This part of the year – the middle of September – the beginning of October, always trigger the romantic part of me. I want to wear knit sweaters and hats, boots and warm jackets. I start to love everything brown, yellow, and orange colors again. These weeks add dozens of pictures of trees turning yellow and bright leaves.
The only problem is Central California does fall in the most boring form. As a person who grew up in Europe and had a normal fall with foliage and rains and cold morning, I’m trying to find ways how to get this sweet scent of the fall back in my California days: from trips in Sierras and Europe (ouch) to delightful weekend trips down the coast to get the touch of the fall on the farms.
And if Halfmoon Bay became pumpkin (and automatically, local fall) capital, and those attract crowds, I tend to visit places a bit away from the town.
Below is the list of our favorite farm stops between San Gregorio and Monterey – some are very popular, other less.
It’s probably the most popular place in the list (I mean in between Sept 23rd and Oct 31th). And not without reason: extensive selections of pumpkins of all sizes and colors, the maze, hayrides, ponies and tractors – all things October and Halloween.
Tip: to avoid crowds visit early in the season – like mid-September or during the weekdays. They open all days of the week and from the very beginning of September.
Here is their site, check it for prices and updates.
Harley Farm is one of the places we visit all year long. It was well advertised in the media, so during high season, the parking could be full.
We stop there for all things goat (I love goat cheese), honey and locally made goods; and of course to pet animals. They also have farm tours and sooo good farm dinner!
They open Friday to Sunday, from 11 am to 4 pm. Here is their site.
R&R Fresh Farm
The next place is the less-known gem of Pescadero. R&R is our go-to place for duck eggs, blackberries, and honey.
They open all days of the week till 6 pm. Here is their site.
And while you’re in Pescadero is an excellent idea to stop for the fresh bread, or sandwich or wine for your further trip. And Arcangeli Grocery is an excellent place for it. They have their own garlic and artichoke bread, and so many tasty things to try.
Their site has all details, and oh, you can buy their bread online!
Swanton Pacific Ranch
One of my top favorites in the list. A bit detour from the Highway 1, and you are surrounded by the CalPoly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch.
I found them four years ago, they had a pre-Halloween event with train ride and pumpkins u-pick. From that day, we are frequent visitors. My favorite is their apple field that is open for pick up from Labor Day till the end of the harvest.
Also check their event calendar for Ranch Day. Here is their site.
Swanton Berry Farm
Swanton Berry Farm became our all seasons a must-stop on Highway 1, either for their hot soup and pies, or for early strawberries, or for rhubarb and artichokes, or for a chess game. Their strawberries u-pick fields could be crowded. My preference is their Coastways ranch: it’s less known and not visible from the road, so you will get all your quit strawberry joy with limited noise from the car traffic.
Another seasonal stop in the list. The farm is closed most of the year and opens its gates generally after the second week of September. I love their pumpkins selections. Ask them about their recommendations if you will cook your pumpkin.
They open all week round during the season. Check their website for more information.
For the next two stops, you need to drive up to Santa Cruz mountains.
Skyline Chestnuts is not the regular farm, and you could pick up not a regular fruit/vegetable there but chestnut (hm, it’s in the name!)
They usually open in mid-October for a few weeks. They give you gloves and a bucket. You should pick the ripped nuts – otherwise, you will struggle to peel them.
You can also buy chestnuts there and honey. Check their website or Facebook page for updates.
Not on the coast, and not a farm but definitely can boost your fall mood. Their Felton location is a beautiful place to explore, the redwood train is fun for the whole family. And they have several fantastic fall events every year.
Last year we stopped for moonlight dinner, and had a great time!
Check the events page for upcoming events and trips.
I love freshly pressed juice from Clearview Orchards. The hilly farm is open from the beginning of September to the end of October.
They also have a farm stand and an array of baked goods. Could be crowded due to the proximity to Santa Cruz.
Check their site for updates.
The last stop is in the artichoke capital. It’s far from Santa Cruz but worth the visit! Pezzini Farm is my favorite place to shop for fresh artichokes. We always stop there for fruits and food while en route to Monterey. Their artichoke salsa is always in our fridge!
They open every day of the week up till 6 pm. You can also shop online on their site.