When it comes to fall family fun, it’s hard to beat a local pumpkin patch on a crisp, clear October day in Minnesota.
Not only are our local farms glorious in autumn — with beautiful fields of U-pick pumpkins and golden mazes of rustling corn stalks — they’re also packed with other kid-friendly attractions, including hayrides, bouncy houses, giant slides, petting zoos and, a Minnesota classic, corn pits!
And that’s only the beginning: You’ll also find pig races, gourd trebuchets, apple cannons and, increasingly, kiddie zip lines.
Check out the following local farms to make the most of this most picturesque season.
Lendt’s Pumpkin Patch
Grab a wagon and explore 40 acres of U-pick pumpkin fields.
Then check out the indoor corn pit featuring colorful characters.
Face painting and concessions are offered on weekends in October.
One-hour hayrides (available only by reservation Monday through Friday, and first-come-first-served on Saturday and Sunday) include one U-pick pumpkin per rider and feature three stops — the pumpkin fields, the farm’s beehives and the corn field, where each participant can pick an ear of Indian corn plus an ear of popping corn (that comes with microwave popping instructions).
Where: Wyoming, about 35 minutes northeast of St. Paul
When: Open daily through Oct. 31
Cost: Admission is free. U-pick pumpkins from the field are $4 each for any size, shape or color. Pre-picked pumpkins (weighing up to 200 pounds!) cost more. Hayride reservations on Monday through Friday — with a 15-person minimum and 120-person maximum are required — cost $8 per person. On Saturday and Sunday, hayrides are first-come-first-served and cost $3 per person.
Waldoch Farm Garden Center
Every fall, this 100-year-old farm and garden center is transformed into a family-fun mecca.
On weekends, check out hayrides, pony rides, a corn cannon, face painting and a food trailer with a menu full of kid-friendly staples.
Daily attractions include the pumpkin patch, a corn box, pedal carts and a barnyard with ponies, sheep, donkeys, horses, peacocks, chickens, and other poultry.
Where: Lino Lakes, about 25 minutes north of St. Paul
When: Open daily through Oct. 31
Cost: $12 for ages 3 and older
In 2015, this popular family farm was voted Best Pumpkin Patch in Minnesota by WCCO-TV viewers.
Here you’ll find trolley rides, a jumping pillow, pine-duck derby races, a pumpkin cannon, a petting zoo, a pumpkin-eating dragon, a sweet shop, a children’s play area, fun mazes, an animatronic pirate band, a mini train ride, a giant slide, trikes for kids and a 5-acre corn maze.
Special activities include a pirate impersonator, touch-a-tractor, tug-of-war and an exotic animal show on weekends and MEA Friday.
Where: Wyoming, about 35 minutes northeast of St. Paul
When: Open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and some Wednesdays through Oct. 31; other days are reserved for school groups
Cost: $9 to $14 plus tax for ages 3 and older depending on the day of the week; look online for coupons.
Apple Jack Orchards
Apple cannons! Jumping pillows! And a zip line for kids. Need we say more?
This farm boasts numerous best-apple-orchard honors from area news stations and even Huffington Post, which named it one of the “10 Best Places in America for Apple Picking.”
There’s also a corn pit, wagon rides, a cow train, an animal park, an apple cannon and a corn maze, plus U-pick and pre-picked pumpkins.
There’s a gift shop and market plus a cafe.
Where: Delano, about 30 minutes west of Minneapolis
When: Most fall-fun activities are Saturday and Sundays through Oct. 31; the free play area, animal park, farm cafe, store and bakery are open daily.
Cost: Admission is $5 and includes a wagon ride. Most attractions cost $3 each. All-access wristbands cost $10-$15 each.
Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze
This annual festival boasts Minnesota’s largest corn maze at nearly 20 acres, all just a short drive from Twin Cities’ urban core.
This year the maze will pay homage to the Minnesota Lynx.
We recommend budgeting two to three hours at this event to take full advantage of admission, which includes a corn pit, a play area, a petting zoo and other fun activities.
Hard-to-resist add-ons such as the climbing wall and pumpkin slinger cost extra.
Feel-good bonus: In the past 10 years of operating the maze, owners the Bouwman family have raised more than $200,000 for local charities including the Twins Community Fund, the Minnesota Wild Foundation and the Minnesota Military Family Foundation.
