The Best Fall Festivals in the Bay Area (and Beyond)

Good gourd, that's a lot of pumpkins.
Good gourd, that's a lot of pumpkins. Helena Price/Flickr
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In the San Francisco Bay Area, the next few weeks are packed full of festivals that highlight some of the best of fall: beer, pumpkins, and mushroom foraging—by horseback, kayak, and even mountain bike. Here, RootsRated gives you the insider scoop on the best fall festivals in the Bay Area and beyond.

1. Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Fest, Oct. 18-19

Some serious carving on display at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival.
Some serious carving on display at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival. Sarah Murray/Flickr

The gourd-crazed group behind this popular festival was celebrating everything pumpkin long before Starbucks made it trendy. Every October, the self-described World Pumpkin Capital bursts into life as thousands of visitors come to the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival to marvel over carvers creating amazing pumpkin artwork, as well as to enjoy pumpkin beer and pick out their own pumpkin from one of the many patches. Crowds and traffic can be thick, so get an early start if you're driving. Or, play hooky on Monday, Oct. 20 to watch as pumpkin growers compete for $30,000 in prize money for the World Champion Pumpkin Weigh-Off; the current record is 2,096.6 pounds.

2. Mendocino Mushroom, Wine & Beer Festival, Nov. 7-16

Learn the finer points of fungi foraging at the Mendocino Mushroom, Wine & Beer Festival.
Learn the finer points of fungi foraging at the Mendocino Mushroom, Wine & Beer Festival. Visit Mendocino

If you're mad for mushrooms, make your way up the coast to this fungi-and-food fest . Mendocino County is home to more than 3,000 varieties of mushroomS, 500 of which you'll have the chance to sample and pick during this week-plus of tastings, dinners, and outdoorsy activities. Jump into the hunt for the biggest mushroom, paddle along the Big River and keep an eye out for fungi along the riverbanks, or saddle up on a horse or mountain bike for some high-adrenaline foraging.

3. Campbell Oktoberfest, Oct. 18

Beer and bratwurst at the Campbell Oktoberfest.
Beer and bratwurst at the Campbell Oktoberfest. Luiz Eduardo/Flickr

If you didn’t get your fill of schnitzel and beer at any of the earlier Oktoberfest events around the Bay Area, you’re in luck: the town of Campbell, near Los Gatos, is ready to fill your stein. Bonus: The festival also features a 5K and a newly added 10K , which take place on the popular Los Gatos Nature Trail—the perfect chance to say you ran a race wearing lederhosen.

4. Hopland Passport

Milano is one of more than a dozen Hopland-area wineries pouring in Hopland Passport.
Milano is one of more than a dozen Hopland-area wineries pouring in Hopland Passport. Ben Brown/Flickr

The town for which it’s named is indeed reflective of that essential ingredient in beer, but this popular festival is all about the wine, including barrel tastings, tours and all sorts of other grape-y goodness. For the 23 rd annual Hopland Passport , more than a dozen Mendocino-area wineries will be pouring, accompanied by art exhibits and live music. If, after all that sipping, you’re craving a beer, stop by Sip! Mendocino , an outstanding wine shop that also serves up local suds.

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