Escapes: An orange-colored extravaganza in Half Moon Bay


Pumpkins and more pumpkins

With rolling fields of pick-your-own pumpkin patches, Half Moon Bay feels impossibly orange during harvest season.

Flock to the seaside town for the 43rd annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 19 and 20 to revel in all things gourd. Highlights include a giant pumpkin weigh-off, a pumpkin parade marshaled by former San Francisco Giant J.T. Snow, the world’s largest pumpkin sculpture and its creator, whimsical pumpkin carvings, and more than 3,000 tons of pumpkins for picking.

Don’t forget the battle of the bands, the zip-line, the pie-eating contests, the haunted house and the long menu of pumpkin-centric food and beverages. Pumpkin churros? Of course. Pumpkin beer? Obviously. Pumpkin margaritas? Yes, even pumpkin margaritas.

The free festival lasts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Main Street between Miramontes Street and Spruce Street in Half Moon Bay. For more information, visit


Autumn lights and radiant art

What: A glowing garden party with electric fireflies, tiki torches, fire-spewing flowers, with music and sound installations by local artists. Attendees are encouraged to come in their most bizarre illuminated attire.

When: 6-10 p.m. Oct. 18-19

Where: The Gardens at Lake Merritt, 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland

Cost: $25 general, $12 children, and $50 adult VIP, which includes free beer and wine tastes. All tickets are for single days and must be purchased in advance.



Harvest brew festival

What: More than 50 beers from more than 40 breweries are the focus of the 10th annual Mountain Harvest Festival. Participating breweries include Bison Beer, Rogue Ales, North Coast Brewing and Sierra Nevada.

When: 1-5 p.m. Oct. 19

Where: Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds, 204 Fairgrounds Road, Quincy

Cost: $35 general admission, $40 at the gate, $15 for non-tasters



Prickly pear tasting

What: Yum, cactus! Sample palm, dragon and other spiny fruit on a tour through a 2.5-acre succulent garden.

When: 1-2:30 p.m., Oct. 19

Where: The Ruth Bancroft Garden at 1552 Bancroft Road, Walnut Creek

Cost: $20, register by calling (925) 944-9352



Pet expo

What: Bring your dog, bird or lizard to the first annual Northern California Pet Expo for a full day of training demonstrations, discounted vaccinations, micro-chipping, free nail trims and a mega-adoption center with more than 350 pets looking for a home.

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 19

Where: Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa

Cost: Free




What: Missed out on the real deal in Munich? Steins of beer can still be guzzled at an Oktoberfest spin-off in downtown Campbell. Along with live entertainment, expect typical German fare, such as bratwurst, sauerkraut and pretzels.

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 19, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 20

Where: Campbell Avenue from Third Street to Railway Avenue, Campbell

Cost: Free


— Janelle Bitker