It wouldn’t be fall without a little dirt on your shoes from a visit to the pumpkin patch. This year, some of Sacramento’s most beloved family-owned farms are ready to welcome back guests with plenty of kid-friendly activities, new custom-built rides, savory and sweet eats, and all the u-pick pumpkins one can pile onto an old Radio Flyer. Here are five homegrown destinations to experience with your family this spooky season.
Apple Ridge Farms
1800 Larsen Drive, Camino; (530) 647-0613; appleridgefarms.com
Hours and details: Oct. 1–31: Mon.–Thurs. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Fri.–Sun. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. No fee for parking. Admission is free.
The trek up to Apple Hill is a seasonal rite of passage. More than 50 family farms grow crisp apples and other fall favorites. Soak up the country charm at Apple Ridge Farms, stop No. 20 on the Apple Hill map, often less crowded than other spots. You’ll find a cute pumpkin patch with plenty of photo ops beside the farm’s giant pumpkin or among 50,000 zinnias in bloom. Pan-mine for gems, fossils and arrowheads, or take a scenic butterfly walk, and enjoy sticky barbecue in the picnic area beneath a canopy of trees. Before picking the brightest pumpkin in the patch, stop by the Apple Barn and bakery for fruit pies, apple dumplings and flaky strudels.
Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm
1415 Pumpkin Lane, Wheatland; (530) 633-2568; bishopspumpkinfarm.com
Hours and details: Oct. 1–30: Sun.–Thurs. 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 9 a.m.–9 p.m.; Oct. 31–Nov. 7: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Parking fee $10 Fri., $20 Sat./Sun. (free Mon.–Thurs.). Admission is free.
Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm has 60 acres of u-pick pumpkins, a petting zoo with a classy Clydesdale named Clementine, a vintage carousel from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, a corn maze, hayrides and more traditional favorites. Since 1973, the Bishops have kept that old-time nostalgia alive through their scratch-made baked goods created from treasured family recipes, including pumpkin-apple muffins and chocolate chip cookies. Quench your thirst at the Cider Mill with warm apple cider or a Slushshakie: layers of apple cider slushie and vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream, caramel, sprinkles and a mini caramel apple. Enjoy house-smoked barbecued tri-tip and pulled pork sandwiches and pints of homebrew called “Bishop’s Other Cider.” Two new rides include an airplane crop-duster and a themed tractor ride where guests follow the story of Mrs. Bishop looking for Farmer Bill in different areas of the farm like the pigpen or chicken coop. This particular ride was custom-made in Italy to honor founder Bill Bishop, who passed earlier this year. Live musical entertainment is on the books, along with a puppet show, pig races, Friday-night fireworks and Saturday-evening movies in the pumpkin field.
Bobby Dazzler’s Pumpkin Patch
23300 County Road 99D, Woodland; (530) 867-4167; yourpumpkins.com
Hours and details: Oct. 1–31: Mon.–Thurs. 2–7 p.m., Fri.–Sun. 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Free parking and admission.
Want to test your navigation skills? The Milo Maze at Bobby Dazzler’s Pumpkin Patch is waiting for you. It’s about 2 acres and averages 20 to 40 minutes, depending on your directional know-how. Get moo-ving on the cute Cow Train, where riders of all ages go over little bridges and tour the entire farmstead. If your child is feelin’ festive, get their face painted with a creepy design before heading over to the petting zoo to visit rabbits, pigs and llamas, or sign up for a pony ride. Another popular attraction is the corn bath, where kids can submerge themselves in a sandbox filled with dried corn kernels and pretend they’re the great corn monster of Woodland. Dazzler’s also takes online orders for pumpkins of all sizes.
Goblin Gardens Pumpkin Patch at Bastiao Farms
3845 El Centro Road, Sacramento; (916) 925-2496; facebook.com/goblingardens
Hours and details: Oct. 4–31: Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Free parking and admission.
Dennis Bastiao, the proprietor of Goblin Gardens Pumpkin Patch, says his trusty train and hayrides are powered up and ready for families to experience. He dares anyone to brave the haunted barn with animated spooks and scares lurking at every turn. There’s also the Western Town play area with dusty Wild West cowboys and an old schoolhouse with vintage desks for plenty of photo ops. Bring a picnic to enjoy under the covered patios before picking the perfect pumpkin on Bastiao’s 12 acres.
Vierra Farms, Home of Dave’s Pumpkin Patch
3010 Burrows Ave., West Sacramento; (916) 849-9450; vierrafarms.com
Hours and details: Oct. 1–31: Sun.–Thurs. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Fri.–Sat.: 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Free parking and admission.
Dave’s Pumpkin Patch is one that hits all the senses. Families are welcomed with the aroma of fresh apple cider doughnuts as they pull into the parking lot. The Cornival play area is chock-full of hands-on experiences, like the gigantic orange jumping pillow, a hay maze and towering pyramid, pig races, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty appearances, kid-friendly movies on the weekends, a pumpkin chunkin’, hayrides and all the barbecue and cotton candy you can handle. When you’re at Dave’s, you’re truly guests in the family’s very own backyard. Be sure to enjoy the fire pits at night for s’more-makings and visit the farm’s website for more info on Dave’s annual campout where families spend the night on the farm and he even cooks everyone breakfast the next morning for an additional fee. Happy pumpkin season!