Plentiful pumpkin patch options for Petaluma

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Although Petaluma grows more cosmopolitan by the day, we remain true to our rural roots and in October, that means pumpkin patches. Lots of them.

Unlike the fields of tangled pumpkin vines of my youth, today’s patches offer wagon rides, potato digging, pumpkin cannons and even a corn maze that can back up traffic on 101 South before the Penngrove exit. All have added a food element, with everything from carnival food (organic and regular) to gourmet eats.

Because weather plays a key role in operating hours, which can change with little notice, look to a patch’s website for up-to-date hours. Also, admission and parking is free to all patches, unless stated otherwise, while attractions usually cost a small fee.

Petaluma Pumpkin Patch and Amazing Corn Maze

Where: 550 Stony Point Road, between Hwy 101 and the KOA.

Obviously, the corn maze is the highlight, but they also offer other activities, from a zip line to pony rides to my favorite, a corn-kernel sandbox. They offer food vendors and special 4-H bake sales. Admission is free, with a small charge for various activities, like entry into the corn maze.

Website: www.petalumapumpkinpatch.com

Great Peter Pumpkin Patch at Spring Hill Jersey Farm

Where: 4235 Spring Hill Road

This patch sits in a working dairy and farm, and the concession stand shows it with plenty of fresh fruits and veggies as well as Spring Hill cheese and Petaluma Creamery ice cream. Spring Hill Jersey Farm is owned by the same Larry Peter that also owns and operates the Petaluma Creamery, Washoe House and Tomales Bakery. All activities are free, which is rare these days, and includes wagon rides, corn pits, hay maze and even cow milking lessons. They have plenty of parking and seating, as well as live music on the weekends. You can even dig for your own potatoes, which is one my favorite parts of this patch. The only charges are for pumpkins, potatoes and concessions. They have great deli snacks straight from Petaluma Creamery. And if cheese is your thing, Spring Hill makes one of the best aged cheddars outside New (and old) England, as well as excellent flavored jacks and an assortment of curds, which squeak upon eating, just like they are supposed to.

Website: springhillcheese.com

McClelland’s Dairy Pumpkin Patch

Where: 6475 Bodega Ave.

This family-owned operation specializes in a petting farm, cow milking parlor tour and a pumpkin-blaster cannon. The snack shack offers organic hot dogs and milkshakes, while the farm store sells farm-fresh items like butter, ice cream and eggs. As with all downhome events like this, the few extra take-home items you purchase go a long way to help keeping these diaries and farms open, thriving and enhancing our community.

Website: mcclellandsdairy.com

Green String Farm

Where: 3571 Old Adobe Road

This is a relatively new pumpkin patch, but this farm knows veggies. They have been growing and selling produce and meats at the corner of Adobe and Frates for years now. Along with winter squash and gourds, you’ll find a small patch of organic pumpkins offered at $1 per pound. Although the website does not appear to have any additional pumpkin info, you can at least find their hours listed.

Website: greenstringfarm.com

Pronzini Pumpkin Patch

Where: Hamilton Road (off Adobe)

This patch might sound familiar because these are the same folks who bring us Pronzini’s Christmas tree farm each winter. Located just past the intersection of Adobe and Frates, they are just a stones throw from Green String Farms and offer everything from bounce houses to barbecue, plus a shady area to enjoy while the kids play or pick their pumpkins.

Website: pronzinitrees.com

Nicasio Valley Pumpkin Patch

Where: 5300 Nicasio Valley Road, Nicasio

Located in Nicasio just north of the downtown square, this patch is basically part of Petaluma, as far as we Petalumans are concerned. It is well known for excellent weekend music and a hearty barbecue.

Website: nicasiovalleypumpkinpatch.net

Tolay Fall Festival

Where: 5869 Cannon Drive

It’s so much more than just a pumpkin patch and it’s only open for two weekends, Oct. 12-13 and 19-20. Located at Tolay Lake Regional Park, up the hill from Keller Estate Winery, this festival costs $5 for adults, $3 for kids 12 and younger, plus a $7 per-car parking fee. However, park pass holders get free parking plus free admission for up to two adults and two children. The festival includes hikes around the property, a “Creepy Crawly” room, hayrides to the pumpkin patch and a pumpkin seed spitting contest. Food is provided by local vendors, but picnics are welcome.

Website: parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/Play/Tolay-Fall-Festival/

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