Written by Anna Medina

Half Moon Bay State Beach (photo by lily_leivers)

The city of Half Moon Bay is hardly undiscovered country. That evocative name. The big-wave surfing at Maverick’s. The dramatic setting scrunched between the moody Pacific and the hills of the mid-Peninsula. It all means that the roads in and out are slammed on weekend afternoons. But for a quick getaway within the Bay Area, we’ll argue that HMB is hard to beat and we have the itinerary to prove it. And remember, the earlier you get there the happier you’ll be (traffic kicks up around 11 a.m. on weekends).

Nurseries and farms

Half Moon Bay Nursery (photo by native_poppy)

Assuming you’re coming over the hills on Route 92 you’ll first catch sight of HMB’s nurseries, farms and fruit stands. It’s early in the day and you’re not in a rush, so stop at one or all of them. Like flowers? All that coastal fog and moderate weather makes ’em happy. Drop in at Half Moon Bay Nursery and inhale. Other spots along the stretch of road specialize in carnivorous plants, succulents, even Christmas trees.

Traveling with kids? Then you’ll probably notice the dinosaur sculptures made of metal. They’re random and rusted and perfect for photos. Just up the road (and equally hard to miss) Lemos Farm is a little slice of kid paradise, complete with train and pony rides, a petting zoo and (why not?) laser tag.

Pumpkin bread and picnics

Two half moons at San Benito Deli (photo by saketh_karpe)

Even if you had breakfast before hitting the road, do the pastry-pit-stop at Half Moon Bay Bakery, widely known for its pumpkin bread, though you’re fine sampling other goodies. It’s been around for over a century, which is really a millennium in California years.

With your coffee/pastry in hand, take a stroll down Main Street and stop by the Ken Paul Lozada Sculpture Garden (274 Main St.). Local artist Lozada made these pieces to express a deeper appreciation for the gift of life after surviving a near-death car crash. Lozada can sometimes be spotted tending the garden.

Picnics on the beach (photo by miss__brady)

No trip to Half Moon Bay is complete without a long walk by the beach. Plan ahead and make it a picnic plus a long walk. Stop by San Benito House Deli (365 Main St.), which uses homemade bread for its sandwiches. Then head to the Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail, which offers scenic views of the ocean in all its glory. The 2-mile trail’s southern terminus is at Half Moon Bay State Beach (95 Kelly Ave.), which is convenient to downtown but mobbed on weekends. Consider heading north of town and parking along the road with the surfers on the PCH just north of Coronado Street and walking south on the sidewalk to the trailhead (right across the highway, use the crosswalk).

Booze and Blue Blanket

La Nebbia Winery (photo by mchunhoon)

Back on 92 La Nebbia Winery is a solid stopover and occasionally features “barrel to bottle” events, during which you can bring your empties and bottle, cork and label your own wine at a discounted price. A bocce court for guest use is delightfully unexpected. Other winery options include Trojak-Knier Winery and Barterra Winery. The Half Moon Bay Distillery, which makes vodka and gin, has a free 45-minute tour; book online here.

If you’re staying for dinner and feeling a little fancy, look no further than Pasta Moon. Afterwards, check out Blue Blanket’s Improv Shows or support local theater and catch a show at the Coastal Repertory Theater.

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