Where: Brooklyn Park, about 20 minutes northwest of Minneapolis
When: Open Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 27, plus Oct. 17–18
Cost: Tickets are $12 online or at the gate. Children shorter than 36 inches tall are admitted for free.
Emma Krumbee’s Orchard and Farm
This farm boasts a U-pick pumpkin patch as well as a 45-acre U-pick apple orchard, plus an annual Scarecrow Festival, now in its 37th year with 100 handmade scarecrows on display ranging from traditional to pop-culture characters from film and TV.
Other attractions for kids include a monster-truck play area, a goat trail and other farm animals, a tombstone forest, a barrel train, a giant haystack, all-terrain farm trikes, a pirate ship and more.
Fresh-baked apple goodies are available here, too, including apple flips and turnovers, caramel apples and fresh apple cider.
Stop at the 10,000-square-foot General Store for treats daily and/or buy concessions at the festival.
Inside the store, you’ll find reasonably priced meals at Fizzy’s Soda Fountain.
Stop by the Greenhouse & Farm Market for mums and more farm produce.
Where: Belle Plaine, about 45 southwest of Minneapolis
When: Open daily for the festival through Oct. 28
Cost: Scarecrow festival admission is $5.50 plus tax for ages 3 and older.
Sever’s Corn Maze and Fall Festival
Similar to Disney World, Sever’s is so beloved in Minnesota the venue has a Fast Pass line for pre-ticketed customers.
This year the festival will be at a new Shakopee location with three times the space, including a 14-acre corn maze, additional jumping pillows, more pumpkin blasters, new food and beverage options, a gift shop, expanded corn pits, 10 acres of pick-your-own pumpkins and a Safari North Wildlife Park.
When: Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Nov. 3, plus Oct. 17–18
Where: Shakopee, about 30 minutes southwest of Minneapolis
Cost: $17 for ages 4 and older at the door. Go online for discounted tickets and coupons. Some activities, such as the giant slide, face painting, pumpkin blasters and hay, camel and pony rides, cost extra.
Afton Apple Orchard
Want a challenge? Try six-plus miles of paths through the 15-acre corn maze.
When you tire of the twists and turns, pick your own apples or pumpkins on this 200-acre farm!
You’ll also find a jumping pad, a straw mountain, a tire hill, a petting farm, barrel train rides and hayrides.
We love the Johnny Combine play area, featuring a repurposed combine with slides and climbers coming out of it.
Best of all, there’s also a huge playground with a super-sized spider web feature, plus tire swings shaped like cars, motorcycles and elephants.
Where: Hastings, about 15 minutes southeast of St. Paul
When: Open daily through Oct. 31 for apple and pumpkin picking. Corn maze hours are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, plus MEA days, through Oct. 27 and other days by reservation. Apple festival dates are Sept. 28–29, Oct. 5–6 and 12–13 and will feature cider-pressing demonstrations, magic shows, cow train rides and live bluegrass and folk music.
Cost: Farm admission is $5 for ages 5 and older and $4 for ages 4 and younger. Some special activities cost extra (such as the jumping pad for $2). Admission to the corn maze, which includes access to a no-left turn straw bale maze, a rubber-hose maze and a rope maze, is $8 for ages 3 to 10 and $10 for ages 11 and older. Ages 10 and younger must be accompanied by a paid adult.
Tweite’s Family Farm
This fifth-generation family farm is a 1.5-hour drive from the Twin Cities, but its worth it for the staggeringly large (22 acres) Fun Park, featuring imaginative and exciting playscapes, including life-size Lincoln Logs, unlimited wagon rides, an enchanted forest with gnomes and fairies, giant board games, a trike-racing track and too many other homespun attractions to list here. Sadly, 2019 will be its last year of operation.
There’s also a 12-acre corn maze that’s smartphone compatible. Oversized mini golf (six holes in all) costs $4 per person.
When: Open weekends in October through Oct. 20, plus Oct. 19–21
Where: Byron, about 90 minutes southeast of St. Paul
Cost: There’s no charge to visit the pumpkin patch or the food court. Passes for the Fun Park and the corn maze are $10 and $8 respectively for ages 3 and older, or you can buy a combo pass for both attractions for $16.
Amanda Williams lives in rural Minnesota with her two energetic sons and husband.