If that pumpkin latte coffee concoction isn’t quite putting you in denim overalls and a spirited state of mind, it’s off to the pumpkin patch! In the last few decades, farmers figured out that urban and suburbanites might like to day trip it to the country, pick their own apples and pumpkins, have a glass of hot cider, sit on a haystack in a nubby sweater and take in a tad of rural life. The opportunities for wholesome fun surround Chicago. Consider these spots on the local map and see some previous suggestions right here.
2855 Hart Road
Aurora Illinois, 60502
According to Adam Voirin, Chief Operating Officer at Abbey Farms, “We offer something a little different at Abbey Farms Pumpkin Daze. We focus on outdoor, ol’ fashioned family fun on the farm.” Activities range from one of Kane County’s largest corn mazes, fun non-electronic attractions, a petting zoo and other fall fun all included in the ticketed admission price. Once you are inside the park, there are no additional tickets to purchase to take part in most of the farm attractions. Pumpkin patches are generally crawling with kids, but Abbey Farms also offers a craft beer and wine tent weekends for visitors over 21. Stop by the the seasonal store to get farm-made donuts, bread, pies and other bakery items to tote back home.
All Seasons Orchard
Woodstock, IL 60098
Although there are over 30 different activities that cool weather revelers of all ages can enjoy — including a corn maze with three miles of pathways, a petting zoo, pony rides, a magic show, pig races, a bunny village, a jumping pillow and an apple cannon — fall foodies will really go for All Seasons Orchard. There’s a restaurant serving popular items like barbecue pulled pork sandwiches and a dessert bar stocking tempting autumn treats such as apple cider donut sundaes, pumpkin bars and pumpkin spice lattes.The farm market offers products made on site such as caramel sauce, caramel apples, apple cider donuts, kettle corn and pies, as well as other products like fruit butters and locally made apple wood smoked bacon and cheeses. There are pre-picked pumpkins as well as a patch to pick pumpkins and gourds in all shapes, sizes and colors. The pick-your-own apple orchard is thick with over 13,000 trees, including the orb of the moment Honeycrisp apple.
9112 W Algonquin Road
Huntley, IL 60142
Dave’s is as simple as its name selling locally grown pumpkins and other cool weather veg and decor for nearly 40 years. It’s Huntley’s original pumpkin stand (all pumpkins are $6 each for any size) and they won’t nickel and dime you to death with parking and admission fees. Owner Dave Reid says, “No child should be told which pumpkins they can afford based on size; kids need the freedom to choose their favorite pumpkin.” Little ones will love the hay rides, mini corn maze, pedal tractors and other gentle farm-focused activities.
Royal Oak Farm
15908 Hebron Road
Harvard, IL 60033
Royal Oak Farm opens a brand new multiple acre u-pick pumpkin patch for the 2015 season and beyond. In addition to tons of u-pick pumpkins, the Harvard farm also has one of the largest selection of prepicked pumpkin varieties — like the ghost pumpkin, peanut pumpkin and the Cinderella pumpkin — as well as winter squash and gourds. Also see Amaze ‘N Apples, the first and only of its kind in the U.S.The apple tree maze features 3,000 trees, with 1.5 miles of walking trails, games and activity areas. Royal Oak’s Sarah Bell says, “We also offer apple picking with 30 varieties of apples, a gift shop, restaurant, bakery, train, carousel, wagon rides, playground area, petting zoo and many other fun activities. We are an orchard designed with families in mind.”
19502 River Road
The family farm turns out tons of berries during the summer and come October, it’s the annual Pumpkin Festival every weekend. Hop on a hay wagon for a bumpy but fun ride into Cody’s massive pumpkin patch to pick out your favorite orange orb. There’s plenty of activities, including a four-acre corn maze, corn tunnel. pumpkin launchers, corn box, barrel rides and tractor track. The chilly air may stir hunger pangs and quell them with fresh apple cider, brats, apple cider donuts, burgers, caramel apples and fresh fruit pies.
Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.