Welcome to Half Moon Bay, Moss Beach, El Granada, and Princeton
The best of NorCal can be found on this exclusive stretch of California coastline
The white-capped waves of the Pacific Ocean lap against the sands and scenic bluffs of Half Moon Bay, a small coastal city nestled along the western shores of the San Francisco Peninsula. Relatively small towns populate this swath of land, and Half Moon Bay is no different. With around 13,000 residents, the city is a charismatic escape from urban bustle and offers residents a chance to enjoy the Peninsula’s natural splendors.
Half Moon Bay boasts a historic district with buildings dating back as far as 1869, and the town’s rich sense of history contributes to its charm. Slow-growing until it saw a blossoming of subdivisions post-WWII, this crescent-shaped beach town is now best known for its surfing and serene lifestyle.
Properties in Half Moon Bay can include everything from mid-century, single-family homes in the heart of Historic Downtown to elevated hillside homes built in contemporary coastal styles. The city has recently seen a growth in residential development, and the increased availability of enviable plots means that buyers can create their own custom dream homes.
Just north of Half Moon Bay, the village of El Granada – and the nearby areas of Moss Beach and Montara – have reputations as idyllic, low-key surfer towns. The curved shores of Maverick Beach supply epic waves and the slopes of Montara Mountain set a stunning backdrop. Available homes in El Grenada range from 19th-century weekend cottages to sprawling hillside estates with 360-degree views and remarkable amenities.
What to Love
- Half Moon Bay State Beach, ranked among the state’s most beautiful
- Ideal location close to San Francisco, Santa Cruz wine country, and Silicon Valley
- Coastal hiking and horseback riding with astonishing views
- Watersports year-round and surfing the famed Mavericks Beach
- Dog-friendly Montara State Beach, which is also another great surf spot
While many might head to Half Moon Bay for its renowned beach, seasoned travelers and locals know that the town is far more multifaceted than one might first imagine. Strolling along the immaculate streets of Historic Downtown provides a view of varied and well-preserved architecture, and the district comes to life with a regular lineup of local events throughout the year. Whether it’s the non-stop holiday celebrations or listening to live performances in intimate venues, every resident of Half Moon Bay can easily find something to love.
Dining, Entertainment & Shopping
Main Street is the place to be in Half Moon Bay, thanks to its plethora of boutiques and must-try restaurants. Pasta Moon, for instance, is a pasta lover’s paradise, serving rich and decadent Italian dishes crafted from only the finest locally sourced ingredients.
Sam’s Chowder House will transport diners to Coastal New England with its interior ambiance, but it keeps palettes firmly planted in California with a menu of seasonal, sustainably sourced local seafood. The restaurant is particularly well-known for its signature lobster roll, which has been lauded as one of the best in the country.
The Miramar Beach Restaurant is another one pitched to seafood aficionados, with seating that includes panoramic ocean views. Miramar serves a variety of American cuisine, like the herbed lamb chops or sizzling, pan-fried calamari steaks. The Ritz-Carlton is a 5-star resort perched high atop dramatic coastal bluffs that also offers top-tier dining. In addition to a world-class spa and numerous amenities, The Ritz-Carlton is home to The Navio, a restaurant whose position makes it look like diners are enjoying their ocean-to-table fare on the edge of the world.
El Granada also offers an exciting array of different cuisines and atmospheres. Authentic, contemporary Peruvian cuisine is the star of the show at La Costanera, an impressive, upscale restaurant that has panoramic ocean views and a delicious standout ceviche. At the Moss Beach Distillery, the award-winning food pairs perfectly with the romantic setting, with outdoor fire pits and sweeping ocean views.
Things to Do
Immersing yourself in the natural landscape of Half Moon Bay is a must for any visitor, and luckily the town is packed with multiple ways to do so. Half Moon Bay has two championship golf courses: The Old Course – originally designed by Arnold Palmer – and The Ocean Course.
Socializing is a breeze in Half Moon Bay despite the town’s small size. Every year in October, Half Moon Bay hosts an Art & Pumpkin Festival that includes a pumpkin-weighing contest with prizes for the winners. As the burgeoning craft-drink scene grows in Half Moon Bay, venues like the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company are providing cozy perches where patrons can hang out with friends and sip local brews.
Outdoor adventures are also abundant in El Granada. Paddleboard or kayak within the harbor in Princeton, where the waters are calm and the passing boats are always friendly. Meanwhile, Moss Beach is full of hidden treasures, including the alluring Cypress Grove trail known as The Tunnel of Trees by locals. Dog owners will fall in love with morning strolls along Montara State Beach, a pet-friendly, golden stretch of sand.
Half Moon Bay and its surrounding villages are home to a number of excellent schools. Top educational opportunities include:
- Sea Crest School, PK & K-8, highly rated private elementary school
- Half Moon Bay High School, 9-12, highly rated public high school
- Wilkinson School & Early Childhood Center, PK & K-8, highly respected private elementary school
- El Granada Elementary School, K-5, well-rated public elementary school