With the distinction of being the largest producer of pumpkins in the United States, there is no doubt here in Illinois we know how to do autumn right.
Based on the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture data, more than 500 farms grow pumpkins on 16,000 plus acres of Illinois land.
Many of these pumpkins will end up canned and eventually become ingredients in Thanksgiving pies and other treats.
However, the rest will be picked by families many while out for a day of adventure on a pumpkin farm to be carved or adorned with glitter and paint as Halloween decorations.
The Northern Illinois region features are an assortment of ways to celebrate the fall season between festivals like the Annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival to pumpkin farms that range from small you-pick mom and pop stands to expansive farm operations.
One of the largest and longest-running festivals is the Annual Sycamore Pumpkin Festival held in downtown Sycamore and beginning Oct. 26.
The festival, celebrating its 55th anniversary, is now a five-day event that includes two carnivals, two large indoor craft shows, many non-profit vendors, fireworks, a 10k race, and music entertainment. It also boasts thousands of decorated pumpkins and this year’s parade marshal, Orion Samuelson, agribusiness director at WGN Radio in Chicago.
For those interested in fall fun on a farm there are a wide variety whose offerings ranging from toddler-size corn mazes to nighttime strolls through pitch-black haunted forests for the teens to enjoy or fear and just about everything else in between:
Abbey Farms of Marmion Abbey Pumpkin Daze
2855 Hart Rd. Aurora, (630) 966-7775, www.abbeyfarms.org/pumpkin-daze/
Run primarily by volunteers with proceeds benefiting the monks of Marmion Abbey, activities include duck races, tractor wagon rides, teepee town, rope maze, pirate ship, pedal carts, combine slide, lasso challenge, kids’ zip line (12 and under), kids mini sled hill, bouncing rodeo ride, jumping pillow, log balancing beam course, tractor tire hill, community fire pit, and giant checkers.
Extra charge for corn cannon range, bouncing cow train, and human hamster ball.
On weekends there is an extra charge for the night corn maze $7. Craft beer tent available on weekends.
Admission: weekdays $10, no petting zoo, limited concessions. Weekend and holiday admission: $14. Seniors and military ID $6, children three and under free. A three-weekend pass $35.
Hours: Closed Monday. Open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday Night Maze: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Johansen Farms Children’s Zoo, Pumpkin Farm & Fall Festival
710 W Boughton Rd., Bolingbrook, (630)759-8711, www.johansenfarmszoo.com/spring/
New attractions for 2016 include a miniature golf course and new inflatable obstacle course. Petting zoo including baby chicks, train rides, hayrides, corn maze, airslides, bounce house, hay tunnel, and rides for toddlers. Pony rides on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Concessions include bake shop and snack bar.
Hours: Open daily 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. through Oct. 31.
Admission: Weekdays $9.50, weekends and holidays $13.50. Children under 23 months free, seniors $ 9.00 and free for those with military ID.
Lindberg Family Pumpkin Patch
3178 Illinois Route 173, Caledonia, (815) 765-2587, www.thegreatpumpkinpatch.com
New owners have taken over the three-decade Rockford area institution are no strangers having farmed nearby for five generations. They promise affordable family fun for all ages, including a seven-acre corn maze, barnyard petting zoo, the World’s Largest Pumpkin, old-fashioned wagon rides plus workshops on pumpkin carving, taffy-apple making, and scarecrow stuffing.
There’s also a cafe and bakery, gift shop and a separate location for Halloween costume accessories.
Hours: 9 a.m.-dusk.
Admission: free, tickets are $1 each and attractions take between 1-5 tickets.
Dollinger Family Farm
7420 East Hansel Road, Channahon, (815) 467-6766., www.Dolingerfarms.com
This farm includes animals, petting zoo, playground, machine shed, bee barn, and teepee. New this year a corn bin play area. Additional activities include four acre corn maze ($3 per person)
Weekends and Columbus Day only steam train rides $3 per person, hayrides $6 per person, face painting $3 to $6. Special weekend themes include Oct. 8 and 9 Revolutionary War weekend, Oct. 10 Chainsaw Sculpting, Oct. 15 and 16 Civil War weekend, and Oct. 23 Big Run Wolf Ranch.
Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. through Oct. 30.
Admission: free. Additional charge for certain activities.
Siegel’s Cottonwood Farms
17250 Weber Road, Lockport, (800) 304-3276, www.ourpumpkinfarm.com/
This year’s 15-acre corn maze pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of the fall classic It’s a Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with a Snoopy themed corn maze.
Other activities include pumpkin drop, baby chick nursery, barnyard play land, puppet show, bounce house, haunted barn, ziplines, ghost town railroad, hayrides out to the u-pick pumpkin patch, John Deere grain train, giant slide, tire mountain, play areas, corn sand box, military-style obstacle course, jumping farm animals, and the opportunity to meet and take photos with Pumpkin Princess and her friends. Additional charge for zombie paintball ride, lil’ sniper paintball, jumping pillow, pony rides, gem mining, climbing wall and spooky spiral. Hayrides out to u-pick pumpkin patch.
Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission $15 per person, children two and under are free.
Windy Acre Farms
37W446 Fabyan Pkwy. Geneva., windyacresfarmstand.com/
From tractor rides to the pumpkin patch, the fall festival includes kiddie train, education barn, mini golf, inflatable obstacle course, petting zoo, children’s play area, rock climbing playground, peddle tractors, rubber ducky races, rope toss, corn maze, bounce houses, and a 30-foot inflatable slide.
Hours: Open weekdays 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends through Oct. 31.
Admission: Adults $7 per person, children two years and older $13, children under two free, seniors $5. Daily Specials Monday: Free Donut Day (one per person with full paid entry), Tuesday: Free Gourd Day (one per person with full paid entry), Wednesday: Northern Illinois Food Bank Day $1 off entry with canned food donation, Thursday: Free Apple Day (one per person with full paid entry).
Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm
42W813 Reinking Road Hampshire, (847)464-5952, www.goebbertsgardencenter.com/
This 200-acre farm’s fall festival includes animal land, corn maze, wagon ride to the field, haunted house, munchkin maze, straw bale maze, Western town, pumpkin eating dinosaur, train ride, pumpkin slide, jumping pillow, chicken show, pig racing, goat mountain, pop shots, Charlotte’s Web, play area, and corn box. Additional fee for pony rides $6.00, camel rides $6.00, and paintball shooting
Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: Weekdays adults $12, weekends adults $15, children two and under free, seniors $6.
Royal Oak Farm Orchard
15908 Hebron Road, Harvard, (815) 648-4141, www.royaloakfarmorchard.com/index.htm
This year, the orchard planted a brand new u-pick pumpkin patch. Winter squash, gourds, corn stalks, broom corn are also for sale in the Harvest Barn. Activities include Petting Zoo, Royal Oak Express Train, Royal Oak Carousel, Concert Gazebo, Playground, Snack Shop and Orchard Tours.
Admission: Admission is free. Tokens are needed for rides and apple tree maze. Individual tokens are $3 per person. Token packages are available include 20 tokens for $50, or 40 tokens for $90.
Hours: Monday through Thursday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturdays until 7 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Bengston’s Pumpkin Farm
13341 W 151st St Homer Glen, (708) 301-3276, www.pumpkinfarm.com/
Admission includes seven kiddie rides including swing, two train rides, frog hopper, flying frog ride, twirling honey pot ride, and a mega slide.
Also featured are pig races, barn fun, petting zoo, prairie dog performances, haunted barn, pumpkin play land, corn boxes, adventure playground, Vortex tunnel with a Twist, windmill, hippity hop village, baby animal barn, simulated milking cows, Thrill-A-billy Goat pen, and the Bengtsonville children’s playhouse village are also included. Additional charge for pony rides $5, camel rides $7. Pumpkins are sold by the pound and not included with admission.
Hours: Open daily from through Oct. 30. Hours vary throughout the season but generally Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission: Varies from $9.99 to $16.99, children two and under free, and free with a military ID.
