by LAINEY KRAL

Fall on the Farm

As the days get a little bit shorter and nights get a little bit colder – as cold as they ever get in San Diego – it’s time to enjoy the opportunities of autumn. Perhaps nothing symbolizes fall festivities as much as the pumpkin. Whether carved and lit as a jack-o-lantern, baked into a pie, or simply displayed for the holidays, this round orange squash is a critical component of the season. Throughout the month of October, local farms will open up their gates to welcome families eager to pick out their own.

San Diego offers a wide variety of pumpkin patches, with something to suit any family’s idea of a perfect autumn day. There are corn mazes, bounce houses, hayrides, train rides, and tasty fall treats. Most are open to the public from late September through Oct. 31 – check out the farms’ websites for detailed hours and available activities.

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Those who are interested in a simpler, purely pumpkin-oriented experience might want to visit Lavender Hill Pumpkins in Fallbrook. Lavender Hill offers 35 different varieties of pumpkins, squash, and other gourds to pick straight from the vine, ranging in size from the miniature Munchkin to the North Atlantic Giant. You can find organic pumpkins at Suzie’s Farm, where visitors can take a guided tour of the whole farm in addition to picking their own pumpkins. Farm Stand West has a produce stand with delicious seasonal offerings.

If kids or parents want to get to know some four-legged farm folk, a number of pumpkin patches also have petting corrals. Try Bates Nut Farm, Mountain Valley Ranch, or Oma’s Pumpkin Patch for an up-close experience. Pumpkin Station Farms in Bonita and Rancho Bernardo let visitors learn about the farm animals, and kids can saddle up for a pony ride at Bates Nut Farm and Peltzer Farms. The latter also has pig races to cheer on.


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Bates Nut Farm, Valley Center
Tractor hayrides, straw maze, petting corral, pony rides
www.batesnutfarm.biz

Farm Stand West, Escondido
Hayrides, produce stand, pick-your-own pumpkins
www.thefarmstandwest.com

Lavender Hill Pumpkins, Fallbrook
Dozens of varieties of pumpkins, some over 300 pounds
www.lavenderhillpumpkins.com

Mountain Valley Ranch, Ramona
Corn maze, corn cannon, petting zoo, antique photo ops
www.mountainvalleyranch.com

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch, Lakeside
Hayrides, hay bale maze, petting corral, tricycle race, games
www.omaspumpkinpatch.com

Peltzer Farms, Temecula
Train rides, pig races, corn maze, pony rides, mining activities
www.peltzerfarms.com

Pumpkin Station Farms, Bonita, Rancho Bernardo
Corn maze, hayrides, farm animals, picnic areas
www.pumpkinstation.com

Summers Past Farms, El Cajon
Pick-your-own pumpkins, bounce house, corndogs, coffee bar
www.summerspastfarms.com

Suzie’s Farm, San Diego
Farm tours, pick-your-own organic pumpkin patch
www.suziesfarm.com