, Venice Beach, Dunes Beach) providing over a three mile stretch to walk, jog or ride bikes. The trail continues north to Pillar Point Harbor. A horse trail parallels the Bluff Top/Coastside Trail from Roosevelt Beach. While in the state parks, horses are restricted to the designated horse trail and are not permitted on State Beaches. On Poplar Beach, however, horses are allowed — making it a wonderful, experience for both tourists renting a horse with a guide and seasoned equestrians. The green space between the Bluff Top Park and Half Moon Bay State Beach is ideal for bird watching. Large hawks often sit on the split rail fence and park benches — sometimes allowing visitors to come within 6 feet of them.


Half Moon Bay’s Bluff Top Park/Poplar Beach is located a half-mile west of Highway 1 at the end of Poplar Avenue off Highway 1.  It is just south of Half Moon Bay State Beach, and interconnects with the State Beaches through the Coastside Trail.

Designated parking areas for cars and horse trailers are available at the bluff top parking lot.

Hourly Rates:

– Vehicles less than 20 feet:  $2.00 per hour or $10.00 per day

– Horse trailers and Vehicles longer than 20 feet: $3.00 per hour or$15.00 per day

Permit:  A $50.00 yearly permit is available to all City of Half Moon Bay residents.  Click here for more parking information.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended Clothing

The major weather pattern for Half Moon Bay is fog in the summer, crisp, clear days in the fall and spring, and wet, windy winters.  Temperatures are moderate with the summer highs in the mid 60’s and winter lows in the mid 40’s. Summer fog is most common in the mornings and evenings.


Poplar Beach has several portable toilets that are located next to the parking lot.  Please note that Poplar Beach has no available camp sites, picnic tables, or running water.  (The Half Moon Bay State Beach just North of Poplar Beach is much more developed. )

The Bluff Top Trail connects to the Coastside Trail which runs along the eastern boundary of the Half Moon Bay State Beaches providing close to a three mile stretch to walk, jog or ride bikes. The trail continues north to Pillar Point Harbor.

A horse trail parallels the Bluff Top and Coastside Trails from Roosevelt Beach to Francis Beach. While in the state parks, horses are restricted to the designated horse trail and are not permitted on State Beaches.

Please, NO beach fires are allowed.

Dogs are prohibited on the beaches at all times.  Dogs are permitted in the campground, in the day-use picnic areas, and on the Coastal Trail, provided they are controlled with a leash of no more than six feet at all times. Where Can I Take My Dog.pdf

The Ocean

Always use caution when you are in or near the ocean. The ocean water is very cold year round. Even a short swim can cause cramps or hypothermia (a life threatening condition which occurs when your body temperature drops below normal). In addition, strong rip currents can pull even the most experienced swimmers off shore. Please refrain from removing shells, driftwood, and other natural beach features.  Fireworks are prohibited.



What’s on Tap


Half Moon Bay Festivals & Events:

Coastside Summer Camp Fair at New Leaf Community Market

A perfect opportunity for families to learn about different local summer camp options for children of all ages. 

The HEAL Project Presents 7th Annual Spring Ahead

March 29th, 2017— This fabulous strolling supper created by the finest chefs on the San Mateo County Coast.

Discover the Secrets of Pescadero Marsh with guided walks

Highway 1, 1/4 mile north of Pescadero Road.  Pescadero Marsh docents lead nature walks in the marsh twice a month: First Sunday of the month at 10 a.m., and Third Sunday of the month at 1 p.m.

4th Annual Coastal Wildflower Day

A day-long festival celebrating the return of spring wildflowers and the start of California Native Plant Week.

Pacific Coast Dream MachinesApril 30, 2017 – 10am to 4pm

Rare and custom cars, motorcycles, military aircraft, and tractors at Pacific Coast Dream Machines in Half Moon Bay, California.

For more event information, click on our Festivals & Events page for Half Moon Bay.



Top Attractions:

Christmas Tree Farm Locations

Getting Your Family’s Christmas Tree Can Become a Cherished Family Memory and the Beginning of a New Family Tradition!

Winter is a Great Time to Visit the Coast!

Monterey, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay and Mendocino—Early Fall is generally some of the best weather on the coast. Plan a visit with your family or an escape for a romantic weekend.

Whale WatchingWhale Watching December through May

Half Moon Bay 415 474-3385

Oceanic Society provides boat tours to view the gray whales as they swim north along the California coast on their way to summer feeding grounds.


For more information on local attractions, click on the Half Moon Bay Attractions or Recreational Activities.




The Region’s Fall Advisories:

Traffic Conditions. During the pumpkin season, traffic in to and out of Half Moon Bay can be extremely challenging—especially during the Art & Pumpkin Festival weekend. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and arrive early and leave late. Go to www.caltrans.com to learn more about road conditions.

Yes, it’s still water, water, water! California is undergoing an extreme drought. If you are planning a lake vacation be sure to check about water levels. That rafting trip, fishing, or skiing can be impacted.

EXTREME fire danger. The drought has created a very dangerous combination of dry vegetation and no moisture in the air to help contain any fire. Please use extreme caution during your trip.