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Category Archives: Best Bay Area Day Trips

Where is Princeton by the Sea?

September 28, 2015 by Mill Rose Inn

princeton by the sea

Photo Credit: Martin Stein / Flickr

Princeton by the Sea is a lovely little, unincorporated community just north of Half Moon Bay and adjacent from the famed Pillar Point Harbor. Though the Mavericks Surf Competition is typically attributed to the town of Half Moon Bay, it is in fact held in Princeton by the Sea, meaning that this sleepy little community of under 300 residents is quite the tourist attraction during the winter months of massive waves. Surrounded by farmland on two sides, and the commercial fishing harbor on a third, when the surfers aren’t in town this sleepy seaside town is a wonderfully relaxing place to visit while in Half Moon Bay.

Where is Princeton by the Sea?

The quaint Princeton by the Sea is only 35 highway miles south of San Francisco, and less than five miles up the coast from downtown Half Moon Bay. It is the ideal place to stop for a beer or seaside lunch if you’re heading south from the city on Route 1. Princeton by the Sea proper is home to numerous attractions like restaurants, harbors and surf spots that are often attributed to Half Moon Bay as well, so there are plenty of things to do in this quiet town.

What is There to Do in Princeton by the Sea?

As an unincorporated community, many of the village’s addresses are attributed to Half Moon Bay. Princeton by the Sea is where you’ll find famous local haunts like the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company and Barbara’s Fishtrap. The Brewing Company is known throughout the Bay Area for its local craft brews of both year-round staples and seasonal treats. Barbara’s Fishtrap is one of the best places to get a fresh off the boat seafood meal, and is literally a stone’s throw from the fishing dock. The famous Mavericks wave is also technically in Princeton by the Sea, which is one of the main reasons that this once very sleepy little town now has multiple hotels and restaurants to serve the influx of guests in town during the big wave season.

What is Mavericks?

Aside from being Princeton by the Sea’s biggest attraction, Mavericks is a world class surf wave that hosts an annual competition. During the winter months the Mavericks wave is known to rise up to 60 feet high, and can be so ferociously explosive that it can actually be recorded on the Richter scale. While it is one of the world’s most celebrated swells, it is inevitably one of its most treacherous as well, having taken the lives of many people throughout the years. Half Moon Bay native, Jeff Clark, was the first person to surf the big wave in 1975, just a high schooler at the time. He has been surfing Mavericks for the past 40 years.

The competition, now known as Titans of Mavericks, takes place sometime within the season, which opens January 1st and runs through March 31st. In the preseason, hopeful competitors head to the area to show off their skills with the hopes of being one of the 24 finalists chosen to compete during the official showdown. Competitors are watched closely by the C5, as the judges are known, during the preseason months and are judged according to a list of criteria.

For more ideas of things to do while visiting the Half Moon Bay area, download this free Vacation Guide!

8 Annual Events in the Bay Area

May 29, 2015 by Mill Rose Inn

events in the bay area

Photo Credit: Ben_Pruchnie_Studio / iStock / Thinkstock

The San Francisco Bay Area is a large and culturally diverse hotspot for some of the world’s, and certainly the country’s, most famous events. Not only is it full of exciting and progressive things to do, it is also a staggeringly beautiful place full of ocean and bay views, hills and mountains, and more architectural wonders than you can count. From the techy south bay and Silicon Valley, the posh San Francisco, the crunchy East Bay and, of course, the wine producing Napa Valley to the north. You will find a plethora of events in the Bay Area throughout its unique regions.

Here are some of the upcoming events in the Bay Area for the remainder of 2015.

