Dog-friendly Half Moon Bay, at the heart of the region locals call “Coastside,” is part resort, part classic California surf town.
Beaches and bluffs are what it’s all about for visitors with dogs, and while off-leash opportunities are few, there are many ways to engage with the scenery.
In fact, it’s hard to know what to do first: explore the pristine beaches, scarf up some succulent seafood, ogle the surfers or window shop in the boutique-rich downtown.
If your primary desire is to get some sand between Fido’s toes, pay a visit to Montara State Beach, eight miles north of town, or Bean Hollow State Beach, 18 miles south. The former is long, soft and sandy, while the latter includes two sheltered coves separated by a rocky point, plus a mile-long nature trail leading to Pebble Beach, where the shoreline is composed of colorful, water-tossed pebbles.
McNee Ranch State Park, part of the Montara beach complex, is another great fresh-air destination. It’s laced with wide-open fire roads shared by hikers, cyclists and equestrians.
Visit on a day without fog to hike to the 1,898-foot summit of North Peak and fill your eyes with stunning views.
Back in town, pause to watch the action at Surfers Beach on Highway 1, just south of Pillar Point Harbor. From here you can access the Coastside Trail, which stretches along three miles of coastline and links four beaches.
Only Blufftop Beach, at the base of a long wall of cliffs, is dog-friendly. Access is steep, but once at the bottom, the two of you will feel like intrepid explorers.
Need to let Fido run? Coastside Dog Park is small but adequate and a good place to get insider tips from locals.
Half Moon Bay boasts many dog-friendly hotels with character and charm, as well as a smattering of economical, dog-friendly motels.
Half Moon Bay Inn, a boutique property in the heart of downtown, has dog-friendly rooms and an excellent restaurant, It’s Italia, where you and your furry buddy can cozy up to a fireplace on a terra cotta patio.
San Benito House, also downtown, is a historic property with a highly regarded in-house deli.
The Inn at Mavericks, a few minutes north, is another good choice; it sits on a bluff overlooking Pillar Point Harbor, within walking distance of the Coastside Trail.