Friday, September 30, 2016

Fall family fun on the farms of Northern Virginia

Autumn is a special time of year in Virginia. The weather can be quite unpredictable where it feels like a brisk November’s day or the temps can soar to summer-like conditions. All of which make for fantastic days out on the many farms to be found in Northern Virginia. 

Many of the farms in the region put together a nice festival spread. Most of the festivals opened within the last two weeks. Here is a run-down of some of the fun farms to take the kids this month:

Corn Maze in The Plains

This is one my family usually visits every year. Conveniently located off I-66 (about 20-30 minutes west of Fairfax County), Corn Maze in The Plains offers lots to do. The main event, of course, is the corn maze. Each year the farm comes out with a new theme for 5 acres of fun. The theme for 2016 was “Who Ya Gonna Call?” and it looks to have a ghostly appearance (the 2017 theme hasn't been announced yet). We always have so much fun here. Opening around the third weekend in September, there is lots to do. The festival includes a play area for the kids, pumpkin sling shots, mini mazes, hayrides, farm animals and more. There are day and night tickets available for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout October. The farm is also open for day tickets only on Columbus Day (Oct. 10). The fun typically runs until the week after Halloween (around Election Day). Also be sure to stop by the fab farmer’s market next door on your way out. 

Amazing Farm Fun @ Ticonderoga 

If racing down a giant slide on a burlap bag is your thing, Ticonderoga Farms in Chantilly offers this and much more. A great place to take the kids, Ticonderoga has several play areas, a large jump and bounce pillow, a really long and wobbly swinging bridge over a pond, go-carts, hayrides and a pumpkin patch, to name a few. There are also fire pits (to roast marshmallows and make s’mores – in the past they’ve offered kits for purchase, or you can bring your own). This farm is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You also get a free mini pumpkin with your admission purchase. The festival usually runs until early November.

Cox Farms

Out in western Fairfax County in Centreville, one of
the season’s biggest events take places at Cox Farms. Every year the farm throws a huge fall bash that has so many things, it’s hard to list them all. Fun for all ages during the day (open daily), the farm also hosts its famous “Fields of Fear” on the weekend nights (not for young kids – this is an age 12 and up kind of thing and the 12 and 13 year-olds must be accompanied by an adult). This year "Foamhenge" debuts in its new home from Natural Bridge (If you're wondering what this is all about, see this post as I visited "Foamhenge" just before the big move). 

The festival runs until just after Halloween. There is also an extra weekend of fun in the first weekend of November as the farm wraps things up for the season. 

Burnside Farms

Burnside, located in Haymarket off of I-66,  is one of my favorite “go to” places in the spring and summer with its fabulous tulip and sunflower festivals. This year I realized they also offer a fall event too. There are fresh farm market items, such as cider, apples, pumpkins and gourds available. As customary with the rest of the year, there is usually a pick-your-own flower option in one of their production fields. The barnyard is usually opened for a meet and greet with the furry and feathered friends. Open daily through October, this one is probably better suited for the little ones. The farm advertises itself as not having the “bells and whistles” of some of the others, but there are a few fun things for the kids. Burnside is open daily, Sunday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cows ‘n Corn

A corn maze, pumpkin picking, narrated Hayride tour, annual barn dance and dinner, and lots of other family fun farm fall activities take place at Corn-n-Cows dairy farm in Midland, Va. Ever make your own butter? If not, you’ll learn it here. The staff gives a great tour of the farm and lots of information. There are many things to see and do on the farm, and while many of the events are designed for younger kids, the older ones have fun too, especially with the go-carts. I haven't been down this way since 2009, but we had a good time. The farm is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The evening hours have limited activities as I’m guessing the focus is on the evening corn maze event. 

Great Country Farms

Located in western Loudoun County in Bluemont, this is a nice day outing. This one is located a good 90 minutes from Washington, but it’s got a lot to offer. There are plenty of activities for the kids, a pumpkin patch (yes, you actually pick your own here!) and pick your own apples. This is another one I haven’t been to in several years, but talking to friends and neighbors, they’ve had a great time. I see on their website they also have a corn maze too. One thing I remember the kids getting a big giggle out of is the P-Rex pumpkin munching dino. The fun runs until around Halloween with an additional weekend in early November for pumpkin chunkin’.

There are lots more farms in the D.C. metro region (take a look at Maryland - still working my way up there), but these are the ones I’ve been to. 

Happy fall!

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