  • San Francisco Shakespeare Festival – June 27 – September 27
    Free Shakespeare in the Park takes place all summer long not just in the city, but also in Pleasanton, Cupertino and Redwood City. This summer they are playing Romeo and Juliet.
  • San Francisco Frozen Film Festival – July 17 – 20
    This independent film festival is held in the Mission district of the city every summer, and aside from showcasing films by internationally renowned filmmakers, the SFFFF also has a youth program that focuses on showcasing the work of local minority groups.
  • The San Francisco Marathon – July 26
    The marathon draws runners from all over the world who fancy a running tour of the city. Whether you want to run a full or half marathon or the arduous 52.4, there are few places as beautiful for a race.
  • Music in the Vineyards – July 31 – August 23
    This is a classy chamber music festival that happens throughout Napa Valley at the end of each summer. Musicians in residence from around the world come out to play breathtaking concerts. This year the Music in the Vineyards theme will be Schubert.
  • Outside Lands – August, 7 – 9
    This event is much more than just a music festival. It also features world class comedians, and delicious foods and beverages from around the Bay Area. Outside Lands is always a blast and takes place in the famous Golden Gate Park.
  • Eat Real Festival – September 18 – 20
    If you love food this downtown Oakland food truck fest is one of the best cultural attractions in the area. It is more than just eating, but there are also many cooking demonstrations and even classes where you can learn the secrets of famous chefs.
  • Hardly Strictly Bluegrass – October 2 – 4
    This free festival in Golden Gate Park features seven stages of music for a whole weekend of fun. These headlining artists at Hardly Strictly are worth braving the crowds.
  • Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival – October 17 – 18
    The Pumpkin Festival is a perfect celebration of both the harvest season as well as Halloween. Between the giant carved gourds, harvest inspired treats, and great musical performances, it is a great way to enjoy one of the most beautiful times of the year in the Bay Area.

This is just a small sample of the events in the Bay Area that happen each year, which are continually drawing people to the perfect place for year-round outdoor activities. If you’re planning a trip to the area and are looking for more ideas of things to do, check out this free vacation guide full of great ideas.

Our 8 Favorite Half Moon Bay Shops

February 26, 2015 by Mill Rose Inn

half moon bay shops

The Bay Area has long been known for being on the frontier of culture, which includes its retail sector. Though the small coastal town of Half Moon Bay is a few miles south of San Francisco, its landscape can be expected to be just as exciting and progressive. You’ll find world-class cuisine from many different ethnicities, award-winning bed and breakfasts and, of course, a vibrant shopping climate, making it the perfect place for vacation or even a day trip.  If you’re staying with us at the Mill Rose Inn the best thing about Half Moon Bay shops is that they are within walking distance, making your excursion all the more convenient and enjoyable.

Here are 8 of our favorite Half Moon Bay shops:

  1. Savvy Skirts is a fun, eclectic clothing and accessories store for women. This shop supports local artisans and entrepreneurs and carries a wide selection of products made for women by women.
  2. Toque Blanche is the ultimate cooking store for the home chef. As the Bay Area is known for its culinary scene, you can be sure that this great kitchen store sells only the best in cooking tools.
  3. The Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company is one of the most necessary establishments in town. Their selection of California and international wines and cheeses is the subject of many foodie dreams. If you’re planning on spending time at any of the Half Moon Bay beaches, you definitely want to make a stop here on the way.
  4. For a taste of the California surf, head over to Mavericks surf shop, which belongs to one of the town’s most legendary surfers, Jeff Clark. Whether you’re interested in taking a lesson or not, this is one of the Half Moon Bay shops that will give you some great insight into the town’s culture.
  5. The Bay Book Company is a one-stop shop for a great read and a quality imported cigar. Depending on your tastes, this could also be a great place to stop by on your way to the beach or one of the many beach-side patio bars.
  6. Fengari is the local fiber arts store selling only the best in quality yarns and knit products. If this is a hobby you enjoy, get ready to be inspired.
  7. The Posh Moon is a boutique carrying only unique brands and styles. It was recently voted the Best Place to Buy Clothing on the Coast.
  8. Rouge Boutique is another great shop for rare finds in women’s clothing and accessories, music, men’s shirts and humorous gifts.

