While San Mateo County/Silicon Valley boasts beautiful weather year-round, fall is arguably the best season to visit. From patches and farms to farm-to-table fare, there are countless ways to experience autumn in California. 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 seven reasons to start planning your fall getaway.
1. Sea of Orange
If you're visiting San Mateo County/Silicon Valley during the fall, get ready to see lots and lots of pumpkins along the Half Moon Bay Coastline. Commonly referred to as "the pumpkin capital of the world," the region produces around 3,000 tons of pumpkins each year. The bright orange pumpkins blend in nicely with other vibrant foliage, making autumn look more colorful than normal. If dining locally, have your pick of farm-to-table pumpkin-inspired fare like pumpkin risotto and pumpkin cheesecake along with pumpkin beer on tap.
2. Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay
The 45th annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival is back! This year, the dates are October 17-18, with events running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. There will be enormous pumpkins on display, live entertainment, the Great Pumpkin Parade and 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.
3. More Pumpkin Fun
The pumpkin fun doesn’t end there. Kids really love the Hay Maze and Haunted House at Arata Pumpkin Farm and for good reason. The farm spans six acres, with two acres dedicated to its Minotaur's Labyrinth Hay Maze. 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. Finally, stop by Farmer John's Pumpkin Farm to see how a real local farmer grows 60 varieties of pumpkins and, of course, for a tractor ride.
4. Make Your Own Glass Pumpkin at Half Moon Bay Art Glass
Feeling crafty? Then 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.
5. Pumpkin Beer at Half Moon Bay Brewing company
There’s nothing like an ice-cold beer to cool you off after an outdoor hike and Half Moon Bay Brewing Company has plenty of options. In fact, they are hosting their very own Harvest Pumpkin Dinner on October 6th, 2015. The set menu includes tapas, soup, salad, choice of an entree and dessert. Along with each course, there is a fall brew pairing. Not in the mood for a full-blown meal? Order a pint of their Pumpkin Harvest Ale, instead! You may also taste the ale at the Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival.
6. Pumpkin Facial at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay
With all of this fall fun, you’re bound to need a spa break, right? For the ultimate in luxury, head straight to the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay for their signature Pumpkin facial. The 90-minute treatment uses a nourishing pumpkin enzyme masque that leaves skin feeling super smooth, hydrated and plump. The plant-based masque is 100% natural and contains vitamins A and C. It is a splurge ($245 on weekdays and $260 on weekends), but we think it's worth it.
7. Oktoberfest Events
October is a busy month for local festivals so try to plan your trip accordingly. The 2nd Annual FOGtoberFest (originally Oktoberfest) takes place on October 24 from noon to 6 p.m. at Sanchez Adobe in Pacifica, put on by the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce. Here you’ll get to sample German food and beer, while enjoying live Polka music, costumes, raffles and much more. Earlier in the month there is also the Oktoberfest at Hiller Aviation Museum, scheduled for October 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Since drinking is involved, attendees must be 21 years of age or older. The museum will be open throughout the event, too.
*See all that San Mateo County/Silicon Valley has to offer and plan your trip now.