As the cool breezes begin to blow and daylight hours get shorter, it’s only a matter of time before the talk of pumpkin spice lattes and spooky season begins. If you’re starting to plan your fall fun, make sure you have a visit to the pumpkin patch on your list! The best farms offer tons of fun pumpkin patch activities for the family to enjoy. We’ve compiled a list of our favorites, so have a look and see what’s available near you. You might even be able to include them all on your foliage tour this year!
Enjoy Adventures From Scratch this autumn!
Adventures From Scratch is perfect for any time of year, but the crisp cool days of autumn make these exciting activities extra enjoyable! We’ve got over 50 of them packed into each of our scratch-off adventure books, whether you’re looking for ideas for your family or your next date night. Grab your copy today, and start scratching!
15 Awesome Pumpkin Patch Activities
When you’re ready for some family fun, head to the farm and take advantage of the best pumpkin patch activities. Usually, you’ll pay general admission to the location and have access to each of the fun activities. For smaller crowds, consider paying them a visit on weekdays when there are fewer people. Remember, these spots are only open for a couple of weeks each year during the peak season, so don’t miss out.
If you live in a part of the country that doesn’t get much fall weather, consider packing up the car (with all the essentials for a road trip with kids) and heading to a part of the country that is popular during the autumn season.
1. Get lost in a corn maze.
Cornfields might not sound like a fun place to play, but that just means you’ve probably never experienced a corn maze. It’s fun for the whole family. Farmers plant the corn into a maze and let it grow tall throughout the summer. By the time fall rolls around, the corn is high enough that even adults can get lost in the field.
If you want to start with something a bit easier or accessible for young children, see if they have a hay bale maze. These are fun for toddlers because they offer a bit of a challenge, but you can keep an eye on them as they run through the maze area.
2. Enjoy scenic hayrides.
Wagon rides, or tractor rides, take visitors around the farm. It’s a fun way to take in the scenery of the farm and kids love it. You’ll grab a seat on a bench or maybe a pile of straw bales and the rides are usually around 15 minutes. The open-air ride allows you to take photos and enjoy the fresh air. Plus, most kids are huge fans of tractors and machines that they don’t get to see every day.
Some pumpkin farms even offer haunted hayrides in the evenings if you want something a little more spooky. Get into the Halloween mood with a ride through some scary scenes and see how jumpy your family is.
3. Feed farm animals at a petting zoo.
Many pumpkin farms have animals on site. If there are friendly animals in the barnyard, you might be able to purchase small bits of food and have the chance to feed them and pet them. This is great for photo ops with the family. Kids will love getting the chance to pet llamas, pigs, goats, sheep, and maybe even larger animals, like cows and horses. Petting zoos stimulate all five senses, so they are great experiences for young children.
4. Wear your Halloween costumes.
Many of the best fall activities are centered around Halloween. If your family already has their costumes picked out and ready to go, why not find more excuses to wear them? Many pumpkin patches encourage costumes, especially for the younger crowd. Check and see if there are any costume contests at the pumpkin patch that your kids can enter. It’s always more fun when other people are dressed up at the same time, but any excuse you have to put on your costumes is fun. Plus, you don’t want to pay for something that you only get to wear once.
5. Try some pumpkin games!
Pumpkins are fun for a lot of reasons. You can do so much more than carving, but it can be messy if you attempt to do these things at home. At the pumpkin patch, you can often find some of the fun pumpkin-related games all set up for you.
One popular option is pumpkin bowling. Instead of using a regular bowling ball, you roll a pumpkin down the lane to knock over pins. It’s a lot harder than regular bowling because you’re rolling an object that isn’t perfectly round and doesn’t come with holes for your fingers. It’s also played on uneven ground, but the challenge makes it even more fun.
Another pumpkin patch activity you might find is a pumpkin cannon or slingshots. This is really fun for the kids because they get to launch pumpkins into the air and try to hit targets. The pumpkins usually smash open when they land which is always a treat to watch.
6. Paint some gorgeous gourds.
There are many varieties of pumpkins and gourds. You don’t have to just search for the perfect orange round ones to carve faces into. Painting gourds and pumpkins is a fun way to decorate them without having to scoop out all the innards and use knives and sharp tools. You can be very creative with the painting as well. Incorporate some symbols of fall and use them to spruce up your front steps. With the painted gourds, you don’t have to worry about rotting because you aren’t cutting them open. They will last the entire season, whereas the pumpkins you carve may only last a few weeks (depending on the weather).