If you’re heading to this charming Northern California coastal town in the near future, no matter your motivation, be it surfing, hiking or just straight relaxing, you’ll enjoy exploring a few of these Half Moon Bay shops. The experience of staying right downtown at the Mill Rose Inn with the ability to walk to all these great shops and the town’s wonderful restaurants is unmatched. You’ll love your downtown Half Moon Bay experience, no matter the time of year or the reason for your visit.

Take a Half Moon Bay Kayak Trip

December 22, 2014 by Mill Rose Inn

Half Moon Bay Kayak

Half Moon Bay Kayaks / Photo By John K via Flickr

The most quintessential way to see our little California Bay on the sea-side of the San Francisco Bay Peninsula is to take a Half Moon Bay Kayak Trip. If you want to see the entire coastline from the water, then a leisurely paddle along the shore is a great way to do it. This is ecotourism at its best!

You’ll be shocked by the famed rocky cliffs of the Pacific coast when you see them from just a few feet above the water’s surface. The mountains that run lengthwise down the peninsula, dividing the small coastal towns from the busy world of Silicon Valley and blanketed in redwood and eucalyptus groves are similarly breathtaking. The sandy beaches running along the coast are great resting points during your trip on the high seas. You’ll get the chance to glimpse wildlife like sea otters and whales. There are also miles of salt marshes in the area to kayak through for a more mellow trip.

Here are some local Half Moon Bay Kayak companies where you can rent equipment and sign up for tours.

Half Moon Bay Kayak Company

This company boasts numerous great trips, including team building trips for an out-of-office adventure. At very descent prices you can be outfitted with all the equipment you need and led over varying waters to explore Half Moon Bay. Sign up for an easy coastal paddle, or explore the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve – one of the most diverse ecosystems on the entire West Coast. Famous for being the safest harbor in the United States Pillar Point by sea kayak is another favorite tour. They also offer two different full moon paddles, one of which includes a stop for dinner. Or end a day of sightseeing with a lovely sunset paddle.

If you like fishing from a sea kayak then be sure to pack your fishing gear because this is your spot. You can rent a Cobra kayak with fishing rod holders. If you’re a competitor you should definitely come in July for the Nor Cal Kayak Angler’s Half Moon Bay fishing derby.

California Canoe and Kayak

Another local favorite and one of California’s oldest paddlesports company, California Canoe and Kayak will provide a great Half Moon Bay experience. Not only do they offer numerous rental options – including tandems! – and tour choices, but they also offer numerous sea kayaking classes. If you’re considering planning a long kayak trip this is a great opportunity to start studying up on this great sport. You can start with a beginners course and work your way up.

Getting our for a Half Moon bay kayak trip is worth very minute. The great thing about the above companies is that they offer multiple paddlesport equipment and tours so you can continue your sea adventures. If you’re staying with us here at the Mill Rose Inn this is a great daytime activity that will leave you ready for a meal at one of our great local restaurants. You’ll sleep well after a few hours out on the water!



Half Moon Bay to San Francisco is a Quick Jaunt

December 9, 2014 by Mill Rose Inn

half moon bay to san francisco

Downtown San Francisco / Photo by Adam via Flickr

If you’re staying here at the Mill Rose Inn to experience some of that sweet California coast life we highly recommend that you make the quick trip from Half Moon Bay to San Francisco for a day of exploring this historic and beautiful city. This is among the favorite day trips that our guests take in the Bay Area and is sure to be a great cultural experience for any of our guests. If you’re coming to the city for business you may even consider staying down the coast a little ways with us to get some time away from the busy city after a long day of work.

The Drive

Just 25 miles away, this 40 minute drive from Half Moon Bay to San Francisco is one of the most beautiful coastal rides in the whole Unites States. You can follow the famed coastal highway, Route 1, all the way to Ocean Beach, or hop on I-280 for easy access to downtown San Francisco. This winding road along the coast cliffs is breathtaking, and will bring you meandering past famous spots like Pillar Point Harbor and Rockaway Beach. As you approach the city and drive through more urban areas like Daily City you will find them just as pleasing to the eyes. The city’s rolling hills dotted with colorful family homes will strike you as almost European. The city itself will give you a thrill to drive through as you tackle the steep hills and busy roads. The drive alone is an event!

