My favorite season is Autumn and it has a great deal to do with pumpkins. I love pumpkins- the smell, the color, the taste. Ironically, one of my favorite local getaways just so happens to be the pumpkin capital of the world. During the entire month of October, you will find me soaking in all things pumpkin in Half Moon Bay, California. From the renowned annual Art & Pumpkin Festival to farm fresh, pumpkin-inspired cuisine and spa treatments, this gorgeous coastal area pays homage to their beloved gourd.
Widely recognized as the pumpkin capital of the world, Half Moon Bay, CA shows its true colors during the fall season. A beautiful coastal town located approximately 35 minutes south of San Francisco, the Half Moon Bay Coastside produces more than 3,000 tons of pumpkins every year by local growers. Visitors during this season will find themselves surrounded by fields rich with brilliant orange-pick-your-own-pumpkins and natural beautiful fall colors. Pumpkin beer is on tap, homemade pumpkin entrees and desserts are on the menu and specialty pumpkin spa experiences offer the perfect seasonal indulgence.
Below is a summary of pumpkin-related events, dining experiences, spa treatments and more along the Half Moon Bay Coastside. To plan a trip, visit www.visithalfmoonbay.org and also download iCoastside to access information on the region’s cozy inns and luxury coastal resorts, renowned restaurants, farm visits, golfing, wine tasting, fishing, whale watching, surfing and much more.
Special Note: All locations are in Half Moon Bay unless otherwise noted.
- EVENTS -
Fourth Annual Hand-Blown Art Glass Pumpkin Patch
October 11-14, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Half Moon Bay Art Glass will transform the grounds of La Nebbia Winery into a glistening glass pumpkin patch featuring the work of artist and glass blower Douglass C. Brown. This artistic installation will feature over 1,000 one-of-a-kind glass pumpkins available for purchase, each one personally handcrafted by Brown, who works year round to create this spectacular display.
In addition to browsing this amazing pumpkin patch, visitors will be able to enjoy a range of other activities over the weekend and there will be 50 free gifts given away each day. La Nebbia Winery will be open for guests to partake in wine tasting and to purchase bottles of wine. Bocce ball courts will offer fun for everyone, and Brown will provide hot glass demonstrations for visitors to get a firsthand look at how the pumpkins are created. La Nebbia Winery, 12341 San Mateo Road on Hwy 92, (650) 283-5626, www.hmbartglass.com
40th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off
October 14, 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Pumpkin growers from California, Oregon and Washington descend upon Half Moon Bay with their colossal pumpkins to vie for the coveted title of heaviest pumpkin. Last year, superstar grower Thad Starr, a 45-year-old stay-at-home dad from Pleasant Hill, OR, cemented his growing legend by setting a new California State record with his ginormous 1,775-pound Atlantic Giant that dominated the contest on a picture-perfect morning in this west coast pumpkin mecca. Thad took the coveted title and big prize money ($6 per pound), and the new California state record. This year, he’ll compete to defend his title. In a pay-by-the-pound system, the winners receive $6 per pound for the champion pumpkin. A special $500 prize will be awarded to the "most beautiful pumpkin" as judged by the audience based on color, shape and size. There is currently a $25,000 prize up for grabs if anyone brings in a new world record in Half Moon Bay. The race is on! IDES Grounds, 735 Main Street, (650) 726-9652,www.miramarevents.com Media Contact: Tim Beeman, (650) 726-3491, email@example.com.
Pumpkins Take Over the Pescadero Farmers Market
October 17, 3 – 7 p.m.
Local favorite, Pescadero Farmer’s Market plays host to the Pescadero Pumpkin Festival on Thursday, October 17th. Festival goers will be able to purchase Pescadero-grown pumpkins while enjoying games, light refreshments and more. 251 Stage Road, Pescadero, (650) 879-1691, www.pescaderogrown.org.
