Hunt for Treasure or Create Your Own at Oddyssea in Half Moon Bay

While away an afternoon at Oddyssea Outside, a garden of treasures sure to inspire visitors of all ages.

The “Come Create Your Masterpiece” sign outside Half Moon Bay’s Oddyssea Garden beckons in. Intrigued, I enter.

oddysea half moon bay

“Come Create Your Masterpiece”… Oddyssea Outside’s sign beckons in the quaint town of Half Moon Bay. Photo: Sail Couture.

oddyssea half moon bay

Inspiration abounds at Oddyssea. Top left clockwise: Lesley Hansen, owner; a basket of Tillandsia, or air plants; colorful Cladonia Rangiferina or reindeer moss, a terrarium ready to go; magical geodes. Photo: Sail Couture.

The garden is a place of wit and wonder, featuring a myriad of creative activities in addition to the shipwreck of the Oceane, a working “Long Tom” mining flume, and the Cannonball Run—the world’s largest marble run. As I stroll through the garden, the delicate shells, colored sands, and other materials inspire, which is just what owner Lesley Hansen envisioned. “We’re more an experience than a retail shop, it’s interactive,” she told me. “We want people to walk away with something they created.”

There are so many possibilities, but the little terrariums captivate my attention. First stop, the Terrarium Buffet, which Lesley says is their most popular adult activity. The children favor the sand art station.

oddyssea half moon bay

Sea blue sand and moss anchor this teardrop terrarium. Photo: Sail Couture.

oddyssea half moon bay

The semi-precious stone selection of citrine, rose quartz, labradorite, and amethyst catches my eye. Photo: Sail Couture.

I decide to take a minimalist approach and create a little Zen terrain. My beachscape begins with a base of sand. I scan the table for just the right rocks. My eyes settle on the semi-precious stone selection of citrine, rose quartz, labradorite, and amethyst.

I like the grey-green color of the labradorite. The mineral has a reputation for stimulating the imagination and calming the overactive mind. Perfect! Next, I select the perfect Tillandsia, or air plant. These architectural beauties are as easy to care for as they are beautiful. Just place it in bright, indirect sunlight and spray with water two or three times a week.

oddyssea half moon bay

A Tillandsia, or air plant, is the star of my little Zen garden. Labradorite stones, which have a reputation for stimulating the imagination and calming the overactive mind, are the backdrop. Photo: Sail Couture.

I love the elegant simplicity of the terrarium and enjoy moving the rocks and plants around. This little piece of nature is a changeable work of art. I’m thinking of getting a miniature Zen garden rake.

Next, I decide to make a wreath as a gift. I set out to make a sailing-themed wreath after I spy the pretty blue reindeer moss and a pile of whimsical nautical charms, but decide that might be a tad too literal. With Christmas around the corner, some lovely red and white scallop shells inspire me to fashion a red and white holiday wreath with reindeer moss, driftwood, starfish, and charms atop the woven wicker base.

oddyssea half moon bay

My sea-inspired holiday wreath in process. Red and white scallop shells sparked the design. Photo: Sail Couture.

oddyssea half moon bay. Photo: Sail Couture.

The finished product—note the delightful little sailboat charms. Photo: Sail Couture.

The most difficult decision is selecting which charms to use—the variety is huge! The cool Steampunk gears catch my eye, but the nautical ones are so, well, charming. I pick out three little sailboat charms just as Lesley’s assistant walks by and nods her approval. By this time, I’m having way too much fun and decide to organize an activity afternoon at Oddyssea with a group of friends.

Oddyssea is known for their rather legendary parties and team building activities. A trip to Half Moon Bay’s quaint downtown is just a 30-minute drive from San Francisco, and Oddysea also has a mobile operation called Team Building to Go to bring the party to your home or place of business.

oddyssea half moon bay

Ready to break some geodes to discover their exquisite little crystals. Photo: Sail Couture.

oddyssea half moon bay

Geode pieces are the focal point of my lush tropical inlet terrarium. Photo: Sail Couture.

I’ve always admired the beauty of geodes. Those hollow, crystalline rocks are so intriguing to look at, but Oddyssea encourages you to smash one open! Safety glasses and hammer in hand, I take out my aggression on the rock. I’m rewarded with a new collection of tiny crystals. I decide to use some of the pieces as the focal point of another terrarium—this time I take a more-is-more approach. White sand, pebbles, light and dark green reindeer moss, a couple of geode pieces, and an air plant create a lush tropical inlet. I know someone who is going to love this!

oddyssea half moon bay

Artist at work… Young Everest Reeves focuses on creating a gift of sand art for his grandmother while father Adam and grandfather Robert assist. It was heartwarming to see three generations enjoying Oddyssea. Photo: Sail Couture.

oddyssea half moon bay

Inside the Curiosity Shop, clockwise from the top: the Sea Creature Garden, air plant-embellished giant barnacle, and a beetle and terrarium in harmony. Photo: Sail Couture.

Before I leave, I visit the creatively curated curiosity shop next door offering gifts and collectibles from the quirky to the sublime. There is something for everyone: shells, jewelry, books, bug and butterfly collections, puzzles, and half models. All under the watchful eye of Zoltar the Fortune Teller.

Oh, Oddyssea, how you do charm!

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