Three-day weekend: Half Moon Bay

Catch the spirit of the season - and the sea - just south of San Francisco

Lisa Taggart

Finding the holiday spirit this month might be as easy as cruising over the Coast Range to the quiet town of Half Moon Bay. The drive rewards with a peaceful landscape of Christmas tree and flower nurseries, seaside bluffs, timeworn farmhouses, and the mesmerizing calm of the winter ocean. It's such a restful spot, it's surprising that this coastal retreat is so close to Bay Area bustle.

Day One - Friday
Day two - Saturday
Day three - Sunday
The Quiet Coast
Founded on fishing and farming, Half Moon Bay now has a downtown lined with shops and restaurants, offering a gift-gathering getaway. You'll likely see fog and maybe a coastal storm at this time of year, but winter skies can also be startlingly clear. And, with the area's December appeal still a relative secret, you'll likely have the beaches to yourself - with a few surfers and elephant seals here and there.