October is the month to head out to the farm and pick a pumpkin. Here are some of the best pumpkin patches in Sonoma County.
Photo Courtesy of Sonoma County Regional Parks
If you're one of those many families who, over the past three decades, made it a tradition to pick a pumpkin from the Cardoza Ranch,
fear not. It's true that the Cardoza family sold their 1,737-acre Petaluma ranch to the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. But, the county didn't want this old tradition to die out. So now, it's sponsoring the Tolay Lake Park Fall Festival on the same site, full of pumpkins, hay rides, activities, and lots of memories.
- See photos of Tolay Fall Festival.
- Read about the sale of the Cardoza Ranch and the creation of the Tolay Festival in the Press Democrat.
- See a 1 minute video of the Tolay Festival on SonomaUncorked.com
Photo: J. Kamiyama
Peter Pumpkin Patch is located in the Two Rock Valley, where the hills are rolling and the views are expansive. As soon as you drive out there, you'll notice your blood pressure drop. The pumpkin patch offers plenty for the kids: They can dig for potatoes, pet farm animals, milk a cow. There's homemade pumpkin ice cream, hay rides, a hay maze, and starting in 2006, a new corn maze. Grown-ups like this patch because this is where Spring Hill Jersey Cheese is made, and they offer samples.
- See photos of Peter Pumpkin Patch.
- Read about Peter Pumpkin Patch in the Press Democrat.
- See a video of Peter Pumpkin Patch on SonomaUncorked.com
Photo Courtesy of Petaluma Pumpkin Patch
If you're stuck in traffic on Hwy. 101 by the Penngrove exit in Petaluma, you already know about this pumpkin patch. This is what everyone is slowing down to see. The big draw here is the A'Mazing Corn Maze. And it is amazing. I've seen plenty of exasperated adults push down corn stalks to make their own exit out of this tough maze. A tip: Before entering, buy the aerial picture postcard of the maze as a guide. (You'll still get lost.) Want even more? Try the maze in the dark on weekend nights.
- See photos of Petaluma Pumpkin Patch.
- Read about the Amazing Corn Maze in the Press Democrat.
Adobe is another big patch with "the works:" hay rides, horse rides, corn maze, pick-your-own veggies, etc. The big difference with this spot is that it's the only one visited by the Pumpkin Fairy Godmother®. On weekends, she roams about the patch, talking with kids and blessing their pumpkins with fairydust. Also of note, the corn maze is a huge 6 acres. For comparison, the Amazing Corn Maze in Petaluma, by 101, is 4 acres. But, this maze isn't nearly as difficult.
5. Grandma's Pumpkin PatchAs the name implies, Grandma's is a low-key, friendly, intimate kind of place. You can choose pumpkins, view the holiday crafts, make a macaroni necklace, climb the hay structure, run through the corn field, see the animals (miniature cow, rams, pigs, etc.) Bring a picnic and eat at the outdoor tables. If you're feeling wild and crazy, check out the selection of exotic pumpkins. This is a great place to bring kids because the whole thing is fenced in: Sit back, relax and let them run. Call for group info and reservations. Grandma's is at 17740 Healdsburg Ave. near the intersection of Lytton Springs Rd. just off Hwy. 101 in Healdsburg. 707-431-8058 firstname.lastname@example.org Hours: Daily 9 till dusk in October.
The folks here are very knowledgeable and they're passionate about sharing that knowledge, particularly about bees. You'll come for the pumpkins, you'll leave with a jar of honey.