The Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company plies adventurous wine hobbyists of all levels with unexpected selections of world-class wines and cheeses. Visitors can sip, swish, and study the bouquets of some of the store's 60 wines available to taste every day, just a fraction of the more than 800 boutique and specialty wines the store stocks from all over the world, including varietals such as Ca'Rossa nebbiolo ($20) from Italy or Morgan pinot gris ($18) from the Santa Lucia highlands in California. Newly galvanized sippers can pair the more than 120 California and Oregon pinot noirs with the company's selection of artisanal cheeses and gift baskets delectable enough to make a cow weep with joy, or can bring home rare Santa Cruz Mountain wines, including the Clos de la Tech 2006 pinot noir.
Nasturtium Art of Living harnesses and concentrates the artistic spirit of its surroundings, granting visitors the chance to carry away pieces of its vibrant soul. The store's exterior is slathered in hand-painted eponymous flora, which pops vibrantly across a lawn that's often populated with busy, buzzing artists. Walk inside, and start a path toward bedecking blank walls with a gold-leaf Buddha painting on natural wood ($48). In the housewares section, selections include a frosted zipper wine glass ($40) intended to playfully confuse guests with its suggestion that liquids share the same properties as pants. Clever sink strainers ($16.50) capture errant detritus, which falls precariously from vibrant pansy plates ($15–$21) available in an eye-watering array of colors. Perusing guests can also opt to splash crafted verdure into gardens, kitchens, and closet shrines with delicate topiaries ($20–$60), or embellish bright bodies with earrings ($15–$65) and bracelets ($45–$110).
Since 1972, the farmers at Santa's Tree Farm and Village have grown one crop: evergreen trees. Today, they cultivate six species?douglas fir, grand fir, white fir, noble fir, redwood, and monterey pine?on 22 rolling fields spread across 487 acres. They equip visitors with saws, and either send them out to cut their own Christmas trees or come along to train local bears to do it instead. The farm's operators also cultivate holiday cheer?a gift shop stocks handmade wreaths, tree stands, and other decorations ranging from mistletoe to garlands and twinkling baubles. In a central square, performers organize weekend activities such as puppet shows and visits from Santa Claus. A trackless train ferries visitors on tours of the farm as they savor complimentary hot apple cider.
More than 50 years ago, Italian-born Enrico Pastorino and his wife, Lorraine, established Pastorino Farms in the Half Moon Bay region. The farm first operated as a wholesale flower nursery, but it later expanded to include a seasonal pumpkin patch, petting zoo, and gift barn. Today, Enrico and Lorraine’s son Hank—along with the third generation of Pastorinos—maintains the family farm, which still sells plants and flowers year-round. Each October, the farm transforms into a harvest wonderland, replete with a pumpkin patch, hayrides, face painting, and scarecrows modeling the season’s hottest overalls.
Visitors to Tortellini Originali Pasta Company can watch through the kitchen's window wall as cooks fill and fold each piece of pasta by hand, ensuring the freshness of its Italian-inspired dishes. Though the menu might be brief, each dish is crafted to order and packed with savory flavors. Fresh ravioli swell with fillings made with italian sausage, lobster, or duck, enveloped by pasta dough infused with paprika or red or black pepper. A trio of sandwiches ensconce housemade morsels, from the special recipe meatballs to tomato and garlic spreads.
Those who want to take their feast to go can order pasta by the pound at the counter, where a spread of salads and meats wait under glass. Nearby blond wood shelves are lined with imported goods, including olive oil, jarred garlic and capers, and the mozzarella-coated seeds from which pizzas are sprouted.