By Meredith Lions
Nothing says fall like pumpkins, whether it’s pumpkin-flavored cookies and hot beverages or just the shade of pumpkin orange. A visit to a pumpkin patch is a great fall outing for couples, families or just groups of friends wishing to get into the spirit of the season. Here are five of the best pumpkin patches in the area. Be sure to explore at least one this fall.
Goebbert’s Pumpkin Patch
42W813 Reinking Road
Hampshire, IL 60140
Goebbert’s Pumpkin Patch runs possibly the most popular fall festival in the area, but you must act quickly as the festival is only six weeks long, beginning September 21 and ending on Halloween. Experience your first pig race and possibly your first pumpkin-eating dinosaur in addition to standard fall activities. The Farmer’s Wife Cafe is the perfect place to stop for a refreshment of pumpkin cookies and hot apple cider. You can go on your standard pony and wagon rides, but why not also take a camel ride for a more well-rounded experience? Every year, there’s something new, so even if you went last year, check out the website and see what’s on the docket this season.
Smith Pumpkin Farm
7150 18th St.
Kenosha, WI 53144
Jerry Smith’s pumpkin farm has something for everyone. In addition to the standard pumpkin display, hay rides and petting zoo, try out the giant jumping pillow, unique to Smith’s Pumpkin Farm. If you’re a runner, you can participate in the Monster Mash Dash, a 5k race (in costume of course) through the farm’s trails and the corn maze. Enjoy festive seasonal foods, get your face painted and check out the Western Town (all new this year) for a full day of holiday-themed fun. Make sure to stop by the Country Store on your way out for cookies and gifts to take home.
Dollinger Family Farm
7520 E. Hansel Road
Channahon, IL 60410
To add a little history to your seasonal merrymaking, check out the Dollinger Family Farm, a literal family farm that has been in the same family since 1852. Its old barn is on the National Register of Historical Places. And possibly best of all, parking and pumpkin farm admission is absolutely free. In addition to the normal petting farm inhabitants of sheep, rabbits and goats, Dollinger has an observation beehive that you can check out as well. Get lost in the four-acre corn maze, pick out your perfect pumpkin and go on a hay ride or even a steam train ride. Be sure to visit the gift shop before you leave for caramel apples and other seasonal gifts.
Sonny Acres Pumpkin Farm
29W310 North Ave.
West Chicago, IL 60185
Thanksgiving and Halloween decorations abound at Sonny Acres Pumpkin Farm. In addition to the pumpkins, you can also pick apples and check out other gourd such as squash and Indian corn. Enjoy hay rides, cotton candy and roasted corn before taking a trip through the haunted house. There are also amusement rides and even a costume shop. Get your costume gathering out of the way while you’re there. Be sure to also pay a visit to the novelty loft to view all things Halloween.
The Children’s Farm at the Center
12700 Southwest Highway
Palos Park, IL 60464
If you’re concerned about your children coming into contact with pesticides while visiting a farm, you may be interested in The Children’s Farm at the Center. This spot minimizes the use of pesticides and chemicals and also offers options to go out and pick your pumpkin from the field or choose an already picked pumpkin if time is short. Although it is open all week long, the weekends offer more to do with the pumpkin playland which includes such fun as barn tours and a petting farm, a straw bale climber for kids to experience climbing among the hay bales, the giant corn box and, of course, a spooky wood shed (for the younger kids).
Related: Picking the Perfect Pumpkin Patch
Meredith Lyons is an actor, competitive fighter and fitness instructor in Chicago who also owns an amazing cat named Jake. Meredith has been writing on Examiner as the Chicago Martial Arts Examiner since 2008. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.