Local mom and “Outdoors with Kids Boston” guidebook author, Kim Foley MacKinnon, shares her best family outing tips and picks with you as part of our guest blog series with the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Kids Outdoors Boston free online community.
Let’s be honest: it only takes so long to pick out a pumpkin, even if your kids like to examine every pumpkin in the patch for the perfect jack-o-lantern. My family likes to combine pumpkin-picking with something else, like a corn maze, a train ride, or a fall festival. Here are a few places to elevate your autumn outing.
Marini Farm in Ipswich, Massachusetts, is always a family favorite, with not only a pumpkin patch, but a popular corn maze (along with hayrides, bounce houses, and much more). This year the theme of the 8-acre, life-size maze is “Spookley the Square Pumpkin,” which involves a story about a square pumpkin and how he overcomes his differences in a round pumpkin patch. Spookley is the national “spokes pumpkin” for anti-bullying during the month of October. As you participate finding your way through the maze, you will learn about Spookley and his story. While you’re in Ipswich, stop by nearby Appleton Farms and Grass Rides, the country’s oldest working farm now managed by The Trustees of Reservations, for a chance to meet the cows, go on a cheese-making tour, or take a hike through miles of easy trails and bridle paths.
Head to the charming town of Jackson, New Hampshire in the White Mountains to check out the quirky Pumpkin People displays. Thanks to a local contest, businesses and homeowners go all out and craft pumpkin creations throughout the village for the month of October. You can take a self-guided tour (businesses offer maps). Along your way there or back, there will be plenty of spots to stop to pick pumpkins. If you’re looking for an extra chance to stretch your legs, take a kid-friendly hike up nearby Mount Kearsarge or Mount Potash and catch some views of the White Mountain National Forest.
Every weekend day in October at the historic, family-owned Pachet Brook Tree Farm in Tiverton, Rhode Island, you can go on a 30-minute hayride and pumpkin hunt. Look for scarecrows and other kid-friendly Halloween decorations and surprises (not at all scary) as you go through the woods and fields of the farm. At the end of the ride, you'll end up in a pumpkin patch. From 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekends and Columbus Day. On Oct. 4 and 5, you can also stop by the Norman Bird Sanctuary’s Harvest Fair in Middletown from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for children’s entertainment, field games, food trucks, and more.
Kids, trains, and pumpkins! What could be a better combination? The Pumpkin Patch Trolley in East Windsor at the Connecticut Trolley Museum is a great family activity. Ride an authentic trolley to a pumpkin patch, pick your favorite, and then return for decorating and games. The program runs Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Oct. 25, plus Columbus Day. Don’t miss the museum's collection of passenger and freight streetcars, interurban cars, elevated railway cars, service cars and locomotives.
And if you’re looking for ideas on kid-friendly pumpkin recipes, check out some local chefs’ favorites here.