Half Moon Bay – Your Holiday Preview
By Kathy Chin Leong

Even after pumpkin season has passed, the coastside town of Half Moon Bay is bustling with activity this time of year. Here’s a primer on what to expect in December so that you can plan ahead for a weekend stay or a day trip.


The month of December begins with Nights of Light, Friday, December 02, 2005 through Saturday, December 3 from 5 to 9 p.m.

Downtown Main Street is transformed into a winter wonderland with snow, carriage rides, street performers, and dear ol’ Santa. Enjoy hot cider, popcorn and those beloved chestnuts roasting on an open fire.


While in town, a visit to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a definite must-do. Consider engaging in one of the many festivities this elegant property offers.

The hotel’s annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration takes place Saturday, December 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. This complimentary event officially starts at twilight, when the resort's holiday trees are illuminated on the back Gazebo Lawn and singers are performing outdoors.All are invited to partake in free hot chocolate, eggnog, and cookies while viewing the gingerbread houses on display. Word has it that Mr. Kringle will most likely pay a visit.

Another complimentary event at the Ritz includes holiday entertainment from Thursday Dec. 22 to Sunday Dec. 25. Carolers in Dickens’ garb will be spreading musical cheer in the lobby and lounge area at 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. each evening. And on the weekend,performances will take place at 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Sunday afternoon 4-5 p.m.

For parents who want to go full tilt with their little ones, the hotel is also sponsoring a $50 Teddy Bear Tea from Dec. 2 through 18 on Fridays and weekends. Take home a photo souvenir and teddy bear. Listen to classic stories while enjoying a "tea" of hot cocoa, mini finger sandwiches andsweets. One Miramontes Pt. Rd. 650-712-7040. See www.ritzcarlton.com


Nearby Lemos Farm , a town favorite, switches from pumpkins to Christmas trees this time of year. Come and chop down your own tree while enjoying a picnic here.You can bring your own lunch or purchase food on the premises. The downhome property features a petting zoo, carousel, train ride, hay rides, and other kid-friendly amusements. 12320 San Mateo Road (Hwy. 92), 650/726-2342. See www.lemosfarm.com

For an amazing dinner you will remember, go with the adults or take the kids with you to Cetrella Bistro and Cafe , one of the top-rated Mediterranean restaurants in the Bay Area and so popular it has also been featured in Gourmet Magazine. Decorated with earthy tones and anchored by an indoor fireplace in the dining room, this tony establishment lists meals hovering $30 and includes an extensive 2,500 bottle wine list.

For its holiday offering, Cetrella will be featuring goose on its dinner menu throughout the month of December with goose hash during its Sunday brunch. 845 Main St., 650/726-4090. See www.cetrella.com .


  • Bundle up! It’s cold in December, but be prepared to sunny skies as the weather is tricky.
  • Visit the different farms in town for pony rides, fresh flowers, and produce.
  • Take a hike or go tidepooling at one of the many Half Moon Bay Beaches.

Kathy Chin Leong visits Half Moon Bay frequently to go shopping downtown and visit the Ritz-Carlton for its spectacular view.  

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