Talk to me, East Bay. Do you like to head out to the country to pumpkin fields on genuine farms? Do you prefer little patches within your part of town? Or do you just head to the grocery store for your gourds?
Over the years, I have noticed that the range of Bay Area pumpkin patches are all over the map (as are the patches themselves). My preference is to get in, get out, and get a perfect pumpkin picture so I only head out to the farm if I have a whole day to kill (like I have Monday 10/13 thanks to BUSD teacher work day).
First, the fabulous half-day farms:
Down in Fremont, Ardenwood Farms is worth the trip (patch part of the JE Perry organic farm) to visit a working farm. Ride on a tractor and climb the haystack mountains. And more pumpkins! $1 admission to the pumpkin patch on weekends (Friday mornings for school groups only). Open Oct 1 -31 Mon-Fri noon-7pm Sat&Sun 9am-7pm.
A drive out to the (925) and you can enjoy the Clayton Valley Farm near Walnut Creek. Train rides, hay maze, activity zone for kids, and a few farm goodies as well. Super fun. Open Oct 1 – 31, 2010 from 9am – 8pm (playland closes at dusk, train has reduced hours). Playland with straw maze and play structures costs $7 for kids; FREE for adults and babies under 12 months. Barnyard play area costs $5 per child. Pumpkin train costs another $2.50 per person. Pumpkins cost extra.
Out in Livermore, G&M Farms will get you lost in a corn maze. Weekends feature pony rides, pedal carts, and a barnyard blaster (huh, what’s that?). Voted best pumpkin patch and corn maze by Diablo Magazine, hours and prices vary.
Also in Livermore, Joan’s Farm comes highly recommended by our contributor, Rebecca. She tells us that the pony rides and wagons made it tons of fun for her little ones. Bonus activities include: maze, Old West Town, hay ride, farm animals, and gem panning. No admission price. Open daily 9am-6pm through October. Cash only.
A drive to Brentwood is rewarded at the Smith Family Farm, which is old school in a good way. October harvest activities include a hayride to the pumpkin patch, where each person can pick their own pumpkin, live music, a corn maze, an animal area, and a picnic area. Fall Harvest Festival begins October 4th. Hours are 9:00am-5:00pm daily through Halloween. Admission is $9 on weekdays and $10 on Weekends and includes a pumpkin.
Up north near Santa Rosa, Muelrath Ranches, open since 1946, is open from Sep 27 through Halloween from 10am through 6pm daily. The pumpkin patch offers 21 different types of pumpkin; a haystack for climbing; a hay tunnel; a silly spooky dungeon; a cornstalk maze to lose yourself; hay rides; and a “pumpkin slingshot” to shoot for accuracy. No admission price. Friday and Saturday evening events require $10 tickets and sound like a big ol’ festival.
Meanwhile back in the near East Bay:
Closer to home is the carnival-inspired Speer Family Farm patch adjacent to Bay Street. A la carte and combo price plans can get you into a petting zoo, a jumpy house, an inflatable boat slide, rainbow slide, and a hay maze. All day access to all the stuff is $20. Fairly expensive once you add it all together but you don’t need to drive far and you trade off running errands with your partner. Open September 19 – October 31 from 10am – 9pm.
Pick of the Patch operates several locations in Alameda County opening 9/25 this year with hours varying through 10/31.
- A new patch in Fremont features inflatable fun for children age 2 to 12 at $9 for 30 minutes as well as PUMPKINS.
- Newark near NewPark Mall; the inflatables are for children age 2 to 12 priced at $10 per 30 minutes.
- Hayward at SouthLand Mall; the inflatables are for children age 2 to 12 priced at $10 per 30 minutes.
- San Leandro features inflatable fun for children age 2 to 12 at $9 for 30 minutes as well as PUMPKINS.
Some urban patches take over a few blocks in the near (510). We’ve seen pop-up pumpkin patches on Piedmont Ave and across from Bakesale Betty’s in the old Global Video lot (51st/Telegraph).
And there’s always the grocery store!
So, where do you get your pumpkins?!
[All photos by Heather and Whitney, All rights reserved]