Konow’s Corn Maze
16849 S Cedar Rd, Homer Glen, 708) 301-8845, www.konowscornmaze.com
With two corn mazes, a corn pit, animal barn, straw playground, a jumping pillow, train ride, hayrides, duck races, and a grain train, Konow’s has something for everyone.
On Saturdays and Sundays, pony rides, bands and BBQ is available.
Hours: Sunday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Admission: Monday through Friday ages three and older $9.00 per person. Saturday and Sunday $10 per person. Ages two and younger free and free with a military ID.
Didier Farms’ Pumpkinfest
16678 Aptakisic Rd, Lincolnshire, (847) 634-3291, http://didierfarms.com/
New this year and offered only on the weekends excluding the weekend of Oct. 17 and 18 are two new adventures, a Mobile Room Escape and a Silly String Asylum. The Mobile Room Escape gives 15 minutes for participants to solve riddles, puzzles, clues, in order to free themselves from a 32 foot climate controlled trailer. In the Silly String Asylum players battle each other with cans of silly string.
Other activities include hayrides, corn mazes, pig races, camel rides, animal land zoo, pumpkin playland, and huge selection of unusual pumpkins and gourds in an array of sizes and colors.
Hours: 9:00 am to 6:00 p.m. daily.
Admission: fee. All activities and rides require tickets. Military personnel with ID are free.
19412 Shabbona Rd. Malta. (815) 825-2158. http://www.jonamacorchard.com/
In addition to a 12 acre u-pick pumpkin patch, a Barnyard Play Area which includes a jumping pillow and petting zoo, the Orchard also boasts a 10-acre corn maze that becomes haunted during weekend evenings in October.
Hours: Open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 30. Haunted Corn Maze open 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, Sept. 30 through Oct. 29 and from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16.
Admission: Barnyard play area weekend adult admission $4, children $6. Corn Maze $5. Combo admission to both corn maze and barnyard adults $8, children $10. Or family pass for parents and their children $32.
Kuiper’s Family Farm
1N318 Watson Road, Maple Park. (815) 827-5200. http://www.kuipersfamilyfarm.com/
Pre-picked or u pick pumpkins available. Attractions include corn maze, a tractor tire mountain, farm animals, duck races, playground, haunted forest, hayrides, pedal tractors, cornstalk cavern, Charlotte’s Web, hay bale maze, woodland walk, and giant checkers. Jumping pillow included in admission during the week. $2 extra charge on weekends/holidays. Pig races (weekends/holidays only) and train rides (weekends/holidays only) $ 2.00 per person extra charge.
Admission: $10.99 to $14.99, children two and under free, seniors and military with ID $ 6.99.
Hours: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 1.
Heap’s Giant Pumpkin Farm
4853 US Highway 52, Minooka, (815) 651-7288, www.heapsgiantpumpkinfarm.com/
Heap’s grows its own pumpkins, gourds, squash, Indian corn, and 25 different varieties of mums. It also has a 25-acre pumpkin patch that includes 90 different varieties of pumpkins. Activities include farm animals, a large wooden fort, barn fun, a bean maze, hay rides, and a giant corn maze.
Hours: Open daily through Oct. 31 from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Evening activities from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Admission: Free admission. Individual tickets are required for each activity. Or a barnyard pass can be purchased that gives unlimited access to all activities offered that day. Barnyard passes are $8 on weekends and $6 weekdays. Evening activities can be purchased for $17 per person.
2500 Johnson Rd Oswego, (630) 219-8194, www.kellersfarmstand.com/
Wristbands may be purchased which include the 12 acre corn maze. Other activities include hayrides, pedal tractors, kids straw maze, sandboxes of grain, farm animals and a large kid’s play area. U-pick pumpkins are available during the week and weekends.
Hours: Corn maze open weekends only from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. including Columbus Day through Oct. 30.
Admission: $9 wristband per person. Children 3 years and under are free.
Larson’s Family Farm
4404 Somonauk Rd, Sandwich, (815) 786-2249, http://www.larsonfamilyfarm.com/
Harvest festivities include a vintage playground, horses and goats, and a one mile hayride.
Admission: No admission charge.
