It’s that time of year when giant orange pumpkins take over our front porches. Whether your wee ones want the bigger than big pumpkin that will take hours to carve, or a teeny tiny mini one, these pumpkin patches have them all. Get ready to get carving!

photo: Christine Szeto via flickr

San Francisco

Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch
A little slice of the country comes to the city when Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch opens in the Inner Sunset. Many SF natives will tell you this is the best patch around. And no wonder: it’s been a staple since 1979 (and transforms into a killer cut Christmas tree lot in December). You’ll find all the varieties of pumpkins, from Cnderella to gourds. 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. 415-753-2689
Hours: Open daily 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Oct. 1-31.
Online: clancystrees.com

photo: Patrick Fore via unsplash

East Bay

Alameda Point Pumpkin Patch
Best known for their Bay Street Pumpkin Patch in Emeryville, the Speer Family has another pumpkin patch growing over at Alameda Point. The Alameda Point Pumpkin Patch has a rock climbing wall, extreme air jumpers, a 40-foot ship slide, and a 200-foot zip line for the thrill seekers, as well as a petting zoo and bouncy houses for the little ones. Oh yeah, they have a ton of local, valley-grown pumpkins, too!

Location: 2153 Ferry Point, Alameda, CA. 510-705-2352
Hours: Sept. 29-Oct. 31, 10 a.m. -10 p.m. daily
Online: speerfamilyfarms.com

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Perry Family Farms
This spot offers the family a chance to see the whole process of growing veggies and pumpkins. Located on the grounds of the East Bay Park’s Ardenwood estate, Perry’s is a real working organic farm. Kids can learn about the pumpkin growing process and burn off some steam with a kid’s maze (which parents can see over the top of) and tire patch, character cut-out photo ops, a hay pyramid and hayrides. It’s easy to make a day of it, by exploring the rest of the Ardenwood estate while you’re there.

Location: 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont, CA. 510-791-0340.
Hours: October 1-31, Mon.-Fri., noon-7 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: No fee Mon.-Fri. $1 admission on Sat. & Sun. Children under two are free. Admission to Ardenwood Farms: Tues., Wed. & Sat. $3/adults, $2/children (4-17 years), under 4 are free; Thurs., Fri. and Sun. $6/adults, $4/children (4-17 years), under 4 are free.
Online: perryfarmsorganic.com

photo: Melissa Bouse

Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm
Just a short drive from Contra Costa County’s suburbia lies the Clayton Valley Pumpkin farm. You can easily spend hours here and that’s not even counting choosing your perfect pumpkin. Kiddos will love the Plumpkin Playland and its giant tunnel of straw; the Little Carver’s Barnyard play area that includes Duck Races, Horsey Hop-a-Long and Barn Ball Toss; and meeting the on-site farm animals.. Did we mention there’s also a little train that rides around? Another great perk of this patch is that it opens a few days before many other spots. So you can get a jump on making fall memories!

Location: 1060 Pine Ln., Clayton, CA. 925-672-5198
Hours: Sept. 28: noon-5 p.m. Sept. 29-30: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct.1-31: 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. daily. Playlands and trains have different hours.
Cost: General admission is free, some activities are individually priced.
Online: cvpumpkinfarm.com

Smith Family Farm’s Pumpkin Patch
Only in California does the start of pumpkin season coincide with the most epic heirloom tomatoes around. Opening weekend of the farm kicks off with Tomato Day (Sept. 29) to mark the end of the summer season and the beginning of the fall harvest. And there is plenty of fun to be had. 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.

Location: 440 Sellers Ave., Brentwood, CA. 1-925-625-5966
Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Sept. 29-Oct. 31
Cost: $10/adults; $12/kids on weekends; $10/everyone, Mon.-Fri. and includes a pumpkin and all activities. Cash or check only!
Online: jkdevera2.wixsite.com

G&M Farms
Getting lost is half the fun of visiting this Livermore farm. They boast a SIX acre corn maze full of twists and turns and dead ends. Once you find your way out, check out some of the other attractions like pony rides, pedal carts and a cow train. And don’t forget the pumpkins! You can pick your own in the field, or pick one up at the farm stand, along with other seasonal decor.

