Half Moon Bay Travel Guide

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Half Moon Bay Parks and Open Spaces

Half Moon Bay has miles of unspoiled State Parks and Open Spaces. From redwood preserves to marshes to sandy bluffs and dunes, Half Moon Bay has plenty of areas for day hikes, bike paths and open spaces to unplug and take-in the scenery.

Half Moon Bay State Parks, Beaches and Nature Preserves

Ano Nuevo State ReserveAño Nuevo State Reserve

New Year’s Creek Road, off Hwy 1 Pescadero, CA   650-879-0227

This 4,000 acre Reserve is a major gathering area for northern elephant seals, which may be seen year-around. The males battle for mates on the beaches. The females give birth to their young on the dunes.

Big Basin Redwoods State ParkRancho Del Oso  at Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Hwy 1   831-338-8860

One of our favorite short hikes around 1 ½ hours!

Located 25 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Hwy. 1, the park has miles of trails, which serves hikers and equestrians, links Big Basin to Castle Rock State Park and the eastern reaches of the Santa Cruz range.  Maps >>

Big Basin Redwoods State ParkBig Basin State Park

21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA   (831) 338-8860

The park has over 80 miles of trails. Be sure and pick up a map at park headquarters before your hike and take a look at the multimedia kiosk in the Sempervirens Room (next to park headquarters). There you will find great information, photos, and video of some of the most popular trails.

At the coast end of the park, is one of our favorite short hikes around 1 ½ hours!

Butano State Park — Campgrounds

1500 Cloverdale Rd., Pescadero, CA  (650) 879-2040

A 2,200-acre redwood park in the Half Moon Bay Mountains, featuring excellent hiking through the redwood groves. Only three miles from the Pacific coast, the park’s trails offer views of the Pacific Ocean and the Año Nuevo islands.

Directions: The park is on the San Mateo Coast, off Highway One. Three miles northeast of the Gazos Creek Coastal Access Point by way of Gazos Creek Road, and about 4.5 miles southeast of Pescadero by way of the Pescadero and Cloverdale Roads.

Coastside Trail -- Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail — Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay State Beach 95 Kelly Avenue, Half Moon Bay, CA  (650) 726-8819

The Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail runs along the eastern boundary of the four Half Moon Bay area beaches providing close to three miles of multi-use trails to walk, jog or ride bikes. The trail continues north to Pillar Point Harbor.

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss BeachFitzgerald Marine Reserve in Moss Beach

PO BOX 451, Moss Beach, CA  (650) 728-3584   Reservation line (650) 363-4021

The Reserve is set aside to protect this complex but fragile community for us and future generations. Within the reserve, most marine life is protected. The Reserve is popular with school and community groups for its educational value.

Directions: Take California Ave. off of Hwy 1 in Moss Beach.

Friends of Fitzgerald Marine ReserveFriends of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

A Web site dedicated to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve–focusing on the plants and animals adapted to live at the edge of the ocean.

Heritage Grove Redwood Preserve ─ San Mateo County Park

Alpine Road, Pescadero, CA  (650) 363-4021

A magnificent old-growth Redwood forest on Alpine Creek, adjacent to Pescadero Creek Park provides a network of trails through the towering giants.

Memorial Park  ─ San Mateo County Park

9500 Pescadero Rd., Pescadero, CA  (650) 363-4021

The park is made up of 499 acres and provides an opportunity to view old-growth redwoods. It has a picnic area, visitor center, camp store, a creek swimming area, and campfire programs.

The park is known for its family camping and the Tan Oak and Mt. Ellen Nature Trails.

Montara Mountain and McNee Ranch State Park

Hwy 1, across from Montara State Beach.

Located on the west face of Montara Mountain, the McNee Ranch is a 625-acre State Park with sweeping vistas of the Pacific Coast, San Francisco Bay, and the rugged coastal hills. Montara State Beach and Gray Whale Cove beach are within walking distance of the State Park.

Poplar Beach and Bluff Top Coast Trail

152 Poplar St, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

The beach is operated by the city of Half Moon Bay. It  is located west of Hwy 1 at the end of Poplar Street.

Pescadero Creek County Park  ─ San Mateo County Park

Pescadero, CA  (650) 363-4021

The park has 8,020 acres and is comprised of San McDonald, Memorial, and Heritage Grove parks.

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve

Highway 1 & Pescadero Rd., Pescadero, CA  650-879-2170

Across the highway form the Pescadero State Beach is the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, a popular spot for bird watchers and other naturalists. The Reserve is a refuge for blue heron, kites, deer, raccoons, foxes and skunks.

Directions:  The beach is located 14.5 miles south of Half Moon Bay on Highway One.

Pillar Point MarshPillar Point Marsh

Directions: off of Hwy 1, take Capistrano Rd. to Pillar Point Harbor. Travel past the harbor entrance and turn left on Prospect Way. Turn right on Broadway and then turn left on Harvard. Travel to the end of Harvard and then turn right on West Point Ave. until you reach the Pillar Point Marsh parking lot (.05 mile).

Portola Redwoods State ParkPortola Redwoods State Park

650-948-9098

The park has a rugged, natural basin forested with coast redwoods, Douglas fir and live oak. Eighteen miles of trails crisscross the canyon and its two streams, Peters Creek and Pescadero Creek.

Purissima Creek Redwoods Open Space PreservePurissima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

Half Moon Bay, CA  (650) 949-5500

The 3,120-acre preserve is located on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking Half Moon Bay. The preserve was established with a gift of $2 million from the Save-the-Redwoods League.

The centerpiece of the Preserve is Purissima Creek Canyon, with its towering redwoods, creek, ferns, berries, and wildflowers. Coastal scrub, tanoak, madrone, and Douglas fir border the canyon. The coast and Half Moon Bay are visible from the northern part of the preserve.

 

What’s on Tap

Events

Half Moon Bay Fall Festivals & Events:

Welcome Back Monarchs Day – Oct. 8, 2017 11am – 4pm.

Natural Bridges SB in Santa Cruz welcomes the monarchs back.

The Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off—Oct. 9, 2017

The gathering of titanic pumpkins try to capture the coveted title and share of $30,000 in prize money.

Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin FestivalOct. 14 & 15, 2017

Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA

Half Moon Bay heralds in All Hallows Eve with rustic pumpkin patches, harvest-inspired arts and crafts, entertainment, contests, and activities. Admission is free. 

Pumpkin Patches Along the California Coast  – Sept. and Oct. 2017

Half Moon Bay, CA – The coast transforms into a spooky, magical land of orange gourds. Create some great family memories by visiting a local pumpkin farm…

MORE Half Moon Bay Halloween Celebrations  – October

Half Moon Bay heralds in All Hallows Eve with Halloween inspired festivals and events….

 

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

Attractions

Top Fall Attractions:

Pumpkin Patches Along the California Coast  – October

The coast transforms to a spooky, magical land of orange gourds. Create some great family memories by visiting a local pumpkin farm…

Fall 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 Watching – Whale 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.
  
  

 

Advisories

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 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.