By ALICEN HACKNEY
Fall is here, as much as it doesn’t feel like it yet with the sheer humidity. The opening of the pumpkin patches this weekend signifies the return of cozy outings, changing leaves and all the apple cider you can drink.
Luckily for UMW students, there are plenty of pumpkin patches right in our area to visit with friends and family. Between these you can find perfect pumpkins for carving, pig races, barn swings and hayrides.
Belvedere Plantation: Located in Fredericksburg and only an 18 minute drive from campus, the Belvedere Plantation has something for everyone during their Fall Harvest Festival. The plantation will be open this coming weekend, Sept. 21, and stay through Nov. 3, for festivities including pumpkin picking, their Virginia famous Maize Maze, barn rope swings and piglet races. While many of the plantations activities are suitable for young children, they can be enjoyed by all ages. And, if cute baby pigs just aren’t your thing, or you’d rather not get lost among the corn, Belvedere Plantation also hosts bonfires at night for groups. Per day tickets are $14.95 in September, and rise to $16.95 in October during the season’s peak. It’s proximity to campus makes Belvedere Plantation a really great spot for fall adventure.
Braehead Farms: Another popular fall Fredericksburg destination, Braehead Farms is only a 9 minute drive from campus making it the closest place for students to get their pumpkin picking on. Braehead offers both paid and unpaid entry. Guests are welcome to walk around the farm and take in the ultimate fall aesthetic. As far as harvesting, the farm is flexible. Guests that wish to pick their own pumpkins or farm-grown produce can simply pay for what they pick. However, if you’re looking to come to the Harvest Festival for hayrides, the corn maze, face painting and the sunflower walk, admission is $4. While Braehead is open almost year-round, they will be opening their Fall Harvest Festival starting Sept. 28, and will stay open through Oct. 27.
Sneads Farm: Also in Fredericksburg about 22 minutes from campus, Sneads Farm will be opening their Fall Festival on Sept. 28 through Oct. 31. The festivities available for guests go beyond just pumpkin picking. You can spend time with animals like chickens and llamas, explore the “Modest Museum” where all the Civil War memorabilia found on the farm is kept, a 10-acre sunflower field, and so much more. You can come enjoy all of what Sneads has to offer for weekday prices at $5 or weekends at $8.
Round Hill Farm: A little further out in Culpeper, Round Hill Farm will be open Oct. 5 through Oct. 31 for guests starting at $12.50 a day. Round Hill has everything you could want in a classic pumpkin patch experience including pumpkin picking, old-fashioned hayrides, a barnyard petting-zoo, corn maze, pony rides and so much more. Located among stretches of farmland, Round Hill offers guests a relaxed experience that everyone can enjoy.
Cox Farms: Farthest away, and possibly the most extravagant, is Cox Farms in Centreville open Sept. 21 through Nov. 5. Cox Farms is famous in Virginia for its huge themed slides, goat feeding area, unconventional “Cornundrum” maze and tricked out hayride. No detail is spared each fall when festivities begin, and there’s nothing particularly classic about the experience