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The Appeal of the Pumpkin Patch: Pumpkin Picking California-Style

By September 1, 2018September 27th, 2018No Comments


Halloween is almost here and with it comes fall weather (at least for most of the country…here in California, it’s as warm as ever) and holiday traditions. One of the most exciting family traditions can be kept whether you’re at home or on the road in October—a visit to the local pumpkin patch. You can go pumpkin picking – even in California!

No matter where you live, have a look at this handy site that lists all the pumpkin patches corn mazes and more across the country!

Picking the Perfect Pumpkin

Obviously, you visit the pumpkin patch so that your little ones can pick out a pumpkin to carve. But this is also a great spot for all photos of your little ones. Grab your camera or bring a photographer friend! They can help capture some festive images of your kids surrounded by a sea of pumpkins. Then walk through the rows to help your kiddos select the perfect orange gourd right off the vine while you brainstorm jack-o-lantern ideas.

Our local patch in Orange County, California is part of Tanaka Farms. It’s a 30-acre working farm that also offers strawberry and watermelon picking tours, as well as a Christmas tree farm in December. Tanaka Farms, like many local patches, has various Halloween and fall-themed wooden signs with face cutouts scattered among the pumpkins for other fun photo opportunities. There is also a pile of pumpkins and, on weekends, the farm has a pumpkin cannon where they shoot out and smash up the gourds.

Be sure to stash your pumpkins in the car or saving the picking for last because, these days, there is much more to do than just pick out pumpkins.

big pumpkin pile in California

Added Fun in the Fall Sun

Tanaka Farms offers so many exciting things for families to do together and we took advantage of all of them. Colorful wooden signs point visitors in the right direction.  You won’t miss a thing and prices are per individual activity so you don’t have to pay for the ones you don’t want to do.

Tractors pull large wooden wagons around the massive farms, showing kids the other produce grown on the property. Orange County is extremely developed so this little slice of nature is a special treat and helps teach little ones about farming.

Tanaka Farms' Pumpkin Patch has a corn maze that is great fun for families.

More and more pumpkin patches have corn mazes these days and personally it’s my favorite thing to do. For some healthy competition, split up to see who can reach the center first. Getting lost in the tall green corn is an adventure in and of itself! It’s especially exciting for little ones who feel that slight fear of whether or not they’ll make their way to the end. At Tanaka Farms, the center of the maze is filled with life-size wooden characters—the cartoon grapes, ears of corn and strawberries will make children smile.

There is also a petting zoo filled with farm animals like sheep, goats and llamas. Little ones under two get in free, but the price is right for older kids as well. Nearby, there is a crafts section for kiddos too.

Directly next to the pumpkin patch, you can also taste and pick your own vegetables. Tanaka Farms’s vegetable garden has carrots, green beans, radishes, onions and more. This is fun for kids and less crowded than the pumpkin patch itself.

On the weekends, there is even more going on, with snacks available for purchase, games to play and ATV rides.

Here’s a few other options for pumpkin picking in California counties:

So if the pumpkin patch is an annual tradition for your family, look around for one of these all-inclusive farms. The California farms offer numerous activities and chances to explore. It makes picking out a pumpkin an exciting all-day event that allows families to bond while getting in the Halloween spirit.

The pumpkin patch at Tanaka Farms in California

Ashley Ryan

Author Ashley Ryan

Ashley Ryan is a southern California native with a background in journalism and anthropology. She loves learning about other cultures and combines her passions for traveling, writing and photography in her professional work. To learn more or get in touch, visit

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