Since the 1950s, visiting a pumpkin patch and finding the perfect gourd to carve has been a staple in fall family traditions. Generations of families have owned and operated pumpkin patches throughout the country, cultivating a sense of humility and wholesomeness in the activities people of all ages can engage in.
For me, a visit to the pumpkin patch has rung in the fall season for nearly two decades of my life, and I have countless fond memories of each of these patches with friends and family. If you’re looking for classic fall fun this Hallo-weekend, here are three must-visit pumpkin patches in the Chicagoland area.
Kuipers Family Farm in Maple Park
Kuipers Farm is a pumpkin patch and apple orchard located in Maple Park, IL. Kim and Wade Kuipers opened the farm as a 71-acre apple orchard in 1998 and grew their land to 230 acres over the next 20 years. The farm now includes a pumpkin patch and numerous fall attractions and activities.
Highlights: The large store at the front of the farm includes hundreds of farm-grown products for any season, like spices, pasta, and cider. They also have an in-house bakery where they make their famous apple cider donuts. The store also leads directly out to a large silo where wine and hard cider tastings are available for guests over 21. Occasionally, there will be a Kuipers employee making homemade hot applesauce with the apple breed of the day. When we went, it was Fuji apple applesauce. The experience of picking apples and pumpkins was very fun and efficient, and the Kuipers employees took pride in instructing guests on how to get the best peck. Those who are not interested in harvesting apples or pumpkins can enjoy live entertainment, a haunted forest, and even hourly pig races.
Drawbacks: Kuipers is slightly more adult-focused than others, with the inclusion of the wine tasting and the large store. Crowds were also fairly concentrated, which made for long wait times for apple picking. The price of admission is the highest of the three pumpkin patches reviewed, being $20 on weekdays and $23 on weekends in October.
Goebbert’s farm in Pingree Grove
Goebbert’s started as a vegetable stand opened by George Goebbert in Arlington Heights in 1948. George’s son Jim opened their South Barrington location in 1972 and the Pingree Grove location in 1985. The Pingree Grove location is run by the husband-and-wife team Lloyd and Terry and is open from September 7-October 31.
Highlights: The farm is very large, and has countless activities that could take up an entire day’s visit. While there were still long lines at popular locations like the haunted house, compared to other pumpkin patches, the layout allowed for a less dense crowd. It also was fun for all ages. Young kids could enjoy playground activities, teens could walk through the silly but exciting haunted house, and adults could enjoy the Beer Barn. Picking pumpkins was easy and efficient, as there were large piles of pumpkins rather than an actual patch.
Drawbacks: It is a bit pricey to get into the farm, admission being $18 on weekdays and $22 on weekends. But, I think that it is worth the price as you are able to do so much that is included with the price of admission. Some attractions do seem a bit outdated, but if you don’t mind a bit of rust and a vintage style, Goebbert’s is the place to go.
Keller’s Farmstand in Oswego
The Oswego farmstand is the most recent addition to the Keller family’s three farmstand locations in Chicagoland, opening in 2007. It is home to Keller’s most popular fall activities, like their pumpkin patch, corn maze, wagon rides, and farm animals. Their fall season begins in mid-July and ends on October 31.
Highlights: Keller’s is quite small compared to Kuipers and Goebbert’s, which allows for all activities the farm has to offer to be explored and enjoyed thoroughly. The unique corn maze, which changes its design every year, is definitely the stand-out of the location. The U-Pick pumpkin patch spans 20 acres, just enough space for guests to find their perfect pumpkin. The apple cider donuts which are made in-house and local-made honey are fan-favorite products sold at the farm. Admission into U-Pick is free, but guests will need to pay a small fee to get a wristband to participate in activities like the playground and corn maze.
Drawbacks: Just as the size is a pro, it could also be a con. If guests are looking to spend an entire day at Keller’s, they will be disappointed to find that trips to the farm usually last an hour or less. Keller’s is also the least activity-focused, with only a few “non-picking” attractions available. However, this does not mean that the farm is completely depleted of things to do. It just means there is less to do than the other two pumpkin farms mentioned.
Kelsey Gara is a staff editor for Oswego East’s online news magazine The Howl