San Francisco

Once you get to the city the options are endless – quite literally. You won’t possibly be able to fit everything into one day, but don’t let that keep you from making the quick jaunt from Half Moon Bay to San Francisco. Our guests have many favorite San Francisco spots – far too many to list here – but here’s a rundown of places worth getting to.

  1. Ocean Beach – Head out to city’s only surf spot to experience a different kind of beach. The Ocean Beach pathway is a great place to take a walk or a bike ride, and is a scene all its own.
  2. Golden Gate Park – This famous spot at the center of San Francisco makes for a gorgeous stroll, and is a place you could easily end up spending the whole day. The park is not only full on beautiful gardens, but also has places like the California Academy of Science and the De Young Museum.
  3. The Presidio – This is another great place to drive or walk around. Located at the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, the Presidio served as an army post for three nations, and is covered in beautiful restored barrack buildings. The Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County leaves the Peninsula from this beautiful landmark.

The trip from Half Moon Bay to San Francisco is worth every minute of the beautiful drive, and there are an overwhelming number of things to see in this international city. Its beauty is breathtaking, and its culture rich. We would love to give you directions and recommendations as you plan you trip from the Mill Rose Inn to the big city.

Explore the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve

December 1, 2014 by Mill Rose Inn

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve

Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve / Photo By Lee Jaffe via Flickr

If you’re staying with us in downtown Half Moon Bay at the Mill Rose Inn the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve is a unique experience that is a quick 20 minute. On the coast of the San Francisco Bay Peninsula, just south of the city, you’ll find this well preserved wetland full of species unique to the area. If you’re looking to explore the one-of-a-kind coast, the Pescadero Marsh should be at the top of your list as it is the only marsh on the coast of the peninsula.

The Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve is a part of the Pescadero State Beach, and is a 243 acres of tidal estuary, freshwater and brackish water marshes, dense riparian woods, and northern coastal scrub. The water bird populations increase in the winter months as the northern populations migrate south to find water a good nesting grounds. Two hundred species of birds have been recorded in the marsh, including 60 that nest there. The great Blue Heron is among the nesting birds, and is one of the most famous spectacles of this beautiful preserve. The heron’s wingspan reaches 6 feet, making it a graceful giant of the skies.

The Coastal State Parks Association was founded in 1990 and helps to maintain the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve. In 2011 they helped raise funding for a footbridge that extends access to the back of the marsh, adding foot trails to the area. There are hiking trails throughout the marsh with breathtaking views of this complex natural habitat. You can opt to take a quick 1 mile hike or make it a longer 5 mile loop if you’re feeling ambitious. If you’re a serious birder bring your binoculars and you’ll have the chance to do some world class bird watching.

September through October, and again in  April are great times to come witness the bird migrations as North America’s water birds come in to roost in this water fowl haven. Come for a walk at dusk to catch the sight of the skies darkened with birds all landing for the evening. The new footbridge will be the perfect place to witness this uncanny feat of nature.

The first and third Sundays of the month you can meet a docent at the park for a 2 hour nature walk through the park where you will be educated on the area’s natural history and diverse species. The Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve is a favorite field trip for children throughout the Bay Area, and hosts 10,000 kids each year. If you’re traveling with your children this is a great opportunity to get them some fresh air and an educational experience in one great adventure.

The Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve is an absolute necessity for any of our nature-loving guests. This is one of the most unique sites in the whole Bay Area, and is right between our cozy spot here at the Mill Rose Inn and the big city up the coast. It is right off Highway 1, making it literally right on the way to the city, and would be a great place to stop for a quick stop on the way home, as well as a great destination in itself.

Where is Half Moon Bay and Why Should I Visit?

November 24, 2014 by Mill Rose Inn

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay / Photo By Chris Gin via Flickr

Half Moon Bay is a small coastal town in Northern California. Located in San Mateo County, which covers about half of the San Francisco Bay Peninsula, it is home to just under 12,000 people. This quaint California town offers the best of the north coast views and culture without the bustle of the city. You’ll find world class surf, fishing, and food in a quiet atmosphere. Half Moon Bay is a great getaway from California city life, as well as a wonderful destination for those traveling from out-of-state.