Hours: Call first for hours. On weekdays in October, the farm tours hosts school and community groups. Tour groups enjoy hands-on learning experiences, an educational hayride, a Native American history lesson, and an age-appropriate film about modern farming.
39W369 IL Rt. 64 St. Charles, (630) 377-8118, www.nortonsproduce.com/index.php
A fall seasonal play area for children ages two to 10, Norton’s Hollow offers straw mazes, corn bundle tunnel, farm animals, a straw mountain and hayrides,
Hours: Open every day through Oct. 30.
Admission: Admission is $3 per adult and $3 per children age three and older. Admission for adults 60 and older is $1. Children 2 years old and younger are free.
Odyssey Fun Farm
18900 Oak Park Ave, Tinley Park, (708) 536-1793, www.odysseyfunfarm.com
New Attractions for Odyssey Fun Farm include a recreation of the Yellow Brick Road with characters and scenes from the Wizard of Oz and a new shooting gallery where you can test your aim at animated Zombie targets using paintball guns.
Built on 110-acre farm, the Odyssey Fun Farm Pumpkin Patch offers a five acre courtyard full of family friendly activities including a jumping pillow, petting zoo, corn cannons, pig races, a cow train, duck races, corn box, hay rides and pony rides, and a zip line. Pony rides available on Sat and Sun. Evening activities on Fridays and Saturdays include a Zombie Safari Hayride, and Pitch Black Flashlight Corn Maze.
Admission: Admission is $12 per person. Children two and under are free. Pony rides $5 and zip line $9 per person. Odyssey Fun Farm after Dark Attractions Zombie Safari Hayride $22, Pitch Black Flashlight Corn Maize $6. Use your own Flashlight or rent one.
Hours: Daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Oct. 30. Odyssey After Dark is open on Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. to midnight.
Goebbert´s Farm & Garden Center
40 W Higgins Rd, South Barrington, 847.428.6727, www.goebbertsgardencenter.com/index.html
A haunted house intended for school age children is among the assorted activities offered at Goebbert’s Farm South Barrington location. Other activities include 50 different animals, a Pumpkin eating dinosaur, pig racing, wagon rides, corn maze, playground, pumpkin tunnel, corn box, Charlotte’s Web, pumpkin hut, wooden fire truck and wooden Train, corn hole games, ring toss game and weekend magic shows.
Additional fee for pony rides $6, camel rides $6, jumping pillow $6, gem mining $9, haunted house $6, and duck derby $1.
Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Halloween 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission: Weekdays $11, weekends $14, children under three are free.
Sonny Acre Farm
29W310 North Ave, West Chicago. (630) 231-3859. http://www.sonnyacres.com/
Visitors to Sonny Acres will find a farm market, spook shed, costume shop, pony rides, a giant slide, a haunted barn, and a dizzy zone.
Hours: Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Not all rides & attractions are open during the week. Friday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Haunted wagon ride Fridays through Sunday.
Admission: Tickets are $1 each and cash only. Wristbands available Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. for unlimited rides for $10. Haunted Wagon Ride $10 per person.
All Seasons Apple Orchard
14510 IL Route 176 in Woodstock, (815) 338-5637, www.allseasonsorchard.com/apple-orchard
Over 30 acres, the All Seasons Apple Orchard has a variety of barnyard fall activities including a 10-acre corn maze with over three miles of pathways and a lookout bridge. Other activities include a petting zoo, bunny village, rat roller, giant swings, spider web, mini zip line, tire mountain, pumpkin checkers, pumpkin bowling, pedal karts, jumping pillow, goat bridge, tube slide, sand box, wagon ride, corn box, corn hole, giant rocker, duck races, country classroom, bee observation, cow train, magic shows, pig races, bouncy houses, pumpkin patch. Apple cannons, pumpkin cannons and pony rides are available for an additional fee
Admission: Weekday admission $10; Weekend $15. $9 for seniors. Children 2 and under are free. Individuals with a military ID are free. Pony rides are $5 and apple and pumpkin cannons are $5 for any person with a barnyard ticket.
Hours: Weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
— Your guide to pumpkin farms and Halloween attractions in northern Illinois —