From the first crunch of a crisp apple to the pleasing sounds of a late afternoon backseat slumber, an autumn day spent picking orange squash with your young Halloween dream is sure to please.  But if you’re ready to jump off the hayride and exit the corn maze, consider these seven unique alternatives among the myriad family-friendly festivals across the DMV this season.

Honorable Mention Best SpiritPhoto: Maryland Renaissance Festival

Maryland Renaissance Festival 
Fairies and gnomes, and All the King’s Men (and Women) descend on Crownsville, Maryland for this celebration of all things enlightened.  From knights jousting to Shakespeare playing, your little Henry the VIIIth will enjoy the cultural awakening, or perhaps just gnawing on a giant mutton leg, or two.

When: Aug. 27-Oct. 23

Baltimore Comic Con
D.C. Comics or Marvel, Spiderman or Wonderwoman, this convention is billed as “America’s Greatest,” offering  opportunities to meet and greet the real live authors and actors behind the superhero capes, plus free admission for kids under ten (with each paying adult).  Participate in a kids costume contest with a $100 cash prize, and talk with favorites, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Sean Astin.

When:  Sept. 2- 4

H Street Festival
An annual street festival showcasing the vibrant community that has taken root in this revitalized area of downtown, this day of fun is a family favorite with ethnic food, crafts vendors, and  this year featuring the usual Kid Zone, but also a designated Pokemon Go  area with charging stations,  as well as a Chess Academy offering free lessons.

When:  Sept. 17

Washington Ukranian Festival 
A family and cultural tradition of the last fourteen years, this festival joins together both native Ukranians, many from the colorful host church, and the rest of us for an immersive fatherland  experience featuring dance, food, music and activities just for kids.

When: Sept. 17-18

Smithsonian Autumn Conservation Festival 
Located in Front Royal, Va.’s Blue Ridge mountains, this world class research institution in support of the National Zoo welcomes families annually for a rare glimpse into animal life and efforts to protect endangered species like American bison and others endearing to any Junior Wild Krat.

When: Oct. 1-3

Do it up Bavarian-style with activities catering to  both those still in kindergarten, and those who may wind up in the biergarten.  Taking place all over the grounds of the Kentlands, a rolling village-like suburban enclave, the festival features everything from horse-drawn wagon rides and kids crafts to German Oompah-pah bands worth their salt (and their pretzels)!

When: Oct. 9

Claude Moore Farm Colonial Market Fair 
Join the costumed re-enactors bringing to life 18th century entertainers, tradesman and militia at this living history museum for one of three seasonal fairs held each Spring, Summer and Fall.  October brings savory meat pies and fresh bread, plus candle dipping for the kids and mulled wine for the parents.

When: Oct. 15-16

Have you checked out any of these off-the-beaten-path fall fests? Tell us about them in the comments section below. 

–Carolyn Ross