The town of Half Moon Bay which boasts a population of approximately 13,000 turns into 350,000 over a two day period.   Considering there's only two ways in and out of Half Moon Bay, (Highway One and Highway 92, which are both single lane roads each way), it takes some savvy planning to navigate getting to the festival.

We are staying at Pillar Park RV Park.   It is only 3 miles north of Half Moon Bay right on Highway One.   We got up early and left at 6:45am in our tow vehicle.   We were able to skip all the bumper to bumper traffic going into town and breezed our way downtown in just five minutes.

We took a left on Kelly Street and within two blocks on the left, you will find Our Lady of the Pillar Church.   There are signs and they charge $10 for all day parking.  The folks there are so nice and will show you where to park.  Every spot has easy in and out accessibility and is just a block away from the festival.  Kelly Street is also the location of the 7am pancake breakfast put on by the Half Moon Bay Boys Basketball team.   While they had already fed a couple hundred people, the line moved very quickly and when we arrived, the line was short.    They served up either pumpkin or plain pancakes, sausages and orange juice for $10/person.   Syrup was on each table and everyone was in a jovial mood.   We took our time but were done with breakfast about 7:30am.    When we left, we noticed that the line had grown for the pancakes and by 9pm, the line was 2 blocks long! 

While the festival doesn't officially open until 9am, the early hours are the perfect time to go from booth to booth because you can see everything up close, chat with the artisans who at that time are not getting pulled in all directions, and not worry about bumping into too many people.  

One of the nicer things about being parked so close, is that if you bought something you didn't want to carry around all afternoon, then your car was close.

Costume judging was at 10 and the very entertaining parade with Grand Marshall, former NFL QB Steve Young,  was a 12 noon.   By that time we had sampled pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheese cake, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin mac and cheese and some fabulous Indian food from Ark North Indian Grill.  (Which we highly recommend)  

We had also made the rounds of all the vendors, listened to music and watched Farmer Mike sculpt the 1,480 pound third place pumpkin from Monday's weigh-off grown by  John Hawkley  of  Napa, CA.  By 10:30 or so the crowd had really grown and we later saw that some people had parked over a mile away to get to the festival.

So anyway, to make a long story short, after the parade at 12:30, we were done and able to head home.  The women of the church where we parked were selling homemade tamales, so we picked up several for dinner and headed home.  We were the only ones leaving the parking lot at the time, so that was not an issue.  Since everyone else was either still arriving or at the festival, the road back to Pillar Point was a breeze.   Plus, we got home in time for the USC Trojan game vs the Washington Huskies!

We had a great time and can't wait to go again next year!


Pillar Point RV Park is a first come, first serve park located right on the Pacific ocean.  There are biking paths, beaches, restaurants and activities all within walking distance.  If you intend to stay there during the festival, it it a good idea
to arrive a couple days earlier to assure a spot.  In fact, one of the most fun things to attend is the pumpkin weigh off on the Monday before the weekend.  Growers bring their pumpkins and the tension mounts each year to see who will take home the grand prize!

Non aggressive breeds of dogs are more than welcome at Pillar Point RV Park and they are sure to make a new friend or two.

Dogs are no allowed at the Pumpkin Festival for several reasons....food is being served, not everybody cleans up after their animals, dogs may get in fights with other dogs and the most important reason is that with the overwhelming number of people and some in frightening costumes, real pet lovers don't want their animals to be frightened or trampled on accidentally.

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