Big thanks to Speer Family Farms for sponsoring our guide to East Bay Pumpkin Patches.
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.
In the (510):
Speer Family Farms Pumpkin Patch, Alameda. Located at 2153 Ferry Point, it opens for the season on September 30th with many activities that your kids will love: ziplines, giant zorb balls, ship slides, bounce houses, petting zoo, and a maze. Enjoy the food trucks — hey, dinner solved! — while you choose your perfect carving pumpkin! All day access to all the stuff was $20 last year. Open through October 31 from 10am – 10pm (pictured above).
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Multiple locations. Pick of the Patch operates several locations in Bay Area pumpkin patches including four in the (510) area in Fremont (two locations), San Leandro, and Hercules. They feature inflatable fun for kids at 2 to 12 along with the holiday orbs. Click on through to see hours and amenities at each.
A corner near you. 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! The pile of pumpkins outside Monterey Market in October is the stuff of legends.
The fabulous half-day farms:
If you want to drive an hour or two, there are many fantastic farms with a pumpkin patch on the premises that will welcome you. Prices and amenities vary greatly.
Ardenwood Farms, Fremont. Near the Dumbarton Bridge, Ardenwood Farms hosts the pumpkin patch for the JE Perry organic farm, a working vegetable farm. Ride on a tractor, get lost in the kids maze, and climb the haystack mountains. And more pumpkins! Opens October 1. $1 admission to the pumpkin patch on weekends (weekday mornings for school groups only). Open Oct 1 -31 Mon-Fri noon-7pm Sat & Sun 9am-7pm.
Clayton Valley Farm, Walnut Creek. A drive out to the (925) and you can enjoy the Clayton Valley Farm. Train rides, hay maze, activity zone for kids, and a few farm goodies as well. Super fun. Open Oct 1 – 31 from 9am – 8pm daily (play land closes at dusk, train has reduced hours). Playland with straw maze and play structures costs $9 for kids; FREE for adults and babies under 12 months. Barnyard play area costs $9 per child. Pumpkin train costs another $3 per person. Pumpkins cost extra. Luckily, they take a credit card.
G&M Farms, Livermore will get you lost in a 6-acre corn maze. Weekends feature pony rides, pedal carts, and a barnyard blaster (huh, what's that?). Pick your own pumpkins. Open all October, hours and prices vary.
Joan's Farm, 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: fort maze and giant corn maze; Old West Town with gem panning; hay ride; farm animals; and pumpkins too. Right near Livermore Wine Country to boot. No admission price, but the pumpkins and activities cost. Open daily 9am-6pm through October. Cash only.
Smith Family Farm, Brentwood 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 in October. Last year's hours were 9:00am-5:00pm daily through Halloween and admission was $9 on weekdays and $10 on Weekends and includes a pumpkin.
Muelrath Ranches, Santa Rosa. Open from Sep 30 through Halloween from 10am through 6pm Sunday through Thursday or until 9pm on Friday and Saturday. The pumpkin patch offers 21 different varieties of pumpkin; free hay rides; pumpkin slingshot; and jumpy stuff. No admission price. Friday and Saturday evening events require $12 tickets and sound like a big ol' festival.
Great Peter Pumpkin Patch at Spring Hill Farm, Petaluma. Anna and her family make their family pumpkin patch trek to this working dairy farm in Petaluma (pictured above) where most of the attractions are FREE: animal petting, corn pit (their fave), milking a cow (!!), digging up potatoes, hay maze, and hay rides. Pumpkins and homemade ice cream cost some, but the cheese-tasting is also free. About an hour drive.
Make a weekend out of it!
If you have time to spend on the ultimate autumn weekend with your family, you might consider a trip to Half Moon Bay. We hear great things about Lemos Farm, Arata's Pumpkin Farm, and Farmer John's Pumpkin Farm, where they really go nuts for Halloween. We have tips if you want to camp overnight at the State Park and find a perfect breakfast spot in the morning.
Driving two hours to Lathrop, CA will lead you to a fun corn maze experience at Dell'Osso Family Farms. Opening Day is October 3rd.
Thanks again to this year's guide sponsor, Speer Family Farm now in Alameda, open all October long! All research and inclusions were based on my research and opinions.
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? Where do you get your pumpkins?!
[Photo credit top two photos provided by Speer; 2nd and 4th photo by Anna Azimi; others by Whitney Moss. All rights reserved]