Half Moon Bay has tons of residential parking, which is one of my favorites. My personal favorite is parking in the street in a decent neighborhood. Neighbor A thinks you are visiting neighbor B and neighbor B thinks you are visiting neighbor A. As long as you pull in at dark, turn off your lights, and immediately go to sleep you have no problems whatsoever, nine times out of ten. My other favorite is motel/inn parking lots. The more crowded and the bigger the better. Especially the bigger hotels where there is no security guard but the parking lots are large with 40, 50, 60 cars. Just pull right in, turn off the lights, and go right to sleep. Nice and essentially safe and they simply think you are staying in their hotel.
Half Moon Bay is one of our oldest haunts as we used to come here in our full size class A motorhome. When traveling that way you are obviously more comfortable but you must pay for regular campground camping everywhere you go and its more dangerous on the mountainous roads with big vehicles. We definitely prefer the Vanabode style of van camping California on $40 a day to the more committed big RV method we employed for 4 years.
Half Moon Bay State Park and Francis Beach was our major hang out for 3 days this trip. Day parking for $6 gets you security, ocean view seaside parking, access to hot showers and bathrooms, and picnic tables 20 feet away. You can actually park for free towards the end of each day if you come in late but everyone must leave by dark. If you want to stay all night pay $25 and stay at the campground next door. No hookups, but there is a dump station and a common water hose for refilling water supplies, and the same hot showers that give you 2 minutes for every quarter you in.
Half Moon Bay has great sandy beaches, perfect temperatures and great weather most of the year, making it a perfect gateway into San Francisco if you are heading that way. The town itself is small, quaint, quiet and most restaurants close by 8 or 9 during the week. There is a thriving downtown area inland about 2 miles from the beach where we did laundry, bought groceries, and goofed off at the library which provided a great place to day park, bathrooms, and a quiet "office" for the day with electricity and Internet access. At night we parked curbside in some of the neighborhood streets.
There are about 35 miles of shoreline here where you can fish, surf, swim, snorkel, kayak, picnic, walk, hike, bike, play and sunbathe. California style fishing and farming are a big part of this seaside communities life, providing fresh seafood and local produce for residents and many fine restaurants. Some eateries serve over 60% of their menu straight from local farms and fisherman making the freshness factor unbeatable. Prices are still high compared to the rest of the country though. You can hike Mount Montara's trails, which offer good views of the ocean, wildlife like seals and ocean birds, rare exotic plants, and flowering fields of color. In Moss Beach you can find very clean interesting tide pools. Throw on your snorkel and mask and bob around close to the shore all day. You will not be disappointed. If you are traveling further up the coast rather than going inland to San Francisco hike the hilly bluffs to Princetown where you can see Maverick's, a famous surfing spot known for crazy dangerous waves.
We are the Half Moon Bay State Beach and there are probably a thousand people here. There is 75 feet of sand and some pretty big waves. It was sunny for the first three hours and now it is just solid clouds from horizon to horizon, which is kind of typical for a central to northern coast California day. When it is sunny you need to get out because it does not necessarily always last. There are seaweed collectors around. They are taking big chunks of kelp, snapping off the heads, and rolling up the leaves, to take home to cook. Parking here is excellent. For about 50 cents you can take a long hot shower. The bathrooms are clean. There are lots of bathrooms. You can do the day parking for $6 and make use of the showers. You could just about stay here forever. Also, there is camping nearby for $25 a day for large motorhomes with flats and separate lots. I do not know if they have electricity or water but then again I don't care because we do not travel that way any longer.
About a dozen Asians just got swept over by a small tsunami - blankets and kids are rolling and tumbling down the surf. They are laughing and screaming. Their belongings are flying everywhere. One little girl gets pulled from the water and she has a huge giant eagle feather glued to her arm and she comes up out of the surf. Grandmother, of course, comes out of the water with another wad of kelp to cook for dinner. The kid sits down and stares at the feather and finally takes her little hands and removes the feather. It scares everybody like it doesn't have a clue what is going on. They are literally tipping their purses and pouring the water out of them because everything got totally wiped.
Half Moon Bay might not be a destination but definitely a great stopping off point up the coast on your way to San Francisco. Small towns have quite a few bed and breakfast inns, real quaint to great beaches, nice public access, plenty of in-town parking in the neighborhoods.
Half Moon Bay McDonald's working on computer for a few hours. Kelly had to find a dentist to cement her crown that had fallen out the night before. We went to Safeway for some groceries. Drove to Half Moon Bay state beach and Francis beach - $6 day use. But they have an rv camping park as well and there are showers for the campers. Ate picnic lunch at beach, hot rotisserie chicken, broccoli salad, potato dill salad, fresh spring rolls, and baby Ben & Jerry's ice creams. Afterwards, we walked down to the beach and sat in the lounge chairs for a few hours watching all the kids and adults get pummeled by the pseudo-rogue waves (I believe it was becoming high tide).
We watched the Asian children bring their grandmother a collection of kelp. She would twist the head "pearl onion" from the leaves, rinse it in the salt water, and then wrap it around her hand, and place in a walmart bag to cook for dinner that night. We watched a dad hold on to his daughter ducking a shore dump and they got separated so quickly by the water that it took him four waves to get his wits about him and stand to his feet. Immediately he walked away from the water. I ran the paved trail 5 miles. It also runs parallel to the horse trail, which I passed several riders from 6 years and older walking or trotting their rented horse. We took a shower and getting clean and fresh always feels good like you could sing at the top of your lungs clean. We picnicked again with our rotisserie chicken and wine this time in the cool of the evening. We took Bugsy out for a walk too. Drove to a local neighborhood for the night.
Went to Half Moon Bay McDonald's to work on computer for an hour before the library opened and then to the library. Kelly worked and downloaded CDs. She likes free music. We worked until 2:30 p.m. and then headed northeast into a bigger city to find a Radio Shack for an inverter because ours blew out. In San Mateo we found one and I hooked it up to the battery. As we were driving up the highway the temperature gauge stopped working and the check engine light came on. So we pulled off the highway, disconnected the new $67 inverter, and found a Chevrolet dealership to make an appointment for Monday. That means we have to stay around San Bruno for a couple of days. We worked those days. We got directions to a mall called Shops at Tanforan that has a Barnes & Noble. The San Francisco National Cemetary sits across from the mall. It is huge. We walked around the mall for a bit and then ate dinner at BJ brewhouse. Slept in the Albertson's parking lot - Half Moon Bay California