Half Moon Bay is 45 minutes from San Francisco, San Jose and Palo Alto making it a very accessible from two international airports for vacationers, and an easy day trip for the residents of Bay Area metros. It also just over the hill from San Mateo, from which you can get on the San Mateo Bridge and be in the East Bay in about 30 minutes. It is a prime location for anyone Bay Area bound, and easy stopover if you’re not planning on staying.

You’ll find those famed rocky California shores in Half Moon Bay, which you can see from any number of the great hiking trails, none of which are far from downtown. The Purisima Creek Redwoods trails are popular and offer unique canyon hikes. Pillar Point Bluff trails will take you soaring above the wide open Pacific Ocean, and give you both northern and southern views of the gorgeous coastline. The San Pedro Valley Park is a breathtaking hike that will get you up in the mountains that run down the middle of the Peninsula, featuring views of the San Francisco Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

Half Moon Bay is also home to one of the most famous waves in the world, known as Mavericks. This surf spot, named after a famous surfer’s dog, is the destination for the annual world class, invitation only surf competition, which is also called Mavericks. Surfers and spectators alike travel from all over the globe to participate in this event, which is always a somewhat impromptu competition because it depends completely on the weather. If you’re not quite at the pro-wave level there are plenty of other great beginner and intermediate surf spots around including Santa Cruz, which is just another hour down the coast.

This great little town is also home to some wonderful dining options. Chez Shea is fabulous french restaurant that will put you in the small town mindset with its petite, welcoming dining room. The Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is another favorite amongst both locals and visitors for its great craft beers and reputable menu. Cameron’s British Pub is another local favorite hangout with hearty food and drinks.

The charming Half Moon Bay offers everything California is known for in one small, walkable package. You can reside small town style and drive up to San Francisco for the day, returning to the quiet of our little bay at the end of the day. If you’re looking for a great vacation come and stay with us right downtown at the Mill Rose Inn. We’d love to have you!

Explore the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail

September 17, 2014 by Mill Rose Inn

Half Moon Bay Coastal TrailBy foot or by bike, spend the day exploring the Half Moon Bay Coastal Trail.  Family members of all ages will enjoy the ease of the flat paths and the amazing views at the stops along the way.  The trail is 11.5 miles long and can easily take a half of a day to complete.  The trail opens up to bluff side benches for watching the ocean waves and has access to great State beaches for quick dips in the sea.  Experience a morning or afternoon on the trail and uncover all the beauty of Half Moon Bay.

The summer months are the busiest times to visit the trail as the paths can become crowded.  The spring, fall and winter seasons seem to have fewer visitors and the weather is more likely to cooperate. Any season and any time of year, the Half Moon Bay Coastal trail is the ideal day trip when visiting the area.  Layered clothing is recommended as the ocean breeze can create cooler conditions depending on the time of day.  Half of the paths along the trail are paved with the other half consisting of dirt.  Despite the terrain, they still create a great ride for biking, running or walking.  The paths are dog friendly and even horses can be seen on the dirt paths.  The trails can become clouded with fog on many days but when the fog clears, the paths are perfect for meandering and taking in all the views.

There are spots to have lunch or drinks along the way, or bring a picnic to enjoy on the beach.  The end of one path will lead you to a ride through the beautifully manicured Ritz Carlton property and the trail runs adjacent to the golf course.  For stunning views of the ocean coast and an easy walk, the Half Moon Bay Coastal trail creates quite the experience.  There are many places to begin the journey.  The entry at the end of Poplar Avenue has access to the beach where dogs are allowed.  When walking the trails versus biking, begin at Francis Beach.  If biking first, begin at Magellan Road.  Other points of interest along the trail are the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, Moss Beach Park and Half Moon Bay Harbor where fresh fish and crab can be purchased right from the boats depending on time of year.

