It has been so HOT lately. I'm so glad we made reservations months ago to camp on the coast last week. It was like night and day. While it was scorching here, it was very cool at the coast. In fact, it got downright cold as the sun went down, but that's okay. I packed plenty of warm clothes to wear, and I was happy not to be sitting around melting in the sun up here. It was a good break.
The past couple years, we have spent time at both Santa Cruz and Westport Beach, near Fort Bragg. This year we decided to try some place different. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time at Half Moon Bay, and have many fond family memories there, with expended family and friends. Hubby had never been, so he was game to try, as long as it was a beach trip.
We stayed at Francis Beach, which is part of the State Park system. If you haven't made reservations through the state Park system in awhile, it is now a rolling 6 month out reservation system. That means if you want reservations, you can't get them until exactly 6 months from the day you want to start camping. It used to be a whole month opened up on the first of the month (at least to the best of my recollection that was the way it was). Anyway, what that means to you is that you have to be on it! I tried several times to get weekend reservations, but couldn't. I finally was able to get them, but only if I started the trip on a Wednesday night, and included the weekend with it.
When I chose the campsite I looked at the map to find the sites that looked the biggest. We've stayed at campsites where you are really close to your neighbor, and feel a bit cramped, so when ever possible I try and find bigger spots. I ended up choosing #14, and we loved it. There was plenty of space all around us.
Bears don't seem to be an issue next to the beach, so there are no "food lockers". We always like to play it safe, and put our food in the car at night, and I'm glad we did. We left an ice chest, that had only drinks in it, out. I scooted it under the bench seat of the picnic table. During the night, my husband heard something, and looked out of the test. A raccoon was trying to open it up. Luckily he couldn't because the lid would not open since it would hit the top of the seat above it. In the morning, we could see his raccoon prints on the top of the ice chest, and the kids thought that was pretty funny!
Now for the best part: the beach!! We all love the beach, so we were so excited to head down and play. Francis beach is part of 4 State Park Beaches along the coast in Half Moon Bay. Venice, Dunes and Roosevelt are the other 3. There is a trail you can ride bikes on or hike, connecting them all. Just head north. We took the trail to Venice beach. It's a nice walk, and there is a really cool bridge you go over.
If you take the same trail and head south, it leads you to another park (not in the State system), called Poplar Beach. The thing that is cool about this one is you can bring your dog right on the beach! We brought ours, and it was his first beach experience. It was fun watching his reaction. When we hit the water, his first instinct was to put his head down and get a drink, but he quickly found out it wasn't like the water he usually drinks. The cold water startled him at first, but he quickly became accustomed to it.
On day two we decided to head into town and check it out, and I'm so glad we did. We found a place called Oddyssea. It's amazing, with craft stations for kids to make things. There is a pirate theme, and you have to go inside the store (right next to it) and buy Doubloons. You use those to pay for each craft. The kids had fun making necklaces, doing sand art, decorating little bird houses, and finding treasures.
After our adventure in towm it was back to the beach! It's safe to say the kids had fun. They spent hours digging in the sand, chasing waves, and running all around. The waves are pretty big, so they didn't venture out far into the water, but were still able to get a little wet as they chased the waves (or maybe I should say the waves chased them, as they ran back towards us with the waves following behind them). They built sand castles, and the waves would wash over their creations, getting them wet in the process. One really nice thing about our campsite, #14, is that it is on the north end of the campground. On the south end there is day use parking, with people coming for the day to enjoy the beach. We had a path close to our campsite, leading to the beach, and since we were at the north end, there weren't very many people.
Yes it was chilly at night, but the kids didn't seem to mind. We made a fire, enjoyed s'mores and drank hot chocolate to warm up. Fog is a fact of life at the coast, and the second morning there was a little, making anything left outside overnight a little damp. We expected that though, so we knew not to keep anything out we didn't mind getting a little wet.
We were lucky the bathrooms were close by, and they had showers. Just be sure to bring plenty of quarters if you go. It was 50¢ for two minutes. You can buy firewood onsite, and they had a campfire program on Friday and Saturday night. If you are a biker or hiker, they also have campsites just for you! You can hike or bike in and set up camp. We are looking forward to going again, and next time we will bring bikes and scooters!
To make reservations go to the State Park Website
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