Best Fall Festivals 2012 in South Florida: Hayrides, Pumpkin Patches, and Corn Mazes
Wikicommons: Benjamin D. Esham
It might be hard to believe from the weather outside, but Autumn 2012 officially began on September 22. But just because we live in the only Zone 10 in the contiguous United States doesn't mean we can get a little taste of fall fun. There are pumpkin patches, hayrides, and harvest-time fun all over Broward and Palm Beach counties.
11. Bedner's Farm Fresh Market
Tucked away on 441 in Boynton Beach, Bedner's Farm and farmers' market is the kind of old-fashioned country gem you don't find often these days. And this time of year, it has a full pumpkin patch where you can plop down the little ones and snap a memorable photo. In addition to the pumpkin patch, there's a hayride, a corn maze, and -- new this year -- the Fun Field, which includes duck races, a rock-climbing wall, and laser tag. Hayrides are $3, admission to the corn maze is $3, and the wristband for the Fun Field is $10 -- or all three for $13. The fall activities are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
10. Flamingo Gardens
On October 13, Flamingo Gardens will present its Harvest Fest & Third Annual Great Scarecrow Competition from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The botanical garden becomes the boo-tanical garden, where participants are invited to create their own scarecrow to be displayed in the garden until November 1. The scarecrows should be brought to the garden and set up between 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, October 12, and 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday. At the Harvest Fest, somewhere between the hayrides, Fall Market, scavenger hunt, and autumn crafts, the scarecrows will be judged with the winners announced at 2 p.m. Entry in the contest is free, but the prizes are not -- $100 for first place, $50 for second, and $25 for third. Admission to the park is half price for the day.
9. Flamingo Road Nursery
The nursery holds its Fall Harvest Festival all
month long. In addition to apple sampling and garden talks, this
landscapers' mecca has a pumpkin patch and pumpkin painting, plus
horse-drawn hayrides ($4) and face painting ($4) on Saturdays and
Sundays starting October 6. Great place to pick up gourds and a hay bale
8. Batten's Farmers' Market
Battens Farmers' Market in Davie was closed all summer but reopened September 28. It will have a pumpkin patch beginning October 20. There's a Halloween movie night and hayrides on Friday, October 26, and pumpkin carving and pony rides on Saturday, the 27th. A petting zoo is open every day except Wednesdays. Be sure to pick up milk shakes and fresh jams and jellies.
Home of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, Cinema Paradiso will play host to the ghosts on Halloween night. In addition to a pumpkin patch, the family-friendly event includes a Halloween short film program, a costume contest, a scream contest, and a horse-drawn hayride around the New River. Late night, after the kiddies have gone home to bed, it's time for the grown-up ghouls to come out to play. The horror film Night of the Living Dead will be screened at 10:15 p.m., and there will be scary cocktails.
Churches might not be big on Halloween, but the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church's Harvest Fest from 6 to 9 p.m. October 26 is far from ghoulish. There will be a carnival, face painting, dunk tank, hayrides, pie and chili contests, and games. Food trucks will be on hand to feed the masses. Admission and participation are free; the church asks only for canned-good donations to help restock its food pantry.
Open seven days a week, the Little Farm in Miami (technically located in Goulds) has a pumpkin patch from October 6 to October 31. There's no entry fee (though parking costs $5), and kids get a free pony ride with every pumpkin purchased. Proceeds from the first 500 pumpkins sold ($7 to $30) go to charity. Pony rides alone cost $2. Whereas some modern-day pumpkin patches are charging a fee for anyone who wants to snap pictures on-site, there's no such nonsense here. Be sure to check out the petting zoo with goats, sheep, geese, turkeys, pigs, and chicks as well as the butterfly garden. Sorry, you can't milk the goats in October, but you can buy everything you need to make your own scarecrow.
4. Spookyville in Yesteryear Village (at the South Florida Fairgrounds )
Part Halloween event, part fall festival, Spookyville has kids covered with trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving. Held during the the two weekends prior to Halloween (Fri/Sat/Sun October 19-21 and 26-28), there will also be rides, games, and arts and crafts -- and plenty of "witches' brew" to drink. The $7 admission includes contests and candy, though pony rides are extra.
3. Boo at the Zoo
This hugely popular event at the Palm Beach Zoo is also a mashup -- between a Halloween party, fall festival, and an Animal Planet show. Held Friday through Sunday days -- and Friday nights -- on the two weekends prior to Halloween, this includes trick-or-treating, pumpkin decorating, and a haystack hunt, plus a Monster Mash dance party and roving animal demonstrations. Regular admission prices apply -- $18.95 for adults, $12.95 for kids 3 to 12.
2. Howling Hammock Adventure at Birch State Park
A fundraiser for Friends of Birch State Park, the Howling Hammock Adventure , taking place from 7 to 11 p.m. October 19 and 20, is now in its fourth incarnation. The main attraction is a haunted trail with scary/educational stations about giant bugs and such. The hayride -- or "carriage ride" -- is said to be enhanced this year. A park rep says it will be "a little bit scarier" and, as people who waited in an hourlong line last year will appreciate, there will be twice as many trips per hour. The garden club and Bonnet House will be running a pumpkin patch and stations for little kids. $7 adults, $5 kids.
1. D and D Family Farms
OK, so Palm City, located north in Martin County, is technically out of our coverage area, but what's an hour drive when there's a seven-acre corn maze at the end? Note -- the corn maze (this will be its first year) probably won't open until the end of October; it depends on how quickly the corn grows. Rain from Hurricane Isaac messed up the growing season. The good news: Once it's ready, it will be sophisticated enough that it takes 45 minutes to get through. It will stay open a few months and be open on Saturday and Sunday days and on Friday and Saturday nights -- when you'll need a flashlight to wind your way through. Cost is $11 for adults, $9 for kids.
Until the maze opens, D and D has a produce market and a petting zoo (free, with coin-operated feed dispensers) on-site with pigs, goats, cows, and chickens. Starting October 13, the farm will have fall fun events, including a free mini-maze that's made out of ropes and paving stones, plus hayrides, a "corn barrel train" (made from barrels and pulled by an ATV-type vehicle), and a bounce house. A U-pick area will open soon, with lettuce pickable by the end of October. Squash, tomatoes, eggplant, onion, and peppers will be ready later in the season.
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