Romancing the California Coast: Barrier-Free Travel

Romancing the California Coast: Barrier-Free Trave
You just can’t beat Half Moon Bay for romance. Located 30 miles (48 km) south of San Francisco, this coastal community in San Mateo County is the ideal destination for a romantic rendezvous — on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year. Luxury inns, intimate restaurants, spectacular scenery and good access abound in Half Moon Bay; and let’s face it, even the name just oozes romance.

Although there are scores of unique properties to choose from in the area, the Beach House and Landis Shores stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. Both offer excellent access, luxurious rooms and a very romantic atmosphere.

the Beach House view
Enjoying the great view from the patio at the Beach House.

Located next to Surfers’ Beach, the Beach House ( 4100 North Cabrillo Highway, Half Moon Bay) features 54 oceanfront lofts. There are four accessible guest rooms, including one (101) with a roll-in shower. All rooms have a separate living and sleeping area plus a microwave, refrigerator, wet bar and a small cook top. In short, everything you could possibly want or need for a romantic getaway. There is good pathway access throughout the spacious rooms, with level access to the balcony or porch.

There is also a sling lift available for the oceanfront pool and Jacuzzi. As an added bonus, there is level access to the paved coastside trail next door. It’s the perfect place for that romantic moonlight stroll.

Just down the road, on romantic Miramar Beach, you’ll find Landis Shores (211 Mirada Road, Half Moon Bay). This eight-room property features the accessible San Francisco Bay Room, which includes an open frame queen-size bed, wide doorways, lever handles and extra electrical outlets. The bathroom features a roll-in shower with a hand-held showerhead, a roll-under sink and grab bars in the shower and around the toilet. A portable shower chair is available upon request. The room also has a VCR, a gas fireplace and a private balcony. There is a one-inch (2.5 cm) lip on the balcony threshold, but it’s do-able for many people.

There is barrier-free access to all of the public areas, including the living room, dining room, public restrooms and the VCR library area. Wine and cheese appetizers are served in the living room every afternoon. Breakfast can be served in the dining area or (for a romantic start to the day) delivered to your room.

Landis shores guest room
The accessible San Francisco room at Landis Shores.

And for that romantic dinner, check out the Historic Miramar Beach Restaurant (131 Mirada Road, Half Moon Bay), located right next door. This prohibition-era roadhouse is billed as the most romantic eatery on the coast, and even though it was built in the last century the restaurant has an accessible entrance and parking.

Just up the coast you’ll find the Moss Beach Distillery (140 Beach Way, Moss Beach), which has great food and features some dramatic views of Half Moon Bay. There is ramp access to the first floor and elevator access to the basement level. Legend has it that the restaurant is haunted by the Blue Lady, a former patron who used to frequent the establishment to visit her piano player boyfriend. What could be romantic than a lovesick ghost?

There are also several scenic beaches in the Half Moon Bay area. Venice Beach and Francis Beach both have beach wheelchairs for loan at the entry stations. Francis Beach also has an accessible boardwalk, which extends into the snowy plover nesting area and connects to the paved coast side trail.

The Pigeon Point Lighthouse (121 Pigeon Point Road Highway 1, Pescadero), located down the road in Pescadero is also worth a visit. Unfortunately, time has taken a toll on old Pigeon Point, and the interior is no longer open to visitors. In December 2001 a section of exterior cornice fell off, so a chain link fence now surrounds the landmark. The good news is you can still wander the grounds.

An accessible boardwalk surrounds the lighthouse and leads out to an oceanfront deck. Here you can get a great view of the lighthouse and the ocean. Parking can get a bit tight, as there are only a few spaces and no designated accessible spaces. Most of the time it’s not too busy, so it’s really not a problem.

Visitors Center
The accessible Visitors Center at Año Nuevo State Reserve.

Down at the south end of the county, Año Nuevo State Reserve (New Year’s Creek Drive, Pescadero) offers some unusual and accessible wildlife viewing opportunities. In fact, winter is prime time to see the migratory Elephant Seals. During this time naturalists offer guided walks to allow visitors the opportunity to view the seals in their native habitat. The four-mile (6.4 km) walks are not at all accessible as they traverse over sand dunes and uneven terrain; however an alternative tour is available.

Wheelchair-users are transported in an accessible-van to a boardwalk viewing area. A naturalist guide accompanies visitors, and friends and family members are also allowed to join the tour. Reservations are required and the cost is US$ 4 per person.

The bottom line is, the romance of the California Coast is hard to beat, so make plans now for your own romantic Valentine’s Day coastal getaway.

If You Go

Half Moon Bay Coastside Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau

San Mateo County CVB

Beach House


Landis Shores


Miramar Beach Restaurant


Moss Beach Distillery


Francis Beach


Año Nuevo State Reserve

650-879-2033 (reservations for accessible tour)