Camp at Francis

Camp at Francis Beach in Half Moon Bay

Bluff-top camping with easy beach access? You're not in SoCal. You're in Half Moon Bay's newly reopened Francis Beach Campground. The campground powered up last month, with electric hookups added to 40 of its 52 sites. Tents can be pitched at all the sites. Among the most popular: Sites 36, 37, and 38 are set atop a dazzling—but exposed—seaside bluff carpeted in fuchsia ice plant. You'll get panoramic ocean views and lovely sunsets, but you'll also get seaside wind on occasion, which can be chilling—so bring warm layers and a windbreaker. Ten sites offer ocean views and electric hook-ups. For an option that doesn't require a reservation, the campground also has a hike- and bike-in area, set in a large grassy communal area with picnic tables and nearby showers. You can pitch a tent for one night only, for just $7. The caveat: Instead of being able to park in the lot for the campground, you'll have to park in surrounding neighborhoods and then walk (or bike) in.

BONUS HIKES: Spend the day strolling through Bluff Top Coastal Park and along the Bluff Top Trail, heading south on a 0.75-mile multi-use path that connects the campground to dog-friendly Poplar Beach, with views of the towering Mavericks surf to the north. For some of the best bird watching in the county, continue south from Poplar onto the Bird Trail at Wavecrest—a 0.33-mile extension through the most important site on the San Mateo Coast for wintering raptors, along with white-tailed kites, purple finches, barn owls, and Savannah sparrows. Watch your head: Blue herons and red-tailed hawks are known to swoop down onto fences and benches!

The campground is located at the end of Kelly Ave. off Hwy. 1 in Half Moon Bay. Tent sites can be reserved  and start at $35/night. Hike- and bike-in camping is $7, however you cannot park in lot for the campground. Day parking is also available for $10 at any of the beach trailheads. Francis Beach Campground and trails are dog-friendly, but no dogs allowed on beaches, with the exception of Poplar Beach, which is dog-friendly! 

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