Finding the perfect patch

Looking for fall fun? In Minnesota, you can find it pretty much anywhere in autumn with oodles of fall festivals, pumpkin patches and corn mazes. 

But where should you go this year? 

This was the question posed by Minnesota mama-blogger-Realtor Mary Beth Burgstahler.

The California native moved to Minnesota in 2013 and had visited a few patches with her husband and young son.

“But something told me that I was only scratching the surface of the wide array of places to choose from in the greater metro,” Burgstahler said, vowing to reach out to her community for more ideas. “The response was overwhelming. I hadn’t even heard of most of the places mentioned and it warmed my heart to read the enthusiasm in the responses.”

Next it was time for Burgstahler to see the farms for herself. After traveling far and wide, here are the results of her family’s travels! 


BEST SELECTION

Barten Pumpkins, New Prague: This family farm showcases all the diversity the gourd universe has to offer. Yes, you’ll find stereotypical, perfectly orange Halloween pumpkins. But you’ll also discover pie pumpkins, green pumpkins, bumpy pumpkins, ugly pumpkins and so on, plus tons of FREE activities — including caricature portraits, pony rides and hayrides — on Family Fun Saturdays.


BEST FOOD 

Pine Tree Apple Orchard, White Bear Lake: While everyone may not love pumpkin pie, it’s hard to find someone who won’t gobble up apple crisp. And this is best place to indulge in this warm, apple dessert (gluten free!), plus rollovers, cake donuts, pies, tarts and other treats, including “ciderdoodle” cookies. While you’re at it, you can pick your own pumpkins or choose from a batch of prepicked! On the weekends, catch live music, a hay ride and more.


BEST ATTRACTIONS

Pinehaven Farm, Wyoming: Pumpkin patches mostly cater to children. But parents and kids will love all the extras here, including nearly 30 unusual attractions like Farfel, a pumpkin-eating dragon show; pumpkin cannons; an authentic Indian teepee; tug-of-war; an automated pirate band; super-sized ladder ball; and gem mining; plus great food from various snack shacks. And — for a night when you definitely don’t have the kids in tow — there’s a terrifying Dead End Hayride, running through Nov. 2 this year, for ages 13 and up.


BEST OUTDOOR SCENERY

LuceLine Orchard, Watertown: If you’re heading to a pumpkin patch, you’re likely to spend a good portion of your day outdoors, so why not make it an adventure! Here you can explore 10 acres of pumpkins, walk a corn maze and stroll amid 10,000 apple trees and 4,500 grapevines, plus 80 acres of woods and wetlands to explore. Put on your hiking or running shoes, grab your dogs (leashed of course) and bring a pair of bird-watching-binoculars to spend a day basking in autumn beauty! Parents can end the day with a beer, wine or hard cider at The Dog House Pub. Kids can try the mini donuts.


BEST OVERALL

Afton Apple Orchard, Afton: This place has it all. You can pick your own pumpkins and apples — and even raspberries until mid-October (plus strawberries in summer). Then get lost in the 15-acre corn maze (and many other manmade mazes), meet farm animals, sample apple cider, see a magician show, go wild in a combine-themed playground, ride the cow train, bounce on the jump pad, try apple fritters at the “Corncession” stand (ahem) and take in the idyllic rural scenery. 


Mary Beth Burgstahler is a Twin Cities real estate agent who lives in Mound with her husband and 5-year-old son. You can find her blog at thefreshagent.wordpress.com.