7. Sample all the snacks.
Check to see if your local spot includes any type of pumpkin farm market where you can purchase snacks and produce grown at the farm. Apple cider donuts and drinkable apple cider are popular fall flavors. You should also sample any pumpkin products they have like pumpkin pie or pumpkin ice cream.
Take advantage of the proximity to where the items are grown and how fresh they are. The fall flavors are a favorite for many, so enjoy them while they are fresh and in season. If you don’t love apples and pumpkins, try butternut squash, corn, or beets.
8. Take advantage of pony rides.
Family farms often have at least one pony that kids can take a ride on. If your kids have been begging to try horseback riding, this is the perfect place to start. Ponies are smaller than full-grown horses and much more friendly for first-time riders and young children. Rides will follow a short trail where an adult, either you or a worker at the farm, will walk alongside the pony and child to make sure they are able to stay on.
Your children will have an absolute blast taking a ride, and you might be able to avoid having them ask for their own pony in the future. There might even be other horses and animals available for a ride as well. Some farms even offer yoga and other fun events with goats and other popular farm animals.
9. Play in a bounce house!
Inflatable bouncy castles are a huge attraction for any small child. They can literally bounce off the walls and jump all over and not hurt themselves (unless it’s jam-packed with other children). Some places take it to the next level and set up a full inflatable obstacle course with slides and hurdles to jump over and hoops to jump through.
This is one of the easier attractions to get your hands on and more and more are available to rent nowadays. If your child loves jumping in the bounce house, you can even rent one for their next birthday party. But for now, take advantage of anything like this that the pumpkin patch has available to get some energy out.
10. Make your own wreath out of corn stalks.
Fall decorations are fun and festive and they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg at the home decor store. Grab some corn stalks from the local farm (with their permission of course) and see what kinds of decor items you can make with something that would have otherwise been composted.
The most basic decor item you can put together is a wreath. Just braid the dried stalks together into a circle. You can add a few pressed leaves for more color and then display this on your door for the season. If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can try to make your own scarecrows with corn stalks and put them up in your garden. You can just tie some stalks together and then use anything colorful to add a face, hat, and clothing (doll’s clothing can work as well.)
11. Get face painting done.
One simple delight for kids is getting their faces painted. Many pumpkin patches have a face painter there for an added bonus for the kids. There is usually a board of designs they can do. Popular options include animals, rainbows, superhero masks, and other small designs. Kids can pick out what they want and then you can enjoy a few minutes of quiet while they get their faces painted. If you wear your costumes to the pumpkin patch, you might even be able to have something painted on your family members’ faces that matches your costumes.
12. Show your bravery at a haunted house.
Halloween and pumpkins go hand and hand thanks to the season. Many pumpkin patches fully embrace the Halloween fun and set up haunted houses for visitors. Exploring these spooky sites can be exciting for older kids and adults! If you have really small children, maybe the rest of you take turns going through.
If you have a younger child that wants to go to a haunted house, you can usually search for kid-friendly options that might operate during daylight hours or keep things pretty PG and low-key inside so it’s fun for all ages.
You might even consider taking your family or your date on a Let’s Roam Ghost Tour Scavenger Hunt! Each haunted history tour leads you to locations with paranormal connections, fills you in on the facts, and lets you compete for points accrued by completing challenges. It’s a fantastic activity you can enjoy on your way to or home from the pumpkin patch.
13. Check the local events calendar for fall festivals.
Pumpkin patches only get to operate for a few weeks during the peak pumpkin season. Many places have a kick-off fall festival or a big event on the weekend that they close. It could be something as simple as a trick-or-treat event for young children or a giant festival with train rides, live music, and food vendors.
Check your community calendars or follow the social media accounts of local pumpkin patches and farms to stay up to date on the events going on. Make sure to plan your trips around any special dates that you don’t want to miss.
14. Test your shot with corn cannons.
Corn cannons have become a popular attraction, albeit one of the more adult-oriented additions to our list of pumpkin patch activities. If you’ve got teens in tow or are heading to a farm for an autumn date night, try your hand at this strategic pastime! The concept is simple—load cobs of corn into cannons, and shoot them at targets!
Turn the experience into a competition! You could even make a friendly wager. Perhaps the winner gets to choose this year’s pumpkin.
15. Don’t forget about pumpkin picking!
Last, but definitely not least, plan to choose your own pumpkins. That’s the whole point of a U-Pick Pumpkin farm. Find the perfect pumpkin for you and let your entire family select their own as well. Everyone has a unique vision of the ideal size, shape, and color of the pumpkin. Some people love the giant ones and others love the weirdly shaped pumpkins that are super short and wide or tall and skinny.
