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 in San Diego where families can feel festive this fall in their all-important search for a 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 noon 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 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, with lots of gorgeous gourds from which to choose at both locations. These patches are open daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Pumpkin Stations by Pinery Farms
Various locations; (858) 566-7466
This particular Pumpkin Station is up and running at five different locations throughout San Diego County through Oct. 31: Del Mar; Rancho Bernardo; Mission Valley; National City; and Bonita. Besides pumpkin picking, each site offers rides, giant slides, inflatable play centers, petting zoos and game zones for kids. Party packages and school tours are also available at these sites.
39925 Calle Contento, Temecula; (951) 695-1115
This authentic pumpkin farm in Temecula 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 hay rides around the farm. Adult admission (age 13 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 also offers hay rides, 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.
2570 Sunset Ave., South Bay; (619) 662-1780
This 120-acre farm will host Pumpkin Palooza on three Saturdays this month -- Oct. 8; Oct. 15; Oct. 22 -- entire days dedicated to pumpkin picking on an organic, two-acre patch. This event, held on those dates from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is free and open to the public. Pumpkins are priced by size, ranging from $3 to $50.
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 the pumpkin patch this month and pick your winner. Weekends are especially lively here, with a jump house, popcorn, corndogs and other snacks in the country setting.
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.
Stehly Farms Organics
12630 Santa Catalina Rd., Valley Center; (760) 742-1186
For one day only -- Oct. 9, 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. Admission is $7 per person, while kids ages 4 and under are free. Everyone gets a pumpkin with paid admission.