Did you know that petting a baby goat can lower your blood pressure? Are you aware that even the most serious adults break down into fits of giggles as they try to beat the twists and turns in a corn maze? Have your kids been begging to go on a hayride? Those are just some of the fun activities you can do on a farm near you when the air gets crisp and temperatures start to fall.
This autumn, introduce your family to some wholesome entertainment in countrysides across the nation. Our selection of “agritainment” activities—like apple picking and pumpkin chucking—promise fun for all ages. After enjoying an outdoor activity or two, end the day with a sip of hot cider or indulge in a freshly made doughnut or piece of apple pie. Find farm-focused activities near you that will help you make the most of the outdoors before temperatures start to drop and Old Man Winter arrives.
Nothing screams “fall” like apple picking, and you can do it on farms across America. At Riley’s Apple Farm in Oak Glen, California, the young ’uns can pick apples and then make a few corn husk dolls. Stir a giant copper kettle of apple butter during the Apple Butter Festival held over Columbus Day weekend in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, and if you’re a true apple gourmand, don’t miss a tasting of heirloom apples at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Make sure to ask for a taste of apple cider; many farms press their own.
Beat the corn maze
Think you have what it takes to make your way out of a corn maze, Field of Dreams-style? Sorry, but you can’t use your GPS. Sign up for the challenge at a farm near you. Check out Kroll’s Farm in Waukegan, Illinois, where human GPS routers will help you if you get terribly disoriented or need to take a break. Many farms host kiddie versions so the little ones don’t get overwhelmed and cranky. Swore Farms in Pocatello, Idaho, offers night walks through the corn maze—a fun activity especially under starry skies. Some farms, like Conner’s A-Maize-ing Acres in Hilliard, Florida, offer school field trips, mom-and-me visits and birthday party packages.
Visit a pumpkin patch
Gourd-ge yourself on all things pumpkin. The Great Jack ‘O Lantern Blaze in the Hudson Valley, within easy driving distance of New York City, easily squashes the competition with a stunning display of carved pumpkins to create a fall wonderland. Visitors can stroll along a Pumpkin Promenade or the Pumpkin Zee Bridge and even visit a Jurassic Park filled with pumpkin dinosaurs. Feel like carving 1 of your own for the cause? The Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon, Massachusetts, hosts a pumpkin-carving event, and everyone’s creations can become part of the sanctuary’s annual kid-friendly Halloween Prowl.
Go on a hayride
Hayrides are just plain fun. You sit atop bundles of golden hay in the back of a truck or horse-drawn carriage for a lazy ride around a farm on a brisk fall day. Craven Farm in Snohomish, Washington, offers hayrides, which you can take on its 20-acre pumpkin patch and even enter the farm’s secret corn maze. The farm also has a pint-sized corn maze for kids and a 15-acre version for those who really want a go at it. Weston Red Barn Farm in Weston, Missouri, offers scenic tours of its farm, including the pumpkin patch, on a tractor-drawn hayride. Here you can also huddle around a campfire and roast marshmallows for a sweet treat to round off the day’s activities.
Say hello to the animals
Many farms host small petting zoos to delight kids of all ages. Moo-ove from the sheep and goats to maybe watch cows getting milked. Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch in Middletown, Maryland, offers a petting zoo and even pony rides for kids who can pretend to be a cowboy for a day. Lasso some sweet fall goodies at the farm’s concession stand. At Hill Ridge Farms in Youngsville, North Carolina, you can check out the petting zoo, feed animals for a small fee, take a ride on a mini train and even pan for gemstones. Maybe you’ll strike it rich!
Work a pumpkin chucker or corn cannon
Had enough of corn this year? Chuck a couple through a corn cannon at Yahoo Farm in Jasper, Georgia. While you’re there, carve pumpkins and even take part in a pumpkin hunt led by a pumpkin bunny every Sunday. Attend the annual Pumpkin Madness Festival at the Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in Hanover, Pennsylvania, to smash pumpkins with a rubber mallet and hurl your leftover pumpkin at dartboards to see which one sticks. A special Pumpkin Chucker at Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm in Homer Glen, Illinois, will rocket pumpkins through the air for a fun, messy view.