Favorite East Bay Pumpkin Patches

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 this coming Monday thanks to BUSD teacher work day).

First, the fabulous farms:

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. Live scarecrow costume contest is on Oct 12th. 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?). 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. No admission price. Open daily 9am-6pm. Cash only.

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 Friday-Sunday. Open Oct 1 -31 Mon-Fri noon-7pm Sat&Sun 9am-7pm.

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 $8 on weekdays and $9 on Weekends (I believe that price still includes a pumpkin).

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, and a hay maze. 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 Sept 27 – October 30 from 10am – 9pm.

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).

So, where do you get your pumpkins?!

[All photos by Heather and Whitney, All rights reserved]