There’s no shortage of pumpkin patches around L.A., but there’s not another one like the family-run Lombardi Ranch in Santa Clarita. With far more than just pumpkins we’ve got five reasons you need to gather up the family, slather on the SPF and escape the city to the old-west style of Lombardi Ranch this fall.
Sunflowers and Scarecrows
Every year Lombardi hosts a community scarecrow contest, and folks here go all out. Unique and elaborate displays range from “The Krowdashians” (only in L.A.) to an entire puppy scarecrow house to everyone’s favorite snowman (see above). They live in Scarecrow Alley – a breathtaking sunflower patch with flowers that tower over you as you wind along its path. This area is great for photos.
Grab a $1 treat from the bake sale benefiting local high schools and groups – faves are the banana bread and giant dipped marshmallows. If salty is more your speed, get a giant farm-grown ear of corn, sprinkle it with Parmesan, and check your pride at the door while you gnaw through that goodness. At the “Chuck Wagon” you’ll find typical festival fare like hot dogs, nachos, and drinks. There’s not only pumpkins raised here, it’s a working farm that’s been growing produce since the 40’s and offers seasonal vegetables you can bring home. They’re particularly known for their tomatoes, but also offer beautiful squashes, peppers, onions, and more.
From the live country music you’d expect to hear at a venue with hay bales for seats, the quality of bands Lombardi showcases is top notch. For example, Beer Truck Band which plays most weekends, is led by a prior Motown Records singer. There’s also live 50’s and 60’s music by band Pink Cadillacs and R&B by Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps. A cute (shaded) dance-floor-slash-mosh-pit is set up in front of the band so you and your kids can get your groove on.
On weekends you can catch a performance by one of the talented local dance, band or cheer teams.
Need we say more? Plus, there are even more animals to see from a cow to a llama to pigs. Only the goats and sheep are in the petting zoo, however. (A visit to the petting zoo is $3.50.)
The Farm Rides
The most popular ride at Lombardi is hands-down the train – a colorful (and comfortable) ride that meanders through the sunflower scarecrow patch. But don’t miss the horse drawn covered wagon ride. Led by two beautiful white horses with bells and with two friendly dogs (Judy and Roscoe) on board, the ranchers are wonderful to chat with as you ride old-west style through the large corn fields that overlook the valley. You’ll have a serious urge to strap on a bonnet after this ride. A train ride is $4.50, and a wagon ride will set you back $5.
There’s a large corn maze to conquer (warning: it’s harder than it seems!), and a free little kid hay bale maze complete with ride-on tractors for kids under six to enjoy.
What to Know Before You Go
- All activities, food and produce are cash only (there is an ATM on site).
- Parking and entry are free. On Saturday mornings, get there by 9 a.m. for the best parking (and before it gets too hot).
- Pick up a free wagon in the parking lot to for toting your pumpkins.
- Do not get your car washed or wear your Sunday shoes to the ranch. It’s all dirt.
- Use your most “off-road” stroller to deal with dirt paths and hills.
- Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat.
- You can bring your own food and drinks in.
- Dress the part! There are few legit places in LA to wear your cowgirl boots – this is one of them.
- Bring your camera – like your real one, not just your phone. There are photo ops galore: from a huge, hollow pumpkin to an antique red fire truck to a giant hay bale pyramid.
- Bathrooms are on-site and port-a-potty style.
- A covered picnic bench area can be reserved for birthday parties on the weekends. Cost: $100 for three hours.
- Kids under 24 months are free for rides.
The festival is open through Halloween, Mon.-Sat. from 9 a.m.-.6 p.m. and Sun. from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
29527 Bouquet Canyon Rd.
-written and photographed by Shannon Guyton
Do you have a fall festival that’s a family tradition? Share the inside scoop with us in the comment section.