43rd Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival
October 19 & 20, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
The World Pumpkin Capital of Half Moon Bay celebrates its bountiful fall harvest with a fantastic lineup of rustic pumpkin patches, harvest-inspired crafts, home-style foods, expert pumpkin carvers, the Great Pumpkin Parade, a thrilling haunted house, a special display of titanic weigh-off champion pumpkins, pie-eating contest, pumpkin carving, costume contests, a pancake breakfast, a five & 10K run/walk and three stages with blockbuster entertainment. With so much to see and do, visitors can use iPumpkin, the official mobile application of the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, to navigate their way through the festival. Users of Apple and Android devices can download the mobile app for free. Returning for the second year is the “Made on the Coast” locals’ block, which will feature original art of all mediums created by local artists plus the addition of a live music stage, authors, book signings and a haiku contest on Main Street between Kelly and Mill streets on Sunday. Admission is free. Main Street, (650) 726-9652,www.miramarevents.com. Media Contact: Tim Beeman, (650) 726-3491, firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 19 & 20, 7am – 11am
There is no better way to kick off the Pumpkin Festival fun than with a pancake breakfast! Come out to Mac Dutra Park for delicious buttermilk and pumpkin pancakes that are being served up as a fundraiser by the Half Moon Bay High School Basketball Teams. Cost of breakfast is only $10 and includes all-you-can-eat pancakes, coffee, orange juice and sausages. For a small donation patrons will receive the famous, secret recipe for the fabulous Pumpkin pancakes! Mac Dutra Park located at Kelly Street & Main Street, Half Moon Bay.
October 20, 8 a.m.
Join in the fun with the Pumpkin run! Run or walk a 5k course or take on a 10k. Kids can sign up too with the “Kid’s Fun Run.” Each runner will receive a t-shirt, a pumpkin and breakfast. The run starts and ends at Hatch Elementary School, 490 Miramontes Road. Registration for adults is $30 and kids under 12 and seniors over 65 are $20. To register go to www.seniorcoastsiders.org or www.active.com.
11th Annual Haunted Hostel Halloween
Spend the evening with ghosts, goblins and ghouls as the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel hosts the 11th Annual Haunted Hostel Halloween. This spooky event is full of fun games, crafts and live entertainment, and offers the perfect opportunity to bring the whole family along for a night of fun. Take part in Halloween themed crafts and activities, while checking out the creative costumes. Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, 16th Street & Highway 1, Montara, (650) 728-7177.
Veteran’s Glassblowing Day
In celebration of Veteran’s Day, Half Moon Bay Art Glass will provide United States veterans with the opportunity to try the craft of glassblowing for free with the intentions of developing a marketable skill, building joy through artistic expression, and creating community through an annual national event. Call for class times and to register. 12341-1 San Mateo Road (Hwy 92), Half Moon Bay, (650) 283-5626, www.hmbartglass.com.
Inaugural Harvest Dinner
Celebrating the abundance of the outstanding farms, creameries and seafood on the San Mateo County coast, the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company is excited to announce their inaugural Harvest Dinner. This four-course feast prepared by Executive Chef Gaston Alfaro will include a local specialty in every course paired in palate-pleasing harmony with Brewmaster James Costa’s hand-crafted beer. Some of the local specialties that will be featured include Harley Farms goat cheese, Dungeness Crab, Sugar Pie pumpkins and free-range Markegard meats. In keeping with the Brewing Company’s ongoing philanthropic initiatives, a portion of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to a Coastside charity. Reservations required as space is limited to 40 people; tickets are available for purchase at http://hmbbrewingco.inticketing.com/events/348018. 390 Capistrano Rd., (650) 728-2739, www.hmbbrewingco.com. Media Contact: Caitlin Sandberg (530) 400-9207, email@example.com.
- LOCAL RICHES -
Pick-Your-Own Pumpkin Patches
An autumn visit to the pumpkin fields around Half Moon Bay is a popular annual tradition for many families. Spread out along Highway 92 and Cabrillo Highway (Rt. 1), visitors will discover pumpkins in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes in beautiful rural settings. Below is a selection of local pumpkin farms open to visitors:
• 4 C’s Pumpkin Patch – make a day of it at this pumpkin farm, where kids can venture through rows of pumpkins while also enjoying pony rides, train rides, slides and a petting zoo. 12371 San Mateo Road, (650) 726-9614.
• A. Repetto Nursery- at this pumpkin patch, visitors can choose from more than 30 different pumpkin varieties, meander through a corn maze and go for a hayride. 12331 San Mateo Road, (650) 726-6414.
• Andreotti Family Farm- after picking out a pumpkin, visitors can wander through the corn maze, eat candied apples and check out the animals on display. 329 Kelly Avenue, (650) 726-9151.
• Arata Pumpkin Farm – in addition to pumpkins, this family-friendly farm features pony rides, a haunted barn, a petting zoo, a hay maze and more. 185 Verde Road, (650) 726-7548, www.aratapumpkinfarm.com.