You can go in with an idea of how you want to carve your pumpkin or let the pumpkin speak to you once you find the right one. However you decide to do it, have fun with the process, and make sure to take your time exploring the options.
Destinations for a Fall Family Road Trip
If you want to explore the beautiful changing colors of the leaves during peak season, you may need to hop in the car and head towards one of the more scenic places in the country. During the fall harvest, you can enjoy the changing leaves with shades of reds, oranges, and yellows along with all the tasty flavors of fall fruits and vegetables.
The most popular place in the country for fall fun, gorgeous scenery, and beautiful colors. The small towns throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and Upstate New York are perfect for a family road trip.
There are pumpkin patches and apple orchards all over the place. Let the kids ride the Cow Train at the Great Pumpkin Farm in upstate New York. Sample pancakes in New Hampshire at Polly’s Pancake Parlor with fresh local Maple Syrup. See the entire working farm at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont with views of the Green Mountains.
Wherever you decide to go in New England, you will be met with history, beautiful fall colors, and all kinds of attractions to help you get in the mood for the fall season. Plus, you’ll end your trip with a camera roll filled with memories and gorgeous leaf-peeping pictures.
Minnesota’s North Shore
You may only think of this northern state as the winner for the coldest temperatures in the country, but the shores of Lake Superior are a beautiful place to escape in the fall. Pack the family in the car and explore the multitude of state parks along Highway 61. There are waterfalls, hiking trails, and beautiful views of the largest lake in the world.
The small towns along the highway, plus the city of Duluth on the southern tip of the lake, are home to all kinds of attractions and activities that are perfect for families. Take the gondola up Lutsen Mountains, visit the historic (and possibly haunted) Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, and pick out your pumpkins at one of the farms in the area. You’ll be treated to some gorgeous fall colors and smaller crowds than other more popular regions of the country.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is considered an All-American Road and it is a beautiful drive during the autumn season. The road runs for 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina and connects Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
This route could easily be done one way by looping through some of the bigger cities in those states on the way there or back. You’ll be able to explore some historical sites along with beautiful hikes and mountain views from so many scenic overlooks.
Asheville is a great fall destination along this route. Families can visit all the fall festivals that take place in this town and the surrounding area during the peak fall color season. The Biltmore Estate is a popular spot to explore and tons of beautiful spots along the shores of Lake Lure where you could stay for a few days when you need a break from driving.
The Bay Area is a great launch point for many of the popular autumn road trips. Take the family through the Redwoods and then up towards the Sierra Nevadas to enjoy the changing colors of the trees splattered all over the mountainsides. The Lake Tahoe area is gorgeous and has so much to explore for the whole family.
Yosemite National Park is still wide open in the fall before the snow falls and the crowds are much less than during the high summer season. The Central Valley is home to hundreds of farms and you can find pumpkin patches and autumn festivals in many of the towns throughout the region.
The Pacific Northwest
North Cascades National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the United States. It’s filled with hikes of all levels and during the early fall months, you can enjoy the changing colors of the trees with a backdrop of the American Alps and turquoise glacial lakes.
Head towards Seattle and enjoy the many pumpkin farms through the Skagit Valley. There is an 8-acre corn maze at Muddy Boot’s Pumpkin Farm where your family can get lost for hours if you aren’t careful. Bob’s Pumpkin Farm has a sunflower festival in the month of September and then transitions to a full-blown pumpkin extravaganza in October.
You may think the PNW is rainy all the time, but the fall months are still sunny and warm. It’s a well-kept secret that you and your family can enjoy this season.
Make your plans today for pumpkin patch activities and scenic fall drives!
Get out and enjoy the beautiful time of year with your family. With all the incredible fall activities and seasonal events scattered throughout the country, it’s easy to find something that will be within a day trip or weekend road trip for your family. Whether you decide to pack up the car and take an adventure or do something closer to home, make sure that you bring the camera along and enjoy making these special memories.
Frequently Asked Questions
When searching for a local farm, decide what kinds of pumpkin patch activities you are looking for. Little kids would love face painting, hay rides, and bouncy castles, while older kids might prefer haunted houses instead.
Check to see if there are any pumpkin patch activities in your area to explore with the family. You can pick out your own pumpkin and take advantage of the fun games and activities they have set up. Otherwise, apple orchards or hikes to look at fall colors are fun and outdoors.
If you aren’t able to head out of town for fall break, consider a staycation! Be sure to schedule some pumpkin patch activities and find other creative ideas in an interactive book like Adventures From Scratch.