For kids, Halloween time usually means the three C’s: candy, costumes, and carving pumpkins. In spite of the fact that your kids will be wielding knives (we all know those little plastic saws just don’t cut it) you’ll need a place to procure the perfect pumpkin. This year, instead of stopping off at Safeway on the way home, make the annual excursion to one of these local patches. Guaranteed to have the kids grinning like jack o’lanterns!
Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch
For urbanites who want the traditional pumpkin patch experience without trekking out of the city, head on over to Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch in the Inner Sunset. Open yearly since 1979 (it was the city’s first pumpkin patch), Clancy’s offers pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, along with gourds, corn stalks, and Indian corn. They even offer tractor-pulled hay rides around the patch!
Bonus: Free parking (yes, free parking). Small fee for hay rides.
Location: 1620 7th Ave., San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Open daily 9 a.m.-10 p.m. through Halloween.
Dina V. via Yelp
Great Pumpkin Patch
You might know it as The Emerald Forest—one of their specialties is flocking Xmas trees—but this sweet spot en route to Stonestown Mall (and a stone’s throw from Stern Grove) has a surplus of pumpkins and other harvesty gourds, corn, and the like for your fall decorating whims. A mini-haunted “house” room that isn’t too scary for the littles and bouncy house and slide ($5) make it more than just a grab-and-go. While it’s not the farm experience of Half Moon Bay or one of the Petaluma patches, your kiddos can still get their pumpkin fix without leaving the city limits.
Location: 317 Sloat Blvd. (@19th) San Francisco, Ca
Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. through Halloween
Online: emeraldforesttrees.com (this website is for location purposes)
Perry Farm at Ardenwood Historic Estate
On the grounds of the East Bay Park’s Ardenwood estate, you’ll find J.E. Perry Farms and a field full of organic pumpkins. Ardenwood also hosts a kids maze, photo-ops with the resident scarecrow (don’t forget your own cameras!), a hay pyramid and an area where you can nosh on lunch and snacks. Plus cool old outbuildings and a general harvest-fest atmosphere.
Location: 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont, Ca
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 12-7 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Cost: The pumpkin patch entry fee is $1. Ardenwood Farm’s fee is $3/adults; $2/child 4-17; children 3 and under are free.
Photo credit: Perry Farms
Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm
This pumpkin patch provides an entire day’s worth of fun. The Plumpkin Playland features a giant tunnel of straw, and there’s a Little Carver’s Barnyard play area that includes Duck Races, Horsey Hop-a-Long and Barn Ball Toss. Kids can meet some goats, pigs, and chickens, and then hop on board a train ride around the gardens, past the animals, and through a tunnel. You’ll be famished after all the activities, so pause for some BBQ, a little nosh from the Plumpkin Pantry, or stuff yourself with warm kettle corn. Boo-yeah!
Location: 1060 Pine Ln., Clayton, Ca
Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. every day from Oct. 1-31. Train operates Mon.-Fri., 3 p.m to dusk and Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m. to dusk.
Cost: Unlimited all day admission is $7/child, free for adults with a child admission. Children 12 mos. and under are free. Train tickets are $3/person (12 mos. and under free).
Photo credit: Emily Williams
Think the Midwest is the only place you’ll find an impressive corn maze? Head out to G&M Farms in Livermore and check out their six-acre corn maze! With lots of fall goodies including ornamental gourds, corn, and, of course, u-pick pumpkins, you’ll get enough to put Martha Stewart to shame. There’s also farm animals and a famous cow train.
Location: 487 East Airway, Livermore (take the Isabel Avenue exit off of I-578).
Hours: Pumpkin patch is open Mon.-Fri., 2-6 p.m. and Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The corn maze is open Mon.-Thurs., 4-8 p.m., Fri., 4-10 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m., and Sun., 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Cost: Free; Mon.-Thurs. the corn maze costs $8/adult; $7/child. Fri.-Sun., $10/adult; $9; children 5 and under are free
Smith Family Farm’s
We found out about Smith Family Farms last year from our readers who let us know just how awesome this place is. Activities include a hayride to the pumpkin patch where the whole family can pick their own pumpkin to take home, live interactive music performances, educational displays, a corn maze, a replica Miwok Indian village, a barnyard animal area, a country store, and a picnic area.
Location: 440 Sellers Ave., Brentwood, Ca
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sep. 27-Oct. 31
Cost: $10/weekends; $9/Mon.-Fri. and includes a pumpkin and all activities.
Photo credit: Western Railway Museum
Western Railway Museum’s Pumpkin Festival
Your little train lovers will flip out when you take them to the Western Railway Museum’s pumpkin patch. Well worth the drive from the city, trains depart every thirty minutes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and take you on a scenic five-mile trip to Gum Grove Station: a wooded glen that takes you back to a time when hands-free didn’t have anything to do with phone calls. There’s a hay bale fort, tractor rides, music and games, and food and pumpkins for sale. Price of ticket includes unlimited train rides, admission to the museum, use of the grounds, and parking.
Bonus: All monies go toward the Western Railway Museum—a nonprofit educational museum—and local Rotary Clubs support of youth and community.
Location: 5848 State Highway 12, Suisun, Ca
Cost: $12/adults; $9/child 2-14; children under 2 are free
Hours: Sat. & Sun, Oct. 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, & 26, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Arata’s Pumpkin Farm
Although Half Moon Bay is just a half an hour south of San Francisco, during October it gets crowded, so the trip down there will likely take longer than usual. The Pumpkin Festival Half Moon Bay, this year on Oct. 18 & 19, draws crowds to the area’s pumpkin patches and roadside stands. We think it’s totally worth the shlep, and Arata proves it. The oldest working farm in San Mateo County (since 1932!) you’ll find a two acre corn maze, a six-acre corn field, train rides, a petting zoo, and a haunted barn alongside acres of beautiful pumpkins.
Location: 185 Verde Rd., Half Moon Bay, Ca
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Cost: Pumpkins start at just $1 but the maze and other attractions have various fees. Bring some cash!
Photo courtesy the author
If you’re looking for the ultimate pumpkin patch experience for the 5 and under crowd, including pony rides, train rides, a petting zoo, bouncy house and pumpkins, you should head to Lemos Farm. This glorified pumpkin patch leaves nothing to the imagination. Expect to find tons of memorable activities, and depending on the day you go, equally great crowds, too. There is food for sale on site.
Location: 12320 San Mateo Rd. (Hwy 92), Half Moon Bay
Hours: Wed.-Fri., 10 a.m.- 4 p.m; Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m.- 5 p.m; open every day in October, except Oct. 6.
Cost: Prices vary. $17/all day unlimited activities for kids 14 mos. and up; $5/adults; haunted house, $4; hay ride, $4; petting zoo, $1. Click here for full price list.
Uesegi Farms Pumpkin Park
This truly one-of-a-kind patch is a must for South Bay residents, and well worth the drive for other Bay Area dwellers: In 2013 this farm won the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Pumpkin. Will they break their own record this year? Kids will freak for the Pumpkin Blasters: shooting targets with mini-pumpkins at 90 mph (which they claim is safe for all ages). There’s also a carousel, a 2-acre corn maze, a petting corral, and train rides. You can pose for a photo in front of a Pumpkin Pyramid, and on weekends there are pony rides. Truly a destination patch.
Location: 14485 Monterey Rd., San Martin, Ca
Hours: Open at 9 a.m. every day; closing times vary between 5-9 p.m. Check website for daily hours. October 1-31.
Cost: No admission fee, parking is free on weekdays; weekend parking free is $3/vehicle. Attractions range from free to $7. Pumpkin and food sales are cash only. Tickets for attractions can be purchased with credit cards.
Nicasio Valley Farms
Just 35 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge but still a world away, this farm features pumpkins, hayrides, mazes, bounce houses, farm animals, climbing walls, a giant slide and even a mechanical bull!
Location: 5300 Nicasio Valley Rd., Nicasio (West Marin) Ca
Hours: Open every day, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Oct. 1-31
McClelland’s Dairy Organic Farm & Pumpkin Patch
This is an organic pumpkin patch located on a dairy farm. Pick your pumpkins straight off the vines, then learn about and play on the farm. There’s a free petting zoo, hay maze, and a “seed” sand box. Enjoy hay rides and a bouncey house, and guided farm tours, too.
Location: 6475 Bodega Ave., Petaluma , Ca
Cost: Most activities are free; Farm tours are $15/adult (13 and up); $7/child; children 4 and under are free.
Hours: Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m for the month of October
The Great Peter Pumpkin Patch at Petaluma Creamery/Spring Hill Cheese Farm
Set on a working sustainable farm, and guests will love Larry Peter “Pumpkin” who owns the farm and educates on organic and sustainable farming. There’s a petting zoo, milking cows, hay rides, potato digging, and picking your own pumpkin right of the vine. You can even sample award winning cheeses and devour some homemade pumpkin ice cream. Weekends feature live music and BBQ. Opening day is September 27th!
Location: 4235 Spring Hill Rd., Petaluma, Ca
Hours: Every day from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. from Sep. 27 -Oct. 31
What’s your favorite local pumpkin patch? Tell us in the comment section below!
~Amber Guetebier & Erin Lem