A mere 30 minute drive from San Francisco’s International Airport (SFO–newly outfitted with its super stylin’ Terminal 2, which definitely takes some of the sting out of cross continental air travel), is the relaxed, northern California oasis of Half Moon Bay. Something akin to a Hampton for the San Francisco weekenders, Half Moon Bay offers an easy but complete escape from real life. Famous, in part, as a destination for the Mavericks surf competition, embracing its namesake geography, Half Moon bay perfectly blends the laid-back, friendly surfer swing with a sophisticated beach home aesthetic.
Nowhere is this more felt than at the Beach House at Half Moon Bay. Its name might dissuade you–seeming perhaps too obvious or simply not individual. However, the Beach House embraces its breathtaking location as completely as its name implies. Perhaps they were too busy gazing at the ever-changing Pacific tides that crash on the sand right at their doorstep to come up with a more original name? Who cares!? Certainly not I, since I, too, was dazzled by the ocean’s proximity–especially while soaking in a jacuzzi overlooking the beach on a slightly chilly evening.
More than just a stunning location, the Inn offers guests a truly stunning experience over all. Most of the rooms have balconies or terraces overlooking the beach, and a good number of them are outfitted with fireplaces (to take out the chill of the evening, this is still quite close to San Francisco!). Plush, stylish furniture cozies you into the room and makes you feel instantly at home, and a breakfast of fresh baked goods and delicious West Coast coffee welcome you into each day you spend at the Beach House.
Convenience to the ocean is one thing, but combine that with convenience to a local legend of a chowder house, and you might never want to leave. Within the stiff competition for the title of best California clam chowder, there are few names that come up again and again for locals and visitors alike. Sam’s Chowder House is one of those chosen few, and at a 3 minute walk from The Inn at Half Moon Bay– you can decide for yourself. On a blustery evening, sit at one of its window tables and imagine your on a ship far out into the sea as the sun sets magnificently. And then, let the feasting begin. If you are unfamiliar with the local style of seafood, you are in for a treat. Not only does the namesake chowder live up to the legend, but other area staples, including “crab louie” and the heavenly “cioppino” (a SF original take on boulliabase) will have you swooning.
If possible, leave some swooning room for dessert: not only does a transcendent home-made ice cream sandwich make sure-fire delight, but an unlikely surprise also awaits you. Only in California might someone come up with a concept like an olive oil sundae. As odd (and even perhaps repulsive) as it might sound, the heavenly homemade soft serve vanilla ice cream drizzled with highest caliber extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with a crackling hint of sea salt is the stuff of dreams. Believe me: dreams. Dreams only had while listening to the crash of the pacific outside your window, harmonized with the crackle of a fire that warms your toes as you drift into a blissful slumber at the Inn on Half Moon Bay.
We recommend you spend at least two nights, giving ample time to explore all the glories the area has to offer. If the weather gets overcast, simply wander into the heart of the quaint town for the afternoon, where you can seek out what is hailed as the Best Chai on Earth. If you’re feeling more adventurous, head out the national park–depending on the time of year, you could catch the Sea Lions and their puppies, or glimpse humpback whales on the near horizon. No matter where your day might take you, you will revel in the knowledge that the Beach House at Half Moon Bay awaits you, with its welcome cozy grace.
– Ava Fedorov
Photographs by Jeff Owens for Socially Superlative