The FresYes Pumpkin Patch Guide
It’s that spooky, sugary time of year! Halloween is just around the corner, and the children in your life are thinking about their costumes, candy and of course, carving pumpkins.
Pumpkin patches, like Christmas tree farms and corn mazes can be open one year, and not the next – due to the changing climate, varying rainy season (or lack thereof) and the year-to-year profitability and feasibility of patch operation. So, to make things easy, I wanted to provide you, dear FresYes readers, with a guide to the best bets for pumpkin patching fun this season.
Three Pumpkin Patch institutions remain on the list of places to go for a pumpkin in 2016, and a slightly further patch is quickly gaining fans from Fresno who say it’s well-worth the short drive.
Located on the northwest corner of Blackstone and Shaw, Pumpkin King is a “pop-up” patch smack dab in the middle of Fresno offering a wide variety of pumpkins (price range is $3-$25), squash, corn and corn husks for sale, pony rides, shaved ice, fall photos, bounce houses and a hay-bale maze. Parking is ample and admission is free. Hours are 9am to 9pm, 7 days a week.
Local mom, Melanie Unguez says, “We like taking [our son] to Pumpkin King on Shaw and Blackstone because they offer photo shoots. For something like $40, they have an area where they will take pictures of your kiddo and then give you a disc of all the pics. Ours turned out great last year!”
Something else extra special about Pumpkin King, is the patch’s long-standing commitment to helping fill the need for blood donations for local hospitals. Each year, Pumpkin King hosts the Great Pumpkin Blood Drive and offers free pumpkins to donors. This year, you can donate blood any Sunday between the hours of 10am at 6pm at Pumpkin King, and as a thank you, receive a t-shirt, pumpkin, slice of pizza, soda AND free admission to the bounce house!
Located in Reedley, CA, just 40 minutes southeast of Fresno, Hillcrest offers a wooded-wonderland of family fun with pumpkins, steam train rides, hay rides, concessions, nature trails and play areas. Of all the patches, this is the one I hear touted most often as the favorite.
“They have everything for kids of all ages! Train rides, hayrides, a corn maze, eats and drinks, and of course some amazing pumpkins from all of the pumpkin families!” says Visalia resident, Shari Charron.
Hillcrest does have a per vehicle fee this year of $5/car on the 1st, 2nd and last weekends of the month, and $10 per car on the peak second and third weekends. 2016 operating hours are 10am to 5pm, Saturdays and Sundays, and their treehouse party area is available with advance reservation.
Located in eastern Fresno, en route to Sanger, Simonian Farms offers back in time, wild-west style fun with their year round ice cream and retro soda shop, shooting gallery and gold-panning area. During the month of October, Simonian offers a pumpkin patch complete with Halloween costume accessories gift shop, a haunted house and hay bale maze. Entrance is free, and while you’re there, you can also stock up on locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as artisan made local jams, jellies, wines and candies. Our family went to this patch last year, and had a really nice time. Simonian Farms is open from 9am to 6pm daily.
Last, but far from least…
Quickly gaining steam and becoming a highly-praised favorite amongst Fresnans is Atwater’s Hunter Farms. Hunter Farms began operating their pumpkin patch in fall of 2013, and each year their attractions have increased and their popularity has grown. This year, Hunter offers pumpkins, both a corn and hay maze, fall photos, a petting zoo, a hay pyramid for climbing, a trike track, a tractor train ride that takes passengers through historical scenes, simulated gold mining and a “barnyard bounce” (giant, outdoor bouncing surface).
Open daily from 10am until dusk, and with such a wide variety of offerings, Hunter Farms is sure to delight guests both young and old. And, with reasonable pricing including an unlimited attraction wristband for $10, families will likely return year after year.
For additional information on any of the patches mentioned, click the name of the patch to be directed to their website or Facebook page.