The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting crisper, the leaves are starting to change color — so let the annual family pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch begin! There are plenty of pumpkin patches around the Bay Area to shop for the perfect pumpkin, get lost in a corn maze, and get up-close-and-personal with farm animals. Whether you stay close to home or want to venture further afield, here are some of the Bay Area’s best pumpkin patches to visit.
Marin County’s beloved Nicasio Valley Pumpkin Patch is opening for it’s 26th season, offering a stand-out selection of pumpkins, two hay mazes (one for the littles and one for older kids and grown-ups), and farm animal encounters. This year, weekend activities resume, including face painting, the petting zoo and hay rides; live music and Big Jim’s BBQ are also on the schedule. The 12-acre property offers plenty of space to for picnicking and groups.
Now in its 28th season, the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch grows and sells 16 varieties of squash and 9 varieties of gourds, but pony rides, farm animals and a corn kernel sandbox also keep the kids engaged. The biggest highlight, however, is fourth generation pumpkin farmer Jim Groverman’s 4-acre corn maze (he creates a new maze every year) — try it at night for an extra-spooky experience!
The Farmstand at the Gambonini Family Ranch, which opened in 2020, might not offer bounce houses and pony rides, but the no-frills Petaluma pumpkin patch does have a bountiful selection of pumpkins — the organically grown varieties are all edible, including Long Island cheese pumpkin, porcelain doll pumpkin and kakai. Choose from the farm’s pre-selected squash, or head out to the U-pick field and harvest your own. While you’re there, pick up some fall flowers, Indian corn, corn stalks, honey and sweet treats.
With two locations in San Francisco, Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch has been operating since 1979 and is a three-generation family business. Along with pumpkins of all sizes and shapes, Clancy’s stocks gourds, corn stalks and Indian corn. Don’t miss the crawl-through hay maze. In December, come back to shop for Christmas trees and holiday décor.
Owned and operated by third- and fourth-generation Oakland natives, the Uptown Oakland Pumpkin Patch moved to a new, larger location on Telegraph Avenue, but still offers the same attractions beloved by kids and kids at heart, including a four-story inflatable slide, petting zoo, bounce houses and mazes — oh, and of course pumpkins.
This East Bay Halloween “wonderland” — the Piedmont Avenue Pumpkin Patch — is accessed by walking through the Halloween store at 4414 Piedmont. Choose from more than a dozen varieties of pumpkins, plus corn stalks, corn, gourds and straw bales. If you can’t make it there, this pumpkin patch delivers all over the Bay Area, and can even set up a pumpkin patch at your location, complete with scarecrows and cobwebs.
Traffic on Highway 92 backs up for miles when Lemos Farm in Half Moon Bay opens for the season, and no wonder — this family-owned pumpkin patch offers plenty to keep the kids occupied for a couple of hours: pony rides, hay rides, train rids, a petting zoo, an inflatable slide, and even scary and nonscary haunted houses. Oh yeah, and of course there are pumpkins galore. New timed, advance-purchase tickets help to limit crowds this year.
For a simpler, pared-down pumpkin patch experience in Half Moon Bay, head to Farmer John’s. This fifth-generation family-run business grows a plethora of pumpkin varieties, including the Atlantic Giant, which can weigh anywhere from 250 to1,500-plus pounds! There are plenty of spots for a photo op here too, including an authentic Native American teepee and an old John Deere tractor that Farmer John (yes, there really is a Farmer John) once used on the farm.
In the heart of Silicon Valley, Webb Ranch operates year-round, offering horse riding programs, organic produce and U-pick berries. Come fall, the ranch’s pumpkin patch is buzzing with activities, including a bounce house; tractor hay rides; a petting zoo; and a creepy/crawly zoo with lizards spiders and frogs — plus, there’s a new haunted house inside a corn maze and a farm-themed obstacle course. Reservations are required for weekends. (Come back in December for Santa’s Village.)
More from Better:
- 31 Things to Do in October: Frankenstein in Berkeley, John Waters in Oakland, a Napa Beer Festival and More
- Local Love: 9 Films From the Bay Area to Watch at the Mill Valley Film Festival
- How to Protect Your Home from Wildfires: Home Hardening, Retrofits and Getting Wildfire Ready
Lotus Abrams has covered everything from beauty to business to tech in her editorial career, but it might be writing about her native Bay Area that inspires her most. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the San Francisco Peninsula, where they enjoy spending time outdoors at the area’s many open spaces protected and preserved by her favorite local nonprofit, the Peninsula Open Space Trust.