Pumpkin Patches & Bookstores: Half Moon Bay in October

Pumpkin Festival

Whenever I’m in the San Francisco Bay Area, I try to find time for a drive south along Pacific Coast Highway 1, an all-time favorite stretch of road.


Usually, it’s in search of waves or a place along the water to sit and read that I make the trip. But this time, it was for pumpkins.

pumpkinsFound midway between San Francisco and Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay is a quaint, artsy coastside town with a 4-block Main Street and 4 bookstores within a mile radius.

In October, more than half a dozen pumpkin patches await the coastal cruiser. Because autumn in the Bay Area gets those scattered pairs of unusually warm days and the Pacific becomes nothing less than radiant, pumpkin hunters may find sunshine or at least smiles, but likely both.

A friend and I decided to use our little girls as an excuse to visit Pastorino’s in Half Moon Bay and get our annual dose of pumpkin patch goodness. This place, we heard, had not only plenty of pumpkins but pony rides. Who could resist?


It’s true; they’ve got pony rides AND pumpkin pie, to be sure. Pastorino Farms on HWY 92, opened by an Italian immigrant named Enrico, has been in business for over fifty years. Halloween season for them means business. For us, this meant not only pumpkins and pony rides but petting zoo time, bounce house madness, train rides, tractor hay rides, and a barn full of gifts and décor.



goatsEach attraction costs a certain amount of tickets. At $1 a ticket, we purchased a couple dozen. Since there was much to do, we got stuck during lunchtime and ended up buying pretty horrible hot dogs (as the kids let us know). However, for the farm fun that we all enjoyed, it was worth it.




DSC_1146At the end of our three-hour visit, we grabbed a wheelbarrow, filled it with pumpkins of all sizes to take home and added a bouquet of farm fresh alstroemerias for good measure.

It was the perfect day trip to make our 4-year-olds feel like they got to visit the best pumpkin patch ever and make us adults wonder if in our previous lives we had lived on farms (sans rodents because I can’t hang).


hay ride fun

There’s probably no better time to fully experience the world’s pumpkin capitol than at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival taking place this weekend, October 19-20. It’s a two-lane road that gets you there, so to avoid some if not all of the certain traffic I’d go as early as possible.

Check out the Local Books and Authors Booth with book signings on Sunday by local authors, of which there are many. What—it doesn’t surprise you that an artist would want to live in a small farming community with 5 bookstores and surf along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the continental U.S.? Yeah, me neither. Apropos, if you have a surfer in your life, this would be a great opportunity to pick up a copy of Inside Maverick’s because books really do make awesome gifts. And so do pumpkins (at least in October—you’ve got a few weeks yet).



*     43rd Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival, October 19-20. Main Street, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

*     Pastorino Farms Halloween Festivities until October 31, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (pumpkins) 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (attractions)

12391 San Mateo Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

*     Bookstores: Coastside Books (all-around book store), Ocean Books (used books), Bay Book Company (with cigar room), Ink Spell Books (especially for the D & D fans), Harbor Books & Gallery (for gift and coffee table books).


*     Pumpkin Ice Cream, a seasonal delight that I didn’t have the chance to indulge in this time around. Check Main Street.


*     The best chai you’ll ever have in the states at Raman’s Coffee & Chai. He sprinkles the froth with a secret spice blend. I detected coriander and ginger but you may know better. Raman himself is a particular character. Your chai may be the only sweet thing about this stop. So worth it, however.

101 Main St # A, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

About Sam at Reading the Road

Hello, I'm Samantha, author and editor of READINGTHEROAD.COM, a blog journal of travelogues, travel stories, personal essays, articles, reflections, reviews, and poems in which travel and literature intersect.

2 comments on “Pumpkin Patches & Bookstores: Half Moon Bay in October

  1. Nice way to share your knowledge about the world, adquire through your journes, and your pleasent writtings! Thanks for share with us and let us enjoy it.

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