With autumn in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about picking that perfect pumpkin. Mostly open through Halloween, there are plenty of patches across San Diego County where families can feel festive in their all-important search for a gorgeous gourd to call their own.
Bates Nut Farm
15954 Woods Valley Rd., Valley Center; (760) 749-3333
For more than 50 years, many locals have considered a visit to this North County farm a fall tradition, including its famed Pumpkin Patch. Grab a wheelbarrow and take your pick: from Big Macs, Ghost, Cinderella, and Jack O’ Lantern pumpkins to minis, squash and other gourds. On the weekends, the patch features live entertainment, plus BBQ, food trucks and other fun, family-friendly activities, including pony and tractor rides – definitely enough going on to make a full day of it. Parking is $5 (cash only) on weekends in October but free on weekdays. The Bates Pumpkin Patch is open now through Oct. 31.
The Farm Stand West
2115 Miller Ave. & 1980 Summit Dr., Escondido; (760) 738-9014
The Farm Stand West off Interstate 15 in Escondido boasts a Pick-It-Yourself Pumpkin Patch, with lots of gorgeous gourds from which to choose. This farm is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The location also plans to host a Fall Festival on Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 with plenty of pumpkin picking opportunities.
Pumpkin Stations by Pinery Farms
Various locations; (858) 566-7466
The Pumpkin Station runs at five San Diego County locations through Oct. 31: Del Mar; Rancho Bernardo; Mission Valley; National City (Plaza Bonita); and Bonita. Rancho Bernardo and Bonita are farms with tractor hay-wagon rides and corn mazes while the rest are pop-up style stations with their own crop of activities including rides, giant slides, inflatable play centers, petting zoos, game zones for kids and train rides. Hours vary by location, so check this website before heading out. Admission and parking is free across all five locations and you can even snag a free train ride by printing out and bringing this coupon.
39925 Calle Contento, Temecula; (951) 695-1115
This authentic, family-owned pumpkin farm in Temecula, just north of San Diego County, opens on Sept. 28. There, in addition to pumpkins, visitors will find all sorts of attractions including a petting farm, gem mining, pig races, carnival rides, and pony and train rides. Admission is $2 for all guests, but little ones under the age of 2 are free with a paid adult. Activities cost between $2 and $6 apiece.
Oma’s Pumpkin Patch
14950 El Monte Rd., Lakeside; (619) 390-2929
For a $12 admission fee, children visiting this East County pumpkin patch receive a Jack Patch Pumpkin and access to all attractions and games, including a playground, petting corral, hay bale maze and covered hayrides around the farm. Adult admission (age 14 and up) is $5 and doesn’t include the pumpkin. This season, Oma's is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. It's closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Mountain Valley Ranch
842 Highway 78, Ramona; (760) 788-8703
Meander through fields of colorful pumpkins at this Ramona ranch, where visitors will also find hay rides, a petting zoo, and pony rides, plus a huge corn maze. This place is open daily this season from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., beginning Sept. 28. Admission is free.
Julian Farm and Orchard
4381 State Hwy 78, Wynola/Julian; (951) 312-9940
Get your gourds at this 25-acre farm in the charming little town of Julian in San Diego's East County. Julian Farm and Orchard is located about 3.5 miles from Main Street -- just look for the pumpkin signs and scarecrow. It is open only on Saturdays and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free; activities like apple cider pressing and archery cost $1.
Summers Past Farms
15602 Olde Highway 80, El Cajon; (619) 390-1523
Take a stroll through this El Cajon pumpkin patch and pick your winner. Weekends are especially lively here, with a jump house, popcorn, corndogs and a coffee bar in the country setting. This patch will be open all October, Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cannon Stand Carlsbad Pumpkin Patch
1050 Cannon Rd., Carlsbad; (760) 603-9608
The Cannon Stand in Carlsbad is known for its juicy strawberries but this time of year, it’s all about the pumpkins. Its pumpkin patch and corn maze opens on Sept. 27 and will feature food trucks, musicians, artists and local vendors. Keep checking the stand's website for hours and pricing.
Stehly Farms Organics
12630 Santa Catalina Rd., Valley Center; (760) 742-1186
For two days only -- Sept. 29 and Oct. 6 -- this farm in Valley Center will host a family-friendly pumpkin patch, complete with guided tractor tours, a petting zoo a corn maze, a playground and food vendors. Admission costs $8 per person; kids age 4 and under get in free.