The stores are filled with pumpkin-flavored everything, but we still think the real deal is best! And the best place to get a pumpkin? An actual patch, of course! Finding the right guard is just half the fun; most of these u-pick places have hay rides, cow trains, playgrounds and more. Whether you’re looking for a “sugar pumpkin” to bake or an Autumn Gold for carving, these pick-your-own farms are the perfect place to spend a fall day with the family.
photo: Stephen Andrews via Unsplash
Sharp’s at Waterford Farm
This 530-acre working farm offers three pumpkin-punctuated open house events. At the Day In The Life Of a Farmer activities (Sept. 19, Oct. 9 and Oct. 18), kids learn about beekeeping and how crops are grown, feed goats, navigate a mini corn maze, and take a hayride. At the Pilgrim History program (Nov. 1 & 4), guests learn about the Pilgrims home life, the chores Pilgrim children were responsible for, the games Pilgrim children played, and also about the Pilgrim’s relationship to Native Americans. Pick a pumpkin and an ear of popcorn at both events. (Note: Registration required.)
Where: 4003 Jennings Chapel Rd., Brookeville, MD
Cost: $9/child; adults attending with children are free
Open: times vary by event
photo: Annandale Play Care via Yelp
Butler’s Orchard Festival
The Fairy Godmother may have turned a pumpkin into Cinderella’s carriage, but here pumpkins become fairytale characters who populate the orchard’s popular Pumpkinland. Other attractions include hayrides, a corn maze, giant slides, barnyard animals and, well, picking pumpkins. Pony rides, face painting and a pumpkin cannon, available only on the last three weekends of the month, cost extra.
Where: 22222 Davis Mill Rd., Germantown, MD
Cost: $12/person; free for children under 2 (Note: cash only)
Open: Sept. 28, 29, Oct. 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 26, 27, Nov. 2, 3 at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Looking for something a little more straightforward? Skip the extracurriculars and head here for some simple pumpkin picking. On weekends through Halloween, the farm offers hayrides to the patch, where shoppers can take their time deciding on their favorite member of the cucurbitaceae family, to which pumpkins, squash and gourds belong.
Where: 15604 Sugarland Rd., Poolesville, MD
Cost: $2/person age 2 & up
Open: daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
photo: Big Wave Dave via Yelp
Clark’s Elioak Farm
Known for its Enchanted Forest, the farm opens its pumpkin patch plus rides, an enchanted forest castle, gem mining and geode cracking on Oct. 12-13. The Countdown to Halloween is Oct. 19 and 20, with the Enchanted Pine Tree Forest, rope maze and face painting. Kids who bring a teddy bear Oct. 5 and 6 get a free hayride, while those who dress up on Oct. 26 and 27 can join the Halloween costume parades at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Note: Swing by the petting farm while you’re there. Kiddie-size pumpkins are $2.75 apiece, while larger ones cost $.69/pound.
Where: 10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, MD
Cost: $7/person 13 months and up to access the petting farm, Enchanted Forest, slides, maze and play areas. $2/ride
Open: 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays (through Nov. 3)
Admission includes two corn mazes, hayrides, hill slides, an area for tikes 48 inches and smaller, and a Farm Football Lounge with two 52-inch flat-screen TVs showing that day’s games. Extra fees apply for duck races, pumpkin chunkin’ and a scarecrow workshop. Stop at the pumpkin patch for an orange orb of fall goodness. Pumpkins 5 pounds and under cost $3, while heavier ones are $.60/pound.
Where: 1720 Crain Hwy. North, Upper Marlboro, MD
Cost: $12/person; 2 and under free; $40/ person season pass or $150/family of four
Open: 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturdays (Sept.-Nov.); 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sundays (Sept.-Nov.).; 5 p.m.-11 p.m., Fridays in October (through Nov. 10)
Fall Fun Festival at Gaver Farm
Before you pick a pumpkin to schlep around, cover the 45-plus attractions such as the jumping pillow, a petting zoo, giant slides, mini mazes, duck races and photo centers. When the sun goes down, Fall Fun Nights get started with a Moonlight Corn Maze, campfires and s’mores.
Where: 5501 Detrick Rd., Mount Airy, MD
Cost: $9/person weekdays, $13.50/person weekends, $35 for a season pass; Kids 2 and younger free
Open: daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (through Nov. 4)
photo: Ally R. via Yelp
Get into the spirit with ghost and goblin decorations at the farm, which offers 20-minute weekend rides through woods decorated with storybook and other characters. Besides that and the pumpkin field, there’s also a Straw Maze made of more than 1,000 bales of straw and the Boo Barn for kids 4 through 6. It’s a dark passage to the bottom of the Red Barn and full of animated ghosts and goblins.
Where: 2415 Woodbine Rd., Woodbine, MD
Cost: $4/person for hayrides
Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays; 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays (through Nov. 4)
Budget watchers and big spenders alike can enjoy a trip to this farm, which is home to the Maryland Pumpkin Festival (Oct.6-7). There’s no admission fee, and hayrides to the farm’s 15-acre pumpkin patch are free. Willing to spend a few dollars? Check out Summer’s 12-acre cornfield maze, slides, farmer golf, and pumpkin and apple cannons. Candy lovers take note: the pumpkin cannon blasts out wrapped goodies one day a weekend. Summers reopens Sept. 21. Fireworks can be viewed Fridays and Saturdays starting on Oct. 4.
