It’s not Halloween without a jack-o-lantern and what’s fall without the traditional brisk (OK in San Diego it may be hot) walk through the pumpkin patch with a cup of cider looking for the perfect one to place on the porch? From North County to the South Bay and the mountains to the beach there’s more than enough hayrides, corn mazes and, of course, pumpkins to put a smile on anyone’s face. Here are the top locations to find the perfect pumpkin.
15954 Woods Valley Rd., Valley Center; (760) 749-3333
Five generations of the Bates family have been taking care of the 5,000-acre farm in Valley Center for nearly 90 years, and their pumpkin patch has become somewhat of a tradition for many families over the last 50 years. The farm includes 5,000 square feet of retail space where you can buy nuts, fudge, candies, dried fruits and chocolates, hayrides, straw maze, petting zoo and pony rides. Weekend activities include rock climbing, face painting and food trucks. The pumpkin patch is open every day in October and parking is $5 on weekends. The farm is open weekdays from 9 to 5:30 p.m., weekends from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the last three Fridays in October from 3 to 8 p.m.
842 Highway 78, Ramona; (760) 788-8703
Nestled in the rural serenity of Ramona is the Mountain Valley Ranch pumpkin patch, which also has a corn maze, corn cannon, petting zoo and hay and pony rides. The patch, which is celebrating 21 years, is open all day on weekends and 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Admission is free.
14950 El Monte Rd., Lakeside; (619) 390-2929
Oma’s Pumpkin Patch in Lakeside is guaranteed fun for your little one. A child admission includes a Jack Patch Pumpkin, a bottle of water, playground equipment, a climb on Cottonseed Mountain, sand pile with toys trucks, covered hayrides around the farm, hay bale maze, petting corral and the pedal cart/tricycle race track. Admission is $12 per child and the farm is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Various locations; (858) 566-7466
The pumpkin stations in Del Mar, Mission Valley, National City and El Cajon all have rides and some locations have petting zoos for family fun. The Rancho Bernardo Farm and the Bonita Pumpkin Farm both have farm animals, hayrides and a corn maze.
5178 Japatul Spur Alpine, CA 91901; (619) 320-4942
The Great Annual Pumpkin Festival in Alpine is at the Children’s Nature Retreat located on 20 acres harboring farm and exotic animals from around the world. There is a 6-foot hay maze and kids can “rock the hunt” to win a prize. The retreat is $15 for children and $25 for adults and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
2115 Miller Ave. & 1980 Summit Dr., Escondido; (760) 738-9014
Farm Stand West and Fran’s Original Farm Stand both have a you-pick pumpkin patch. The patches are open daily and admission is free.
870 Garnet Ave. San Diego, CA 92109; (858) 483-0329
With your free cup of cider, you can stroll through the pumpkin patch and also look for Halloween decorations. There’s also a free pumpkin carving and painting area. The patch is open daily and is free of charge.
6710 La Jolla Blvd. San Diego, CA 92037; (844) 452-2567
Mr. Jack ‘O’ Lantern’s Pumpkin Patch in La Jolla is an entire carnival. There’s a photo station, tumbling tombstones, ping pong toss, “animal kingdom,” candy corn hole, pumpkin bowling and many more games. An all-day pass is $15 or tickets for games are $1 each. The patch is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
4444 State Hwy 78, Wynola/Julian; (951) 313-0166
At the Julian Mining Company, you can get a pumpkin, pick apples and mine for gold all while enjoying the seasonal briskness of the mountains.
15602 Olde Highway 80, El Cajon; (619) 390-1523
Just off historic Old Highway 80, Summers Past Farms not only has pumpkins but flower gardens and a certified wildlife habitat. The farm is family owned and open Thursday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.