Finest issues to do on a weekend journey to Half Moon Bay

A number of weeks in the past, I stood by my spouse on the fringe of a golf course in a bone-chilling wind, ready for a bagpiper to seem as waves crashed on rocks under. All we lacked was a wee dram of single-malt whisky.

No, we weren’t in Scotland. We had been visiting Half Moon Bay, about 380 miles north of Los Angeles, simply 30 miles south of San Francisco.

The city feels a lot faraway from each large cities, due to the inexperienced, rugged hills simply inland and downtown’s modest scale and measured tempo. Regardless of rising numbers of weekend guests and distant staff from San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Half Moon Bay is a neighborhood with agricultural roots, a feed retailer on Primary Avenue and a inhabitants that has remained at round 11,000 for the final 20 years.

Oh, and there’s the Ritz-Carlton, about 3 miles south of city, the place a bagpiper is booked to play each sundown.

In different phrases, when you’re visiting, you’ll encounter a coast that looks like Scotland (particularly in February) and a city paying homage to Mayberry, the idyllic neighborhood with one site visitors mild from “The Andy Griffith Present.” After all, no place is de facto that straightforward, however when you’re in search of a number of days’ escape between L.A. and S.F., heading right here is an efficient begin.

When you don’t start on the water’s edge, you’ll most likely head straight for Primary Avenue, which we did the subsequent morning. There, inside 100 steps of Half Moon Bay Feed & Gasoline (based in 1911), you’ll discover a few artwork galleries, a gourmand olive oil retailer, the Barterra Vineyard tasting room and the beloved Backyard Deli Cafe, the place locals line up earlier than the ten a.m. opening time to get contemporary bread and sandwiches.

A block farther south, in Mac Dutra Park at Primary and Kelly Avenue, we discovered an amazing heap of flowers, together with condolence notes in English, Chinese language and Spanish — the aftermath of the worst crime Half Moon Bay has suffered in years.

In late January, a farmworker — apparently offended over being bullied and billed $100 for damaging a fork raise — allegedly shot and killed seven individuals at two mushroom farms. He later pleaded not responsible and a trial is pending. The deaths prompted intense dialogue in regards to the proliferation of mass shootings all through the U.S. and the hardships confronted by agricultural staff in a neighborhood the place two-bedroom residences hire for $3,000 and the median dwelling worth has risen to $1.26 million.

After the deaths, investigators discovered that California Terra Backyard, one of many taking pictures areas, had housed about 27 staff and members of the family in grim, unpermitted situations. California Terra Backyard has vowed to construct new housing with correct permits, however substandard farmworker housing stays a statewide drawback, now worsened by the winter’s flooding.

We spent a quiet second within the park with the flowers and notes.

Later, we joined the numerous walkers on the 7.5-mile Half Moon Bay Coastside Path, watching surfers work waves and occupied with the West Coast’s most well-known big-wave surf break, Mavericks, an offshore phenomenon close to Pillar Level that will depend on fluctuating tidal situations and is invisible from the coast freeway.

Simply attending to Mavericks Seashore is hard (learn on for extra about that), however when situations are proper, surfers paddle half a mile past that seashore to catch waves that may attain 60 ft in peak. As nearly everybody who paddles out can let you know, a kind of waves killed celebrated surfer Mark Foo in 1994, and the break’s menacing energy has impressed documentaries, together with Stacy Peralta’s “Using Giants,” and books akin to Mark Kreidler’s “The Voodoo Wave.”

Even when you by no means get your ft moist, it’s mesmerizing to face by the jetty simply south of Pillar Level Harbor and watch the swells at Surfers Seashore surge, crest and crash.

After that, load up on seafood at Sam’s Chowder Home, which has a eating room and massive deck overlooking the waves. Your dietitian may not advocate the prawns filled with crab and wrapped in bacon at Sam’s, however I do. It’s a taste riot of the best variety.

Tourism heats up right here in spring and summer season, and site visitors can get robust on weekends. That’s additionally true in fall, when Half Moon Bay’s Artwork & Pumpkin Pageant culminates with a pumpkin weigh-off.

Since our go to, storms have felled timber and precipitated different harm within the space, briefly closing California 92, maybe the busiest route into and out of city. That route is open once more. However in weeks to return, it is smart to examine the Caltrans web site for freeway situations earlier than driving anyplace in Santa Cruz or San Mateo counties.

Half Moon Bay could also be a small city, and a gradual one (in the absolute best sense). Nevertheless it additionally punches above its weight — there’s extra to discover (and eat) than in most locations this measurement. In actual fact, we’ve been noodling round itinerary concepts for the subsequent journey. Sunday afternoon jazz on the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society? A pint at Cameron’s Pub? We’ll be again earlier than lengthy.

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