Winter’s rains officially arrived this week—a month early. But you can still recapture a taste of our lost Indian summer in one Northern California’s great autumn traditions: a pumpkin-shopping trip to Half Moon Bay. Farmers up and down the San Mateo Coast are competing for your attention, with elaborate corn mazes, towering scarecrows, and giant stacks of the biggest squashes you may ever see.
But there’s more here than pumpkins: the Bay Area’s agricultural capital is also flower central. Local florists come here to fill their trucks, and you should too. The garden stores are fabulous. You’ll be amazed at the array of plants you can pick up during an afternoon jaunt down the coast.
Downtown is good for a stroll, but the shopping is mediocre—unless you like to buy Christmas ornaments in the off-season. The real money shots lie along the coast. A series of state beaches surrounds the town, with high bluffs, rocky coves, and long sandy shores. Some of them are jaw-droppingly beautiful, the ideal backdrop for a horseback ride or game of golf. Too much work? Spend an afternoon building sandcastles, or oohing and ahhing over critter-packed tide pools.
For more details on the surrounding area, check out our San Mateo Coast guide.
- Snap pix of the kids frolicking in a giant pumpkin patch.
- Play golf high above the crashing surf.
- Kayak protected bays and spot zillions of birds.
- Barge the dunes to Mavericks, site of the famous surfing competition.
- Get far away from the city without the long drive.
- 45 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Limited culinary landscape; eat simple.
- Lackluster nightlife; plan to catch up on your DVD viewing.