It’s that time again. Time to bundle up the kids, throw on some rain boots and go mucking about in a pumpkin patch. Mentally brace yourself for the amount of mud, grass, and hay that will probably end up in your car. You may even ask yourself why you are traipsing out to a pumpkin patch when you could just hop down to the local market and pick out one of the lovely clean pumpkins they have in a nice pile. It can’t just be for the photo opps of your kids can it? Well, yes, that is part of the reason you go, but it’s also because going to the pumpkin patch signals the change of the seasons and the coming of winter. Plus, if you do it right, it could be one heck of a delicious afternoon.
Now there are a few things you need to think about before you head to the patch this year:
- How far do you want to drive?
- Are there activities for the kids?
- Do you want pumpkins on the vine or just in a pretty stack at the farm?
- Will you pack a snack?
- Is fresh cider and donuts available?
- What weekend will you go?
- If you have to go on a weekday, is it even open? Many only have weekend hours.
Once you know the answer to some of these questions you can narrow down your search. If you have no clue where to start, here are a few helpful hints that will get you to the right pumpkin patch for your family.
Pumpkins on the vine
In my family this is a necessity. My husband doesn’t want just any pumpkin. He wants to bring our boys out into the field to cut their very own. This tradition is more sacred than cutting down a Christmas tree in our house. Research you local farms. Ask if they will still have pumpkins on the vines when you want to go. The closer you get to Halloween the more picked over the patch will be. Choose your dates wisely.
Fun to launch you into the season
Picking out a pumpkin isn’t as simple as it used to be. For parents who love to keep their energetic offspring entertained, they need a whole lot of fun piled into their trip to the farm. Many farms have embraced this yearly event by offering tractor rides out to the field. This brings a smile to a child’s face as they are finally allowed aboard a vehicle they have only heard about on TV or in books (especially if they are a city kid). Bonus for mom and dad: you get to put your feet up before you trek through the field.
Pre- and post-pumpkin picking activities may include farm animals to pet, hay mazes to navigate, and in the case of one of our favorite spots, a pumpkin being shot out of a cannon or catapulted into a field. Either way that pumpkin exploding as it hits the crowd is pretty darn cool. Pony rides, face painting, cider pressing, and pumpkin carving may also be found at many local farms.
It’s all about the donuts… and cider
As I already mentioned, the art of pumpkin picking is a pretty big deal in our house. This dates back to my husband’s own childhood and possible into his father’s. I was raised picking out the perfect pumpkin at the grocery store. However, after that quick stop, we would also grab fresh cider and donuts. This is where the autumnal spirit really comes alive for me. It took about three trips to different farms in the Seattle area for me to find what I was looking for, but we finally found it. My hubby got the pumpkin patch and I got to sit down and sip piping hot cider and fresh out of the fryer donuts with a bit of cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. My feeling is if I can’t have cider and donuts what’s the point?
If you live in the Midwest or Northeast of the United States you will want to make sure you keep an eye out for cider donuts. These should not be missed. Pumpkin donuts can also be found, which may go very well with that pumpkin spice latte you snagged on your way to the farm; although these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if you found a latte at the pumpkin patch too.
Now that you have a few ideas to get you started, what are you waiting for? Grab the kids, throw those rain boots on with a smile and get ready to make some memories. Don’t forget the camera either. When your child tries to pick up that 40 pound pumpkin you aren’t going to want to miss it!
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