One perfect day in Half Moon Bay

Get your garden on in this Northern California town

Alena Jean Flower Shop and Nursery

Visit Alena Jean Flower Shop & Nursery for garden necessities and unique accessories like a garden gnome with a hidden key compartment.

David Fenton

Half Moon Bay Nursery

Half Moon Bay Nursery carries everything you could ever need to kick-start your spring gardening.

David Fenton

Nest Gallery

Nest Gallery stocks glass marbles, broken pottery, and tumbled sea glass to use as mulch for potted plants.

David Fenton

Sun Studios Statuary

Find the perfect fountain for your garden at Sun Studios Statuary.

David Fenton

Why go now?: Purple ceanothus, bright red New Zealand Christmas tree--it's like the whole town goes high-def in the spring.

Why plants love it: The fog. It keeps the coastal valley from getting too hot or cold.

Why surfers love it: The waves. The best board jockeys in the world come for breakers bigger than your house.

Why the rest of us love it: The small ag-town atmosphere, replete with road-side farmstands and some of the best nurseries in the Bay Area.

Sweet April deal: Baskets of plump strawberries, now in season, at Andreotti Family Farm (329 Kelly Ave., 650/879-1032) or pick your own at Phipps Country Store and Farm ( 2700 Pescadero Rd., Pescadero, 650/879-1032).

Glazed container heaven: Hundreds come in all shapes and sizes at Fabbri Home & Garden (501 San Mateo Rd., 650/712-1050). 

Street smarts: Forget trying to park on busy Main Street, where there's a two-hour limit. Instead, grab a spot on one of the side streets downtown.

On the hunt for a garden gnome: Housed in a refurbished 135-year old barn, Alena Jean Flower Shop & Nursery is a funky alternative to the big-box garden stores. Sure, it carries the usual suspects like sweet peas and pint-size perennials--all well cared for. But the shop also has the unusual, like a garden gnome with a secret compartment for hiding house keys. A gazebo hidden behind the nursery has a mini train chugging around it. 340 Purissima St., 650/726-3662. 

 

The mothership of Peninsula nurseries: Spread over 3 acres, Half Moon Bay Nursery has everything you could possibly need to kick off your spring gardening. Walk through a network of greenhouses, each with a different botanical theme: perennials, succulents, tropicals. Forgot to plant spring bulbs last fall? They've got you covered, with rows of potted callas and freesias, all blooming and ready for the hatchback. 1191 San Mateo Rd., 650/726-5392.

50 ways to fill a pot: Five miles north of downtown, Nest Gallery stocks glass marbles, broken pottery, and tumbled sea glass in buckets and barrels among fishnet floats and aged trellises. Fill a bag of the colorful nuggets to use as mulch for potted plants. 131 California Ave., 650/563-9139

The fountain den: Sun Studios Statuary is loud. As in the-roar-of-500-fountains-gurgling-in-unison loud. Asian fountains, tiered Italiante gushers, Buddha birdbaths--if it spews water, it's here. But if your backyard is already awash in decorative dribblers, pick up a Mexican star lantern, perfect for the patio. 12001 San Mateo Rd., 650/172-7731.

Make it a weekend: With a garden of 200 well-manicured rose bushes all screaming for your attention, it's a wonder anyone makes it inside the Mill Rose Inn. The six-room B&B charms with genteel service, complimentary wine and cheese, and a private hot tub, which sits sheltered in a tropical flower-filled gazebo. From $230; millroseinn.com

3 more reasons to hug the coast

Pasta Moon Ristorante & Bar is a Main Street mainstay whose locally sourced ingredients come together in such standout dishes as seared scallops with baby greens, avocado, mango, and cucumbers. $$; 315 Main St.; 650/726-5125.

Know this: If you stop by the San Benito House Deli around noon, you will wait in line. The sandwiches are that good. Why? It's all about the homemade bread. Get a sammy on thick-sliced olive-walnut bread, take it to the leafy courtyard out back, and eavesdrop on the locals. $; 356 Main St.; 650/726-3425.

In this new location, the Half Moon Bay Wine & Cheese Company carries a variety of boutique bottles, including more than 120 California and Oregon Pinot Noirs. Feeling spendy? Ask to see the big-sticker Bordeaux in the "jewel bin." Also on hand: cheeses, olive oils, and picnic baskets. 421 Main St.; 650/726-1520.

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http://www.sunset.com/travel/california/half-moon-bay-day-trip-00418000071419/