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, 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 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., plus BBQ, food trucks and other fun, family-friendly activities, including pony and tractor rides – definitely enough to do to make a full day of it. Parking is $5 (cash only) on the weekends in October. The Bates pumpkin patch is open through Oct. 31.
The Farm Stand West
2115 Miller Ave. & 1980 Summit Dr., Escondido; (760) 738-9014
The Farm Stand West and Fran’s Original Farm Stand in Escondido both boast a Pick-It-Yourself Pumpkin Patch this month, with lots of gorgeous gourds from which to choose. Both patches are open daily.
Pumpkin Stations by Pinery Farms
Various locations; (858) 566-7466
This particular Pumpkin Station is up and running at six different San Diego County locations through Oct. 31: Del Mar; Rancho Bernardo; Mission Valley; El Cajon; National City; Bonita. Besides pumpkin picking, each site offers rides, giant slides, inflatable play centers, petting zoos, game zones for kids, a corn maze and train rides. Bonus: print out this coupon ahead of time for one free ride on the train.
39925 Calle Contento, Temecula; (951) 695-1115
This authentic, family-owned pumpkin farm in Temecula, just north of San Diego County, is open daily all month, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and boasts all kinds of fun attractions, including a railroad ride on a 12-passenger train through the pumpkin patch and pig races.
Oma’s Pumpkin Patch
14950 El Monte Rd., Lakeside; (619) 390-2929
For a $10 admission fee, child visitors to 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 and pick out your perfect match. Mountain Valley Ranch, celebrating its 20th anniversary, also offers hayrides, a petting zoo, and pony rides, plus a huge corn maze with the opportunity to purchase Indian corn and popping corn grown fresh on the farm. This place is open daily this season from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Julian Mining Company
4444 State Hwy 78, Wynola/Julian; (951) 313-0166
Get your gourds at this Julian patch. While you’re there, you might enjoy picking your own apples as well, or panning for gold – a popular activity in the town of Julian.
Summers Past Farms
15602 Olde Highway 80, El Cajon; (619) 390-1523
Take a stroll through this El Cajon pumpkin patch this month 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 is open Wednesday through Sunday until 5 pm.
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 month, it’s all about the pumpkins. A patch is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., offering gourds for days. This spot also features a corn maze, which is $5 to $7 a pop for kids and adults, and tractor and hayrides on the weekends.
Stehly Farms Organics
12630 Santa Catalina Rd., Valley Center; (760) 742-1186
For one day only -- Oct. 8, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., this farm in Valley Center will host a family-friendly pumpkin picking day, complete with tractor rides, a petting zoo and a corn maze. Admission is $7 per person, while kids ages 4 and under are free. Everyone gets a pumpkin with paid admission.