Few destinations in California conjure as many happy memories for me as Half Moon Bay. We visited on a house hunting trip when we first decided to move to San Francisco, and came here to celebrate when we first bought our car. (Highway 1 is made for convertibles and the drive from SF is such a pretty stretch of coastline!) Just 40 minutes south of the city, Half Moon Bay – and the Ritz Carlton’s spectacular oceanfront property – seem a world away.
We’ve visited the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay countless times to enjoy lunch or a drink around their fire pits, but this was our first time spending the night. We were thrilled and so grateful when their team invited us out for the weekend, so we could share a place we love so much with all of you. When we arrived on Friday night we were greeted with the prettiest spread of fruit, cheese, and desserts in our room, which overlooked the 18th hole on their American style course designed by Arnold Palmer and the Pacific. Evenings by the fire-pits are our favorite activity on property and the public is welcome to enjoy them even if you’re not staying at the hotel. The s’mores kits are beautifully packaged with the yummiest Guittard chocolate (made in San Francisco!) and were a festive start to the weekend.
Saturday morning we hopped in the car and drove back up the coast a bit to the charming seaside town of Princeton-by-the-sea, putting our names down for a table at Ketch Joanne before heading over to the docks to see what the fishermen caught that day. Every Saturday morning, you can buy fresh fish straight of the boats and chat with the men that caught them. It’s such a fun, local experience and even though we didn’t take any fish home this time, the fishermen were really kind and generous explaining things to us. If you’re looking for something in particular you can download the marina’s app, FishLine, to see what’s on offer each weekend. It’s such a fun day trip from SF to drive down, eat brunch at Ketch Joanne, then bring home a whole fish to grill that night!
While Sam’s Chowder House is better known due to it’s location between the highway and the sea, Ketch Joanne is my personal favorite. Covered in vintage nautical photographs and paintings this oak paneled diner reminds me of Black Eyed Susan’s on Nantucket. Simple and delicious!
Back at our hotel, we lucked out with a break in the mist and temperatures warm enough to head to the beach. The marine layer is often thick each morning but burns off for a couple hours in the afternoon. The sand is so incredibly soft and I love the way the cliffs drop into the ocean, with the Ritz presiding over it all. It’s a public beach but never gets too busy so there’s always room to put down a towel.
We spent the most time hanging out on the Ocean Lawn. On Saturday night we snagged two of the best Adirondack chairs and hung out during cocktail hour chatting and enjoying snacks until the bagpiper came into view. The Ritz Carlton has two beautiful golf courses, one American Style “Old Course” and another Scottish Links style “Ocean Course”. They pay tribute to the sport’s Scottish roots with a sunset bagpiper several nights a week and it is one of my favorite events to bring out-of-town guests to experience. Since the weather can be unpredictable, I packed a mix of sweaters, pants, shorts and dresses for the trip (packing post here) and optimistically wore this eyelet dress for sunset drinks, quickly returning to my room to fetch the wool blanket from my luggage to wrap up in. (We always keep this blanket in our car for road trips and we reach for it all the time!)
Dinner at The Conservatory completely exceeded my expectations. We ordered a bunch of starters (burrata flatbread, spring asparagus, kampachi!) and then couldn’t decide between the mains so I asked the chef to pick for us. I would have never chosen the scallops because they’re so easy to get wrong but WOW. They were incredible and I highly recommend you try them on your next visit! We were so full we split a dessert and the berry compote cheesecake was the perfect way to end the meal. The Conservatory has a massive wall of windows and is a wonderful spot to watch the sunset if it’s too chilly to hang out on the Ocean Lawn.
The next morning we slept in, went down to Navio for a late breakfast and walked the beach before heading home. Navio is famous for their extravagant buffet brunches but after the massive meal the night before we just ordered a la carte. The views of the ocean paired with dark paneling, navy and white upholstery and rope accents – no one would blame you for thinking you had boarded a yacht for a moment. If it seems like we spent the whole weekend eating and lounging you’d be exactly right. While there is plenty to do in the area from golf to horseback riding, surfing to visiting wineries and flower farms I love that it’s a destination so relaxing you can just sit and take it all in, and be perfectly happy at that.
Thank you to the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay for welcoming us back again!