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Fall festivities in Half Moon Bay

Contest winner displays his champion gourd at Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival
Contest winner displays his champion gourd at Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Less than an hour’s drive south from San Francisco on Highway 1 along the San Mateo coast, the seaside burg of Half Moon Bay offers myriad attractions for fall travel and, especially, for pumpkin fans. Pack a camera and a windbreaker and enjoy the scenic route through Pacifica, Montara, Moss Beach and El Granada to this coastside gem.

The Third Annual Hand-Blown Art Glass Pumpkin Patch, October 8-10, 10 AM - 5 PM, invites visitors and locals alike to peruse hundreds of colorful glass pumpkins created by local artist Douglass C. Brown. Each pumpkin is one of a kind and available for purchase, so come early to have the pick of the patch. For the first time this year, the first 50 guests on each day will receive a free gift. La Nebbia Winery, 12341 San Mateo Road on Hwy 92, (650) 283-5626.

The 39th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off on October 10, 7AM - 11 AM, draws pumpkin growers and their colossal pumpkins from California, Oregon and Washington to vie for the coveted title of heaviest pumpkin. Last year, Ron Root's giant 1,535-pound Atlantic Giant crushed the formidable field of sixty heavyweight growers under the worldwide media spotlight, taking home the coveted title and $10,210 in prize money (calculated at $6 per pound plus another $1,000 special prize for the biggest pumpkin from California). This year, he'll compete to defend his title. A special $500 prize will be awarded to the "most beautiful pumpkin" as judged by the audience based on color, shape and size. IDES Grounds, 735 Main Street, (650) 726-9652.

On October and 15, the 41st Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival celebrates its bountiful fall harvest with a stellar lineup of rustic pumpkin patches, harvest-inspired crafts, home-style foods, expert pumpkin carvers, the Great Pumpkin Parade, a bone-chilling haunted house, a titanic weigh-off of champion pumpkins, a pie-eating contest, pumpkin carving, costume contests, a pancake breakfast, a five & 10K run/walk and three stages of blockbuster entertainment. Admission is free. Main Street, (650) 726-9652.

For micro-brew aficionados, the, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company will release their famous Mavericks® Pumpkin Harvest Ale this October. Handcrafted on site, this unique beer is available on tap at the restaurant and at the Pumpkin Festival. 390 Capistrano Avenue, Princeton-By-The-Sea, (650) 728-BREW.