Half Moon Bay, California is home to the award-winning B&B by the sea, The Mill Rose Inn.  The Inn is not only close to shops and dining, it is situated right on the ocean.  This beautiful and elegant bed and breakfast with its antiques and lavish décor, will have you feeling relaxed and ready to unwind.  There are six guest suites complete with private entrance and filled with items like a stocked refrigerator and Japanese dressing robes.  A gourmet breakfast is served each morning with items including French pastries, homemade breads, omelets, fruit and fresh squeezed juices.  After breakfast, take a stroll in the lush gardens filled with hundreds of roses and tropical flowers.  When booking your stay, there is a 20% discount for same-day reservations.  Room availability and nightly rate can be found on their website.

Photo courtesy of Tracy Vierra

5 Best Bay Area Day Trips to Try

May 31, 2014 by Mill Rose Inn

Best Bay Area Day TripsThe Half Moon Bay area has so many attractions and activities to enjoy. Summer and autumn are the ideal time to get out of the city and experience the great outdoors with some of the most breathtaking scenery on the California Coast.  Whether you want to see meticulously landscaped gardens, pristine beaches, or wondrous forests, the Half Moon Bay area is a dream for outdoor enthusiasts.  When you’re not relaxing and restoring your spirits at Mill Rose Inn, try some of the best Bay Area day trips to fill your schedule.


1. Filoli

If you’re looking to take in an historic home as well as some amazingly manicured gardens, you should visit Filoli.  The location just 30 minutes outside San Francisco makes it one of the best Bay Area day trips.  Filoli is a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and was built in the early 20th century. The grounds include acres of gardens, a nature preserve, orchards, and an estate house that was used as the exterior of the house on Dynasty!


2. Berry Creek Falls

Located in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Berry Creek Falls is a breathtaking waterfall with lots of beauty surrounding it.   There are three routes to the falls: The Skyline to the Sea Trail, the Sunset – Skyline to the Sea Trails Loop, and the Skyline to the Sea – Timms Creek – Sunset Trails Loop. Other nearby landmarks to see during your time in the area include Opal Creek, Santa Clara Tree, Golden Falls, and Golden Falls.


3. Montara Mountain

One of the best Bay Area day trips is in nearby Pacifica, California.  Montar Mountain has a great trail that is a 7.5 mile out and back distance. This trail is best for experienced hiker with good endurance.  Other than hiking, a popular activity for visitors to Montara Mountain is mountain biking.  The trail is open year round and offers some spectacular views.


4. Half Moon Bay State Park and Coastside Trails

If you want to have a great day trip away from the Inn but don’t want to go too far, you should try visiting Half Moon Bay State Park and the Coastside Trail.  The Coastside Trail runs along the Pacific Coastline and offers amazing view of the beaches and ocean below.  There is access to several beaches along the trail and it intersects with Half Moon Bay State Park and Half Moon Bay State Beach.  Make a day of visiting these special places by planning a hike on the trail and a picnic and some games on the beach.


5. Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve

Among the best Bay Area Day trips is the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. Experience the the wonder of the California Redwoods in this 4,711-acre preserve.  The centerpiece of the preserve is Purisima Creek Canyon, which boasts towering redwoods, a beautiful range of local flora and a ruling creek.  Explore 24 miles of developed trails that provide easy walks or long difficult hikes. The Redwood Trail is accessible for all visitors, so no matter your hiking abilities you should pay a visit to the Purisima Creek Redwoods.


No matter which of the best Bay Area day trips day trips you decide to embark on, be sure to book your stay at the Mill Rose Inn.  Our sumptuously decorated guest rooms and suite are the perfect place to rest and recharge between adventures.  And if a strenuous hike leaves your muscles sore, one of our certified massage therapists can ease the tension and make you feel brand new. The elegant furnishings will surround you with luxury and our expert staff will ensure your time in Half Moon Bay will be the experience of a lifetime. We can’t wait to see you soon!



Photo courtesy Jill Clardy.