You don’t have to be a pumpkin-spice-chugging, scarf-and-boot-lovin’, leaf collecting autumn super fan to appreciate that fall has finally arrived. While many complain that spring is too allergen-laden, summer is too hot and winter is too cold, fall is a season for everyone. It unites us all with its golden, leafy beauty, bright orange pumpkin patches, cooler temps that breeze across your skin as you pick apples with friends and family and spectacular events that all ages can enjoy.
No one ever gets angry that Halloween candy and spooky decorations are on the store shelves “too early”. No one complains that the leaves have turned (ok, we admit there are probably a few grumpy souls feeling slightly ragey as they rake the lawn for the third time in a week). You won’t hear someone mutter “already?!” when the costume shops pop up in the graveyards of closed retail shops. Instead, you’ll be treated to excited cheering when cider hits the shelves, everyone pulls out their sweaters and hoodies with joy, and everyone begins searching tirelessly for maximum fall fun. Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of fall traditions that everyone loves — pumpkin patches, apple picking and more!
Diana’s Pumpkin Patch
Wander mile-high corn (see what we did there) at this fun family farm that includes your choice of jack-o-lantern style pumpkins. (Cool fact: Diana’s Pumpkin Farm also offers some pretty wild pumpkins for purchase, think knobby pumpkins, multi-color and more.) Located along Hwy. 115 on the way to Royal Gorge, the walls of this maze are super high and very dense, so you really can’t peek or cheat in any way as you traverse its twists and turns. It’s very easy to lose your way, so bring water and a cornfield battle buddy to help you find your way back to civilization. The pumpkin patch crew makes a brand-new maze each year, so even if you’ve been before, it’s always worth re-visiting. Add hay rides and corn slides and you’ve got yourself a day to remember. And like we said, the Royal Gorge is right nearby, so maybe head over before or after for rides, views and entertainment. This patch runs Friday-Sunday Sept. 21 through Oct. 31. Cost is $13 a person and includes a free pumpkin as long as they are available. More details at www.dianaspumpkinpatch.com.
Western Mining Museum Pumpkin Patch
Launching with an epic Harvest Festival on Oct. 5 & 6, the Western Mining Museum Pumpkin patch is a real treat — no tricks. The two-day festival that opens the patch will feature fresh cider, fall treats, bounce houses, food trucks and vendors, slightly spooky (but family-friendly) stories and, of course, pumpkin picking. During the rest of the month, everyone can enjoy hayrides, gem panning, corn hole, giant yard Jenga and an apple cider press (and the resulting cider). We also recommend you hit the photo booth — wearing the aforementioned fall sweaters — and capture some silly shots for posterity. Mixed among the activities on the museum’s historic grounds are pieces of mining machinery, friendly helpers and all sorts of festive fall touches that will totally catapult you into a delightfully awesome autumn overload (if that’s even possible). This patch runs October every weekend in October and by special appointments on weekends. Cost is $10 per person and includes a free pumpkin. More details at www.minerspumpkinpatch.com.
Happy Apple Farm
Colorado’s short seasons may make it feel like fresh-fruit-pickin’ is totally out of reach. It’s not! At Happy Apple Farm in Penrose, Colorado. What can you pick at the farm? Apples, of course, and berries, too (check the website to see what’s still on the stem there). Admission, hayrides, berry containers and apple bags are free. Fresh-picked apples cost $2.09 a pound and blackberries cost $5.75 per pound. And because it’s not really fall without pumpkins, you can pick your own there, too. Pumpkins cost you $0.65 per pound. We’re not done yet. When you’re all done picking produce, you can add a bushel of roasted chilis for $30, cider and a whole lot of tasty options including pie, cobbler, donuts and paninis. For those trying to watch their budgets, this is an excellent choice, allowing you to pick and choose your activities. (Local’s tip: You’re only about 25 miles away from another budget-friendly activity that is only open until Sept. 30. The May Bug Museum is worth the extra drive.) This apple and pumpkin farm is open Wednesday thru Sunday 9:00am till 4:30pm, with cider available on the weekends. More details at www.happyapplefarm.com.
Wishing Star Farm
If meeting cool farm animals is more your speed, but you still want to snag yourself an orange globe of joy, there’s a little farm east of Colorado Springs you might want to get to know. Wishing Star Farms has all sorts of cool critters you can meet and pet, including chickens, ponies and more. Watch a duck race, ride a pony ($) or just explore the pens to find the coolest barnyard animals in eastern Colorado. And of course, there are pumpkins, which you can score for $4 each. Choose your favorite, then enjoy an old-fashioned hay ride on the plains, “swim” in the corn bin or scale a gigantic hay pyramid. There’s even a pedal cart track ages 7-adult. This year, Wishing Star is also offering yard games like giant checkers, giant Jenga, and a sling shot game. It’s rural farming fun at its absolute best! Open Wednesday through Sunday starting Sept. 19 through Oct. 31. Cost is $10 a person, pumpkins and pony rides are $4. More details at www.wishingstarfarm.com.
Third Street Apples
Like Happy Apple, Third Street Apples is located in Penrose and offers U-pick apples for $1.99 per pound. They have lots and lots of varieties through October. You can also pick up a pumpkin for $0.60 a pound, enjoy honey from the orchard’s resident bees, and Colorado peaches (already picked). The peaches will run you $1.99 a pound, or, if you are particularly ambitious about your fruit utilization, you can snag a 22-24 lb. box for $30. If you head to Penrose on Oct. 4, you’ll be treated to Penrose Apple Day, a parade, street fair with vendors, food and FREE apple pie at noon.
Open Thursday through Monday. More details at thirdstreetapples.com.
Hayrides and corn mazes and pumpkins, oh my! Looks like a busy fall is in store, filled with pumpkin carving, farm fun and more! Not to mention all the baking you’ll be doing with the apples and fresh fruit you score on your journey. Pull on your favorite sweater, load your thermoses with cider or hot cocoa and let autumn activities commence. (Final thought: We’re totally open to sampling your fruit-filled concoctions — no pressure though.)