Where: 5620 Butterfly Ln., Frederick, MD
Cost: $9/person weekdays, $14/person weekends, kids 2 and under free
Open: 1 p.m.-7 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays; 10 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Saturdays; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays (through Oct. 31)
Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
A free hayride and petting zoo are the perks of visiting Jumbo’s. You’ll also have plenty of free fun finding your perfect pumpkin in their 30-acre patch and exploring their 3,000-square foot Fall Shopping Craft Attic. Pumpkins cost $.57/pound.
Where: 6521 Holter Rd., Middletown, MD
Cost: free admission, extra charges for some activities or $15 to access all
Open: daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (through Nov. 4)
Put your thinking caps on for this one. Kids and adults alike can get a better sense of the path food takes from the farm to the table while also enjoying a wagon ride, petting zoo and, of course, the pumpkins.
Where: 12850 Shlagel Rd., Waldorf, MD
Cost: $9/person 25 months and up, free under 2
Open: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends (Oct.5 to Oct. 27)
Queen Anne Farm
A tractor-pulled hay wagon will give your crew a ride to a pumpkin patch, which has squashes ranging in size from two ounces to more than 200 pounds. You can also make free stops at the Children’s Maize, Pumpkin House, and Petting Corral.
Where: 18102 Central Ave., Mitchellville, MD
Cost: free, $4/person for the hayride
Open: daily from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
photo: PaHoua L. via Yelp
Fall Festival at Cox Farms
This is a popular fall festival, although it doesn’t have a pumpkin patch. Visitors take a small pumpkin from the bins on their way out – after taking a hayride through a forest decorated with witches, skeletons and people dressed as aliens; enjoying live music; whooshing down slides; and exhausting the play areas. Kids can also try farm chores, such as milking a cow.
Where: 15621 Braddock Rd., Centreville, VA
Cost: : $6/person discount weekdays, $10/person regular weekdays, $15/person regular weekends. $17/person prime weekends, free under 2
Open: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (through Nov. 5)
Fall Festival at Ticonderoga Farms
Come for the pumpkins, stay for the Goat City petting farm, hay fort and free-range chickens. For an extra fee, you can feed the animals, too. Again, no pumpkin patch to romp in, but you do get a free pumpkin to take home.
Where: 26469 Ticonderoga Rd., Chantilly, VA
Cost: $10.95/person weekdays; $16.95/person 2 and up
Open: 10 a.m.-5 p.m, weekdays; 10 a.m.-6 p.m., weekends (through Nov. 4)
photo: Carolyn Bahm via Unsplash
Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival at Great Country Farms
Ever see a dinosaur eat a pumpkin? You can here when the “P-Rex” pulverizes a pumpkin while a pumpkin princess stands by. There’s also a giant jumping pillow, slides and putt-putt. Take a wagon ride to the pumpkin patch and get picturesque views of the mountains. Go back Nov. 2-3 for the Pumpkin Chunkin’ festival.
Where: 18780 Foggy Bottom Rd., Bluemont, VA
Cost: $10/adult, $8/child weekdays, $12/adult, $10/child weekends
Open: daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (through Nov. 4)
At this farm’s three locations, you can pick from over 50 kinds of pumpkins without squashing your budget (pun intended). The Home Farm (38299 Hughesville Rd, Hamilton, Va.) offers u-pick field and a stone barn that dates to the 1700s. Oatlands’ (20850 Oatlands Plantation Lane, Leesburg) main features include a mansion and a historic garden, plus you can pick pumpkins off the vine. Gilberts Corner (intersection of routes 15 and 50) has a farm stand with pre-picked options.
Where: Hamilton, VA; Leesburg, VA; Aldie, VA
Open: times vary by location
Fall Festival and Pumpkin Playground at Burke Nursery
Geared toward the younger crowd, this festival leaves the scary out. Kiddos can romp on playground equipment, climb a giant sand pile (sorry, parents), check out farm animals, get their faces painted. Pony rides ($5) are extra, as is the moon bounce ($2). Small carvable – or paintable or sticker-able – pumpkins line the way out. Grab one. It’s free with each paid admission.
Where: 9401 Burke Rd., Burke, VA
Cost: $10/person weekdays, $14/person weekends; children under 2 free
Open: 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays and Sundays; 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday (through Oct. 31)
photo: Nate M. via Yelp
During the fall, the 120-acre working farm hosts pig races, pumpkin drops and a corn maze. Night mazes – one dark and one spooky, with actors from the Loudoun County Valley Performing Arts program – will be available Oct. 20 and 21 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. To go only to the pumpkin patch, there’s no admission fee. Pumpkins – including gladiator, full moon, fairytale and Cinderella varieties – are $.50/pound.
Where: 5273 Harry Byrd Hgwy., Berryville, VA
Cost: $10/person, children under 2 and military with ID free
When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m., weekends and Columbus Day (through Nov. 4)
—Meghan Yudes Meyers with Ayren Jackson-Cannady and Sarah Vogel