• Bob's Pumpkin Farm – visitors will find a large selection of pumpkins, a picnic area, farm animals, a corn maze and a hay pyramid. Cabrillo Highway (Hwy. 1), five miles south of Half Moon Bay, (650) 726-4567.
• Farmer John’s Pumpkin Farm - life-long farmers Farmer John and his wife Eda grow more than 60 varieties of pumpkins and squash. Visitors can also check out an authentic Native American Teepee and take a ride on a vintage tractor. 850 North Cabrillo Highway, (650) 726-4980, www.farmerjohnspumpkins.com.
• Lemos Family Farm - this family farm specializes in year-round activities for children such as pony rides, tractor/train rides, petting zoo and more. 12320 San Mateo Road, (650) 726-2342, www.lemosfarm.com.
• Muzzi’s Ranch Pumpkin Patch ¬– tucked in the hills, families can have fun picking pumpkins, climbing stacks of hay and finding their way through a corn maze at this farm. 950 La Honda Road, San Gregorio, CA 94074
• Pastorino Gifts & Plants – this family-run farm boasts hayrides, train rides, ponies, pet and feed farm animals, giant slides, and on the weekends there’s a haunted house and face painting. 12391 San Mateo Road, (650) 726-6440, www.pastorinofarms.com.
• Pumpkin Depot – visitors to this pumpkin farm will find some of the largest pumpkins in Half Moon Bay, plus other gourds, corn stalks and miniature bales of straw. 2710 N. Cabrillo Highway, (650) 400-0376, www.pumpkindepot.com.
Blow Your Own Glass Pumpkin
Create an autumn masterpiece to treasure for years when you blow your very own hot glass pumpkin with Half Moon Bay Art Glass! Professional glass blowers are on hand to assist students with shaping, blowing and coloring these magnificent 4-5 inch glass pumpkins. The class is designed for beginners, ages 12 and above. Through November, classes are discounted to $79 (normally $160) with password, “tiramisu.” After the pumpkin masterpiece is completed, pieces can be picked up the very next day or shipped to most locations in the United States. 12341-1 San Mateo Road (Hwy 92), Half Moon Bay, (650) 283-5626, www.hmbartglass.com.
Pumpkin Fall Cycle Adventure
Half Moon Bay is home to one of the nation’s most ecologically diverse habitats, and Coastal Elegance Tours offers outdoor adventure-seekers the perfect way to experience this fascinating piece of the coastside. Take a tour with one of Coastal Elegance’s local guides, and pick out a pumpkin from a local pumpkin patch. The eco beach hikes and cycling tours also include complimentary wine tastings at Thomas Fogarty Winery. For more information and reservations, call (650) 712-8456 or visit www.coastalelegancetours.com.
Join Half Moon Bay Coastside Tours on Sunday, October 27 to celebrate pumpkin season with two fun tours:
• South Coast Tour – Enjoy a beautiful drive past coastal pumpkin farms and beaches, plus a serene walk in the silent redwoods on the way to Harley Farms, where guests can sample the finest goat cheese, including Harley Farms’ seasonal special pumpkin fromage blanc. $95, transportation included.
• Downtown Half Moon Bay Tour – Learn about Half Moon Bay history while shopping and enjoying wine on this downtown tour. Participants will start at Barterra Winery for a glass of sparkling wine and an introduction to historic downtown Half Moon Bay. Afterwards, an enriching walking tour of the picturesque downtown allows tour-goers to see pumpkin art from all over the area. This downtown tour ends with more wine tasting. $55, transportation not included.
225 Cabrillo Highway South, (650) 720-7050, www.hmbcoastsidetours.com.
- ACCOMMODATIONS -
Celebrate Pumpkins in Half Moon Bay
The luxuriously appointed New England-style Beach House Hotel is celebrating the pumpkin season in style throughout the month of October. Guests will enjoy pumpkin muffins served each morning with the hotel’s continental breakfast. In addition, festive pumpkin gourds will adorn each room and the front desk will offer complimentary maps to the area’s many pumpkin patches where guests can pick their own pumpkins. For an extra $25, guests can create their own story time for their little ones with a seasonal favorite hardback book (October’s selection features pumpkins), plus a snack and juice, all made for enjoying the season with the family. The special Story Time amenity will continue in November with Thanksgiving and holiday books, as well as books featuring the ocean throughout the year. 4100 North Cabrillo Hwy, (800) 315-9366, www.beachhouse.com. Media Contact: Marje Bennetts, (310) 574-7870, firstname.lastname@example.org.
