By Kelli Wheeler

Plucking a pumpkin out of a grocery store bin is not the way to celebrate the harvest — you want the fun fall experience! Whether it’s picking the perfect pumpkin right off the vine, a full day of fall family outdoor activities, finding the perfect fall photo-op, or it’s your greatest desire to get lost in a huge corn maze you’re bound to find the perfect pumpkin patch in the list below. From hayrides to petting zoos, corn baths to fresh apple cider, haunted houses to train rides, what a fun way to usher in fall and Halloween!

Photo Credit: Kelli Wheeler

Bishop Ranch Pumpkin Farm
1415 Pumpkin Ln.
Wheatland, CA 95692
(530) 633-2568
Season: Sept. 24 – Oct. 31
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
http://www.bishopspumpkinfarm.com/

Make pumpkin picking a complete fall adventure! Bishop’s has a slide hill, corn pit, train rides, corn maze, petting zoo, gold panning for marbles, and train car and tractor tire playground for an all day fun fall experience. Their quaint “main street” includes PigaDeli Square with BBQ, an apple cider mill, pie shop and general store with yummy treats. Take a hayride out to acres of on-the-vine pumpkins to find that perfect jack-o-lantern canvas.

The Elk Grove Harvest Festival
October 1-2, 2011
Elk Grove Regional Park
9950 Elk Grove-Florin Rd.
Elk Grove, CA 95624
(916) 685-4590
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
http://www.yourcsd.com/pumpkinfestival/

Come for the giant pumpkin weigh off and stay for the fun. You’ll find pumpkins for the picking at this two day event or enter in the Best Pumpkin Recipe, Scarecrow contests, or just come to watch the giant pumpkin boat competition as people captain their pumpkin boats across the lake for prizes. Sample the yummy fall food offerings, browse the craft booths, listen to live music or watch your children play and have a great time.

Photo Credit: Kelli Wheeler

The Pumpkin Farm
7336 Old Auburn Rd.
Citrus Heights, CA 95610
(916) 726-1137
Season: Oct. 1 – 31
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Reviews, Directions & More Info

A country experience in the middle of the city! You’ll feel like you’ve stepped on a farm with the corn maze, petting zoo and hayride around the pumpkin patch. There’s also a slide tower and haunted house but you’ll be trying to get your kids to sit still for a picture at this photographic delight with piles of mini pumpkins and scarecrow contest entries nestled among the corn stalks and vivid fall flowers.

Cool Patch Pumpkins
6585 Milk Farm Rd.
Dixon, CA 95620
(530) 304-0163
Season: Sept. 17 – Nov. 7
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
http://www.coolpatchpumpkins.com/

Want a real adventure? How about getting lost in a 45 acre haze maze labeled “The Coolest Maze on the Planet”? Too tough? Try the African Grass Maze for little ones, play in a Corn Bath quicksand pit, or at the Indian Village complete with teepees in the Kid Zone! Oh yeah, and don’t forget to find your perfect pumpkin among the 2,000 gourds!
Fog Willow Farms
11011 Cecatra Dr.
Wilton, CA 95693
(916) 687-4547
Season: Oct. 1-31
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
http://www.fogwillow.com/pumpkin_farm.asp

Head out to the country to get in the harvest spirit! For a $3 per person (4 yrs. and older) entry fee you’ll have access to all the attractions at this farm including unlimited hay rides, the climbing hay stack, petting zoo, Bunny Village, Goat Henge, Cow Town Express barrel train, adventures course, jumpers and more! Bring a picnic or stay for the weekend BBQ before you choose from hundreds of pumpkins, visit the over 100 animals, or make a stop at the yummy Sugar Shed for homemade fudge and candied apples.

Dave’s Pumpkin Patch
3010 Burrows Ave.
West Sacramento, CA 95691
(916) 849-9450
Season: Sept. 24 – Oct. 31
Hours: Sun. to Thurs. 10 a.m. to dusk, Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
www.davespumpkinpatch.com

Ever wanted to see a pumpkin fly? Then come on the weekends when Dave’s does Punkin’ Chunkin’ every hour on the hour. Of course there’re more traditional pumpkin patch activities like hayrides, pony rides, petting zoo, face painting, and picking pumpkins from the vine. But if you want to change it up a bit you can do the sunflower maze, the only full-sized themed corn maze in Sacramento, pig races, and the farm version of a trampoline – hay bounce’m!

Kelli Wheeler is the author of MOMSERVATIONS® The Fine Print of Parenting, a family columnist and mother of two living in Sacramento. You can read her humorous Momservations blog at www.momservations.com and follow her on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/Momservations.

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