Though the leaves haven't yet turn and there's no chill in the air, fall is upon us here in Orange County. And what better way to ring in the season than with a family trip to the pumpkin patch! Take a hay ride, wander through a corn maze, then bring home one of fall's finest fruits (yes, pumpkins are a fruit!) for your front stoop. Just make sure to pack your sunscreen - it's still hot out there!
Here are some of the best places to pick a pumpkin and have some fun:
- Tanaka Farms -- Located in the heart of Irvine, Tanaka Farms is an organic farm with a CSA (community supported agriculture) program, popular fruit and veggie stand and, in the fall, a pumpkin patch. The focus here is on family fun, but also helping to connect people to their food. Visit the farm between September 28 and October 31 to enjoy a wagon ride, corn maze, petting zoo, games, crafts and of course, you-pick pumpkins and other produce. "
- Irvine Park Railroad -- With so much going on at this Orange pumpkin patch, you might find yourself spending the entire day there. Take a train, hay or pony ride, race around in mini John Deere tractors, decorate pumpkin cookies, walk through the (kid-friendly) haunted house, have your face painted and hop into the Halloween Bouncy House. Then, of course, pick your pumpkin! The fun begins September 22.
- The Pumpkin Factory -- With locations in Corona, Santa Ana and Westminster, The Pumpkin Factory offers a convenient choice, especially for those who enjoy amusement park-style rides. Enjoy classic pumpkin patch activities and more, and pick a pumpkin grown on the Pumpkin Factory's family farm.
- Laguna Hills Mall -- Don't let this patch's mall location scare you, because Pumpkin City's Pumpkin Patch feels just as festive as the more rustic spots we all love. With pony rides, puppet shows, rides and live country music, the whole family is sure to have fun. Bonus: it's open until 10 p.m. on weekends.
So you can really make the most of your pumpkin patch excursion, here are a few tips for picking the perfect pumpkin.
Choose a pumpkin that is...
- Firm and heavy for its size
- Has consistent coloring throughout
- Has a green stem that's solidly attached
- Stays sturdy on a flat service, if you're planning to carve it
- Of the Jack-o-Lantern or Lumina variety for carving
- Sugar Pie, Red Kuri or Kobucha variety for eating
- Cindarella, Carnival or Sweet Dumpling variety for home decor