Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not Just Pumpkins in Half Moon Bay

After the summer sojourners leave and the pumpkin hunters have celebrated Halloween, Half Moon Bay is my choice for a mellow weekend escape. Days might be shorter and cooler, but the miles of white sand beaches and dunes, redwood hikes, huge waves, wildlife, hotel deals and great food add up to the perfect recipe late fall/early winter trip. Here you'll find a recreation center that throws Halloween parties for kids, families fly kites on the beach, people lining up at teh bakery when the pumpkin bread comes out of the oven because it smells so good, and all independently owned shops lining Main St. It's a good ole town, right in the heart of the Bay Area.

My favorite places to stay include the Pigeon Point Lighthouse (http://www.norcalhostels.org/pigeon), which is super cheap and on the ocean; the Beach House (http://www.beach-house.com)--the oceanfront location begs for romance; the Half Moon Bay Inn (http://www.halfmoonbayinn.com/), which feels like a hip hotel in Spain or Mexico; or Costanoa (costanoa.com) for luxury canvas tent camping with heated beds and floors. All of these spots offer deals--especially midweek--in late fall and winter.

If i were to plan to perfect day in Half Moon Bay, I would start with coffee and pumpkin bread at the Half Moon Bay Bakery (Main St). Then head over to the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve (at low tide) to play in the tidepools and see the starfish and seals. Next, drive down to Ano Nuevo State reserve (if it is winter make a reservation first) to see the elephant seals mate (it's pretty gnarly--lots of noise and fighting and machismo--at least it makes bar hopping look tame). Afterwards, head to Duarte's (duartestavern.com) for artichoke and chili soup. If you still have energy, you don't want to miss an easy stroll through the Purisma Creek redwoods (openspace.org) just above Half Moon Bay. And top your day off with dinner at Cetrella (cetrella.com).

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