– CULINARY NEWS –
Autumn Hayloft Dinners
In celebration of the pumpkin season, Harley Farms is opening their charming Victorian hayloft for private autumn farm dinners. These unique locally-sourced candlelit dinners are a rustic and relaxing alternative to traditional company or family parties. Dinners include five courses of farm-cooked cuisine and an interactive tour of the farm for up to 22 guests. 205 North Street, Pescadero, (650) 879-0480, www.harleyfarms.com.
Cooking with Pumpkins
Each Saturday in October, the culinary team at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay presents a seasonal cooking demonstration showcasing creative ways to incorporate pumpkin into a menu. Each class includes an appetizer, main course and dessert and a three-course pumpkin lunch at the Chef’s Table in Navio. Cooking with Pumpkins classes are available Saturday, October 5, 12, 19 and 26 from 11:30am to 1:30pm and are $75 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and classes are limited to 12 attendees. One Miramontes Point Road, (650) 712-7040; www.ritzcarlton.com/hmb. Media Contact: Deanne French, (949) 240-5088, Deanne.French@ritzcarlton.com.
Harvest Ale and Menu Items at HMB Brewing Co.
A beloved destination known for award-winning, handcrafted beer and sustainable coastal cuisine, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company heralds the arrival of the fall season with their famous Pumpkin Harvest Ale and delectable menu offerings. Available from September 25 through November 30, this delicious, handcrafted ale is made with more than 120 pounds of local, roasted sugar pie pumpkins and has a subtle pumpkin pie flavor balanced by a biscuit maltiness. A special Oktoberfest menu, available from September 16 through October 6, boasts German specialty items such as ChickenWienerschnitzel and Potato Pancakes with fresh applesauce. From October 7 – 31, enjoy the “Pumpkin Menu” with decadent Dungeness Crab, pumpkin bisque and desserts including homemade pumpkin pie and gingersnap crust pumpkin cheesecake. 390 Capistrano Rd. (650) 728-2739, www.hmbbrewingco.com. Media Contact: Caitlin Sandberg, (530) 400-9207, email@example.com.
Pumpkin Delights at Princeton Seafood Co.
Visitors in search of the Great Pumpkin, need to look no further than the pumpkin-inspired offerings at Princeton Seafood Co. Known for their casual dining atmosphere, award-winning clam chowder and world-class fish market, Princeton Seafood Co. has a mouth-watering pumpkin menu during the month of October. Patrons can start their dining experience with a delectable vegetarian pumpkin soup with a dollop of sour cream or enjoy the pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin ice cream and of course, the pumpkin-spiced hot tea! 9 Johnson Pier, Pillar Point Harbor, (650) 726-2722, www.princetonseafood.com. Media Contact: Carina Woudenberg, (650) 726-2722, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fine folks at Elegant Cheese Cakes have taken their culinary artistry to the next level with their pumpkin-shaped, pumpkin cheesecakes. Not your traditional cheesecake by any means, this is a spiced hazelnut toffee pumpkin swirl on a shortbread crust enveloped with imported chocolate paper and sculpted as a pumpkin straight from the patch, complete with curly tendrils and leaves. Cheesecakes can be shipped overnight and will arrive in perfect condition. Available now through Christmas. 103 Harvard Ave. #2, (650) 728-2248, www.elegantcheesecakes.com. Media Contact: Susan Morgan, (650) 728-2248, Susan@elegantcheesecakes.com.
Pumpkin Goat Cheese
Now through the holidays, Harley Farms, home to award-winning goat cheese, is offering their special Pumpkin-Spice Fromage Blanc, a low fat, creamy textured cheese available in their cheese shop. They also have a delicious recipe for pumpkin cheesecake available through the holidays, so be sure to ask! 205 North Street, Pescadero, (650) 879-0480, www.harleyfarms.com.
Moonside Bakery and Café
Voted the “Best Bakery in Half Moon Bay,” Moonside Bakery and Café is the place to go for delectable housemade pumpkin goodies. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin parfait, pumpkin cheesecakes, cookies, pound loaf, croissants, bread puddings, French macarons and even pumpkin pancakes abound! 604 Main Street, (650) 726-9070, www.moonsidebakery.com.
Seaside Pumpkin Delights
Sam’s Chowder House, known for fresh, off-the-boat seafood and stunning views of the Pacific, is featuring several pumpkin specialties throughout the month of October including pumpkin gnocchi, served with sweet Maine lobster, brown butter and sage. Also on the menu is delicious pumpkin cheesecake. 4210 North Cabrillo Highway, (650) 712-0245, www.samschowderhouse.com. Media Contact: Julie Shenkman, (650) 726-1005, email@example.com.
The Great Pumpkin Tasting Event
In celebration of the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival, New Leaf Community Markets will offer tastes of pumpkin goodies in every department including pumpkin chai in the Juice Bar, a tasty pumpkin beer in the beer/wine department, special pumpkin bakery treats, pumpkin oil, pumpkin ravioli, and pumpkin jam. This event takes place on October 5 from 12-3 p.m. 150 San Mateo Road, (650) 726-3110, www.newleaf.com.
Pumpkin Pie and Wine
Clos LaChance Winery is offering their Late Harvest Semillon “Nectar,” a delicious white wine featuring rich aromas of orange peels, honey, almonds and apricots. The balance of natural sweetness and acidity of this wine makes it a perfect pair with mouthwatering pumpkin pie. Available for $10 a bottle online or at Clos LaChance Winery. One Hummingbird Lane, San Martin, CA 95046; (408) 686-1050, www.clos.com.
Local favorite, Nano’s Yogurt Shack is dishing up their festive pumpkin yogurt during the month of October. In addition to their delicious yogurt, patrons will also enjoy their pumpkin spiced shakes, pumpkin cream cheese and toasted focaccia bread! 523 Main Street, Half Moon Bay, (650) 726-2182, www.nanosyogurtshack.com.
- SPA & BEAUTY -
Pumpkin Spa Treatments
Throughout the month of October, The Ritz-Carlton Spa is featuring a luxurious 90-minute Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Facial that utilizes a pumpkin enzyme mask. Pumpkins are not only a tasty treat, they also are nourishing to the skin. High in beta carotene and vitamins A and C, the mask leaves the skin smooth, plump and hydrated. Guests will also enjoy a 25 percent savings on the signature pumpkin body treatments. 1 Miramontes Point Road, (650) 712-7000, www.ritzcarlton.com/hmb. Media Contact: Deanne French, (949) 240-5088, Deanne.French@ritzcarlton.com.
- ARTS, CRAFTS & SHOPPING –
The Shops at Harbor Village
This October, Halloween is taking over Harbor Village. All month long, activities and events will keep shoppers engaged including costume and pumpkin carving contests, kids’ jumpers, prizes and more. The “Pumpkins by the Pier” pumpkin patch will also be open seven days a week through October 31, and shoppers will receive exclusive discounts and coupon packages from local business when they buy a pumpkin. 270 Capistrano Road, (888) 606-4862, www.shopharborvillage.com.
Nasturtium Art of Living, known for their art, jewelry and craftwork, is also the place for pumpkin fashion and accessories including "Posh Pumpkins,” one-of-a-kind pumpkins which are made using luxurious velvet and then adorned with real pumpkin stems from local Half Moon Bay farmers. Shoppers will also discover handmade pumpkin earnings, bracelets and necklaces by local artist and co-owner of Nasturtium Art of Living, Simmin. Shoppers will also enjoy the upscale Halloween headbands and accessories. During the month of October, "Dragon Fly" handmade and dyed silk scarves will be on display in beautiful fall pumpkin colors. 440 Capistrano Rd., Princeton by the Sea, (650) 728-5850, www.nasturtiumartofliving.com.
Spooky Crafts at Fog Town Toys
During the month of October, Fog Town Toys' will be offering free spooky craft time for the little ones. Children ages 2-4 are welcome on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and ages 5+ are welcome on Fridays from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. On October 19 and October 20, there will be $1 face painting during the Pumpkin Festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 330 Main Street, (650) 726-4556, www.fogtowntoys.com.
Kids can celebrate the pumpkin season in style at P. Cottontail & Co., featuring adorable pumpkin clothes for boys and girls ranging in age from newborn to size 14. Families will have fun coordinating entire outfits for their kids, with pumpkin tutus, hair clips and bows, socks and tights and even pumpkin costumes. 330 Main Street, (650) 726-0200, www.pcottontail.com.
Terrariums are all the rage, and Oddyssea takes it to a new level with their “scare-rrariums,” available premade or as a kit to assemble in the store or at home. Get into the pumpkin spirit by making one using a beautiful glass pumpkin vase, and fill it up with stunning fall colored plants. For some Halloween fun, add creepy accents such as a decorative skull and other spooky items. 617 Main Street, (650) 440-4555, www.oddyssea.com.
For more information, go to www.visithalfmoonbay.org.