By Old World standards, Half Moon Bay is young. But in California history, the town dates back to the Spanish land grants issued in 1841 - and before that, the native Ohlone populated the area since around 320 AD. Half Moon Bay, called "Spanishtown" by the Anglo settlers who came with the great California Gold Rush of 1849, is blessed to have so many 19th century buildings around and near historic downtown Main Street.
Half Moon Bay is most famous for its two big gatherings - The Annual Art & Pumpkin Festival in October - and the Mavericks Invitational Festival which is held in the winter in conjunction with the big wave surf competition (dates vary because wave conditions vary).
It was Mark Twain who reportedly quipped, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." While he didn’t actually say it - aiming his barb instead at an unseasonably cold summer he spent in Paris, France, it is common knowledge that visitors to San Francisco in the summer often have to buy cheap fleece jackets in the souvenir shops because of the fog and decidedly unsummer-like chill in the air.
It’s the real deal. It’s home to sea-wizened commercial fishermen (and women) and their fleets, people who live aboard ancient boats that have been berthed here for years, aggressive sea lions that compete for the day’s catch, and local hangouts for coffee and beer pre- and post-fishing.