Location: 487 East Airway Blvd, Livermore, CA, 925-447-FARM
Hours: Oct. 1-31, Mon.-Fri., 2-6 p.m., Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., check website for varying maze hours
Cost: Free
Online: gmfarms.com

photo: Geraldine R. via yelp

Peninsula/South Bay

Lemos Farm
This just might be the grandaddy of all the area pumpkin patches. Lemos farm has that magic mix of fun for families with kids of all ages. For the under five crowd, there’s a fantastic selection of pumpkins along with pony rides, bounce houses and a haunted train ride. The haunted house has two versions of the Scare Zone: look for the “Halloween Fun” version for the younger kids. Older kids or grown-ups, be warned the other Scare Zone includes live actors who are hired to “scare the yell out of you” so its really not good for littles. Located in the heart of Half Moon Bay, you could easily weave a beach trip into this outing.

Location: 12320 San Mateo Rd. (Hwy 92), Half Moon Bay, CA. 650-726-2342.
Hours: Open everyday Oct. 1-31 (closed on Monday, Oct. 1), 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Prices vary by attraction. $15/all day unlimited activities for kids 14 mos. and up; $5/adults; prices for single ticket rides for individual attractions here
Online: lemosfarm.com

Webb Ranch Pumpkin Patch
Two words: pumpkin slingshot. A quick drive down 280 brings you to the home of this creation at Webb Ranch. The family-owned and operated farm has a pumpkin patch featuring more than 20 varieties of organic pumpkins. On-site hay rides, pony rides, a train ride and the infamous Pumpkin Slingshot make this a destination that is all about the pumpkins and more.

Location: 2718 Alpine Rd, Portola Valley, CA. 650-854-3134
Hours: Sept. 29- Halloween, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Admission is free. All rides, etc. require tickets, which can be purchased using credit cards or cash. Credit cards accepted for pumpkins.
Online: Webbranchinc.com

Farmer John’s Pumpkin Patch
For a simpler, pared-down experience, check out Farmer John’s in Half Moon Bay. Free of rides and extra kitsch, their appeal lies in the abundance of natural beauty and astounding variety of pumpkins.  You’ll find more than 60 varieties of pumpkins and squash, including their specialty, the Atlantic Giant, which varies between 250 and 500 pounds! Inspired to grow your own? Farmer John’s sells pumpkin seeds for the backyard warriors to plant in their own gardens. Shutterbugs won’t be able to resist the photo ops that Farmer John’s provides, including a giant pumpkin display, authentic Native American Teepee, vintage tractor, and rolling fields of pumpkins.

Location: 850 North Cabrillo Highway, Half Moon Bay, CA. 650-726-4980
Hours: Opens mid-Sept. through Halloween, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
Cost: Free
Online: farmerjohnspumpkins.com

Spina Farms Pumpkin Patch
This farm is located in beautiful Coyote Valley at the corner of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Bailey Avenue between San Jose and Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County. It is bordered by bright yellow sunflowers and filled with an abundance of amazing pumpkins. Come ride the Spina Pumpkin Express Train for a tour of the pumpkin patch. Explore the sunflower fields on an old-fashioned hay ride adventure. Petting zoo and pony rides are available on the weekends from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Location: Santa Teresa Blvd. at Bailey Ave. San Jose, CA
Hours: Starting Sept. 28, Sun.-Thu. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: Free
Online: spinafarmspumpkinpatch.com

photo: Heather Gravendaal

Arata Pumpkin Farm
When it comes to pumpkin farms, there are no shortage in Half Moon Bay but few can boast such perks as a 6-acre corn field, pumpkin river and the infamous two-acre Minotaur’s Labyrinth Hay Maze. There’s a Haunted Barn to explore, see the sights on a hay ride and for the small-set a Play Land area complete with a mini corn maze. Pack a picnic and plan to spend some time. You won’t regret it.

Location: 185 Verde Rd., Half Moon Bay, CA. 650-726-7548.
Hours: Mid-Sept.- Halloween, 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!
Online: aratapumpkinfarm.com

Marin County/North Bay

Nicasio Valley Farms
Just 35 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, Nicasio is the perfect place for all-day family fun. They offer a variety of attractions for all ages (weekends only) including face painting, hay rides, mazes, bounce houses, pony rides and petting zool! On weekends you can also catch live music performances, award-winning BBQ, and gourmet ice cream.

Location: 5300 Nicasio Valley Rd., Nicasio (West Marin) CA; 415-662-9100
Hours: Open every day in October, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Online: nicasiovalleyfarms.com

McClelland’s Dairy Organic Farm & Pumpkin Patch
During the month of October, this organic dairy farm is turned into McClelland’s Organic Pumpkin patch. Pick pumpkins straight off the vine and sign up to launch one or two from their Pumpkin Blaster. Other fun activities include tire swings, “sand” boxes full of corn kernels and oats, pedal tractor race track, and a hay maze. And while this fun is happening, the diary operations continue, too. Visitors get to watch cows being milked in the parlor and can also sign up for a farm tour to get an inside look into the dairy. Don’t forget to pick up some free-range eggs and butter at the farm store on your way home so you can make a killer pumpkin pie!

Location: 6475 Bodega Ave., Petaluma, CA. 707-664-0452
Cost: Admission to pumpkin patch and some activities are free. Additional fees apply to farm tours and rides.
Hours: Sat.-Sun., Sept. 29-Oct. 28, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Online: mcclellandsdairy.com

The Petaluma Pumpkin Patch
The Petaluma Pumpkin Patch is all about fun on the farm. There are animals to pet, a corn kernel “sandbox” to jump in, a 500 bale haystack pyramid to climb, and two corn mazes—one for little tykes and one for older kids. If you go for the big one, here’s insider tip #1: Take your toddlers to the potty beforehand, as most folks need around 45 minutes to find their way out! Insider tip #2: You can beat that 45 minute average by cheating/taking in the bird’s eye view from the second story viewing platform.

Location: 450 Stony Point Rd., Petaluma, CA. 707-781-3132
Hours: Sept. 28-Oct. 31. Sun.–Thurs. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: Entry is free, though some activities require tickets.
Online: petalumapumpkinpatch.com

The Great Peter Pumpkin Patch
If choosing a pumpkin from beautiful varieties in the yard of a gorgeous farm house on a working dairy farm with your belly full of pumpkin ice cream is your idea of a good time, then get thee to the Great Peter Pumpkin Patch. Dig your own potatoes, ride a tractor, free hay maze and cheese tastings (yes, we just said cheese!) are just a smattering of the joy that awaits you on this beloved Petaluma farm.

Location: 4235 Spring Hill Road, Petaluma, CA.
Cost: Free
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
Online: yelp.com

photo: pamjpat via pixabay

Farther Afield

Swank Farms
The Maniac Maze and the Haunted Maniac Maze will test your bravery and problem-solving skills!  The pumpkin patch will also have two giant jumping pillows (one just for little kids), a double slide, a cow train and pedal karts. Of course, they will have plenty of pumpkins for picking, too!

Location: 4751 Pacheco Pass Hwy., Hollister, CA. 831-637-4704
Hours: Open daily Sept. 29- Oct. 31, check website for various hours.
Cost: Free admission to pumpkin patch, $29 all inclusive ticket for Nighttime Maze Activities, $39 all inclusive ticket for Nighttime *Haunted* Maze activities.
Online: swankfarms.com

Uesugi Farms Pumpkin Patch
This truly one-of-a-kind is well worth the drive for Bay Area residents. 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 two-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. As their name claims, it’s more than just a patch: it’s a Pumpkin Park!

Location: 14485 Monterey Rd., San Martin, CA. 408-778-7225
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 $5/vehicle. Attractions range from free to $7. Pumpkin and food sales are cash only. Tickets for attractions can be purchased with credit cards.
Online: uesugifarms.com

—Kate Loweth & Melissa Bouse

The Great Pumpkin: The Bay Area's Best Pumpkin Patches