CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Oct. 21, 2023) — A trip to an authentic rural pumpkin patch has long been a rite of fall, when the colors of the leaves begin changing with the arrival of crisper air and shorter days.
Even in this digital age, these pastoral experiences provide a feast for all the senses for suburban folks willing to take a drive.
But if venturing to the hinterlands to walk among a farm’s rows upon rows of prospective plump orange gourds isn’t in the cards, corner pumpkin patches have sprouted up – with many known for their carnival atmosphere.
If you are not willing to settle for bargain pumpkins offered in large bins at local supermarkets, here is a roundup of area patches for that traditional October outing.
ABC Tree Farms & Pick of the Patch Pumpkins, 1765 Galindo St., Concord. Along with different varieties of pumpkins, there is an array of family-friendly activities – from pumpkin accessories to a seasonally decorated “memory zone” to capture those priceless photos of the little ones. Parking and admission are free, and kids can enjoy different inflatables with a paid wristband. There are also fees for the paintball range and pony rides. The lot is open through Oct. 31, 2-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 2-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. The entrance is on Concord Boulevard. Turn right onto Concord Boulevard from Galindo Street, and the entry is about 100 feet on the left hand side.
Shadelands Ranch Pumpkin Patch, 2660 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek. Admission is free for families who just want to park and purchase pumpkins. There is a $4 fee to partake in the array of activities such as puzzle games, connect four, dual basketball hoops, a hay maze, corn hole and nightly, kid-friendly movies. The lot is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily through Oct. 31.
Angela’s Pop-Up Pumpkin Patch, Hidden Valley Park, Morello Avenue and Chilpancingo Parkway, Martinez. Admission is free to seek out the perfect pumpkins and enjoy fall-themed activities 2-4:30 p.m. Oct. 22, but space is limited. Free e-tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com.
G&S Farms, 2490 Sellers Ave., Brentwood. Visitors can pick pumpkins straight from the field, with prices starting at $2 and going up to $40 for the special jumbos. Parking and admission are free as are activities including lawn games, pumpkin bowling and a corn pit. There is a charge for the farm’s pumpkin launchers. The patch is open 2-6 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends through Oct. 29 and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 30 for the final day.
Three Nunns Farm, 550 Walnut Blvd., Brentwood. Admission is $12 a person, which includes a tractor ride from the parking lot and access to the corn mazes and other farm play and adventure areas. Pumpkins are 75 cents per pound, and paid guests get a five-pound credit off the total pumpkin weight. There are more than 40 acres for exploring, and they encourage children (and parents) get as dirty as possible. Wearing closed-toe shoes is recommended – as is keeping a close eye on little ones. There are plenty of wagons and free parking. Ride tickets, including the corn coaster and berry-go-round, are $3 each. Those who do not wish to ride out to the patch can buy pumpkins at the farm’s roadside stand. The patch is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
Smith Family Farm Pumpkin Harvest, 4350 Sellers Ave., Brentwood. A $15 admission price per visitor, 2 years old and up, is all-inclusive. It entitles the guest to one pumpkin from the patch and partaking in all the activities, including live music, a barnyard animal area, herb garden, game area, pumpkin galleries, photo ops, observation beehive and special events. There are additional charges for food and drinks, country store souvenirs, and arts and crafts items on weekends. A corn cracking station is also available on weekends, when children can help feed the chickens as well as take part in staff-supervised encounters with baby chickens, geese and turkeys. The farm is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through Halloween. Meanwhile, Smith’s roadside fruit stand has a variety of pumpkins in stock, plus mini pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks and other fall decor. It closes an hour after the Pumpkin Harvest, at 6 p.m.
David Scholz is back in journalism as a freelance writer and photographer after nearly two decades in education. Prior to moving into teaching in 2000, he worked as a full-time journalist since 1988 for rural community and small daily newspapers in Central Ohio and Northern Nevada, and later in California with The Business Journal in Fresno and dailies in the Bay Area, including The Oakland Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle. More recently Scholz also worked in an editing, writing, and page layout role with the Rossmoor News.