Revised by the CVB from an article originally published by Megan Eileen McDonough
Fall is arguably the best season to visit San Mateo County/Silicon Valley. From a sea of orange pumpkin patches and farms to farm-to-table fare, there are countless ways to experience autumn in the Best of the San Francisco Bay Area. Festivals are a great way to indulge in all your favorite pumpkin-flavored sweet treats, while a spa treatment is the ultimate stress blaster. Whatever your interest, here are five reasons to start planning your fall getaway.
1. Pumpkin Patches & Farms
Here is where the fun begins. Arata’s Pumpkin Farm features a two-acre labyrinth hay maze and haunted barn, which makes it a great destination for children. The farm spans six acres and also features a petting zoo and children’s train rides. Children also gravitate toward Lemos Farm's Pony Rides. The animals are gentle and parents can lead the ponies around the arena if they choose. You may also visit Farmer John's Pumpkin Farm to see how a real local farmer grows 60 varieties of pumpkins and, of course, for a tractor ride.
2. Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay
The 47th Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival is back! This year, the dates are October 14-15; with events running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. There will be enormous pumpkins on display, live entertainment, carving stations, the Great Pumpkin Parade, a haunted house, plus several harvest-inspired crafts and plenty of food. Festival-goers may also watch Farmer Mike sculpt a 1,200-pound pumpkin into a work of art. When you get hungry, sample some sweet treats like pumpkin-flavored pancakes. Come a week early and attend the 44th Annual World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off on October 9th. Superstar grower Cindy Tobeck won last year’s Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off with her ginormous, 1,910-pound pumpkin.
First up in the lineup is Oktoberfest Downtown Redwood City, starting Thursday, September 21 and ending on Sunday, September 24. In true style, this celebration is complete with over 1,100 feet of "family style" bench seating, lots of merriment, music, dancing, contests, cold beer and delicious eats. Make sure to buy your tickets early! Need more Oktoberfest? The Oktoberfest in Pacifica takes place the following weekend on Saturday, September 30th from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Sharp Park Golf Course. This event is put together by the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce and will feature authentic German food and beer, live Polka music, costumes, raffles and much more. To end the Oktoberfest season, we have Peninsula Oktoberfest at the Hiller Aviation Museum on Saturday, October 14th. The event will go from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., which marks the first time this event will be held at night. The Beer Meister will arrive at 5:10 p.m. for the tapping of the first keg, and the museum will be open throughout the event!
4. Spa Treatments
With all of this fall fun, you’re bound to need a spa break, right? If you happen to be staying at The Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, make sure to head to their spa and experience their signature pumpkin facial. The Pumpkin Experience Package is a 90-minute treatment that uses a nourishing pumpkin enzyme masque that leaves skin feeling super smooth, hydrated and plump. The Oceano Hotel & Spa also offers a variety of pumpkin-inspired treatments such as their HMB Pumpkin Wrap, which includes a full body scrub, warm pumpkin mask and orange blossom massage that promotes circulation and relieves muscle aches. Don’t have time for a spa stop? You can bring the pumpkin pampering home with you by going to Route One Pumpkins’ website or visiting them at the farmers market. All of their products are hand-made with pumpkin seed oils and extracts, in combination with other organic vegetable oils and essential oils. We highly recommend the Decadent Pumpkin Pie Soap or the Coastal Lavender Soap. Use the promo code “Pumpkins” at checkout and receive a 15% discount on any item through October 18th!
5. Make Your Own Glass Pumpkin
Feeling crafty? Then pay a visit to Half Moon Bay Art Glass and take a pumpkin-themed glass-making class! For the beginner Pumpkin Class, choose a mini 2" pumpkin or a 4-5" one and pay accordingly. Minis cost $120 compared to $180 for the larger size. Classes are usually held on weekends and last around two hours depending on the number of students. You'll get lots of individual attention from an artist, as classes host a maximum of six people. For something a little less intensive, consider booking the pumpkin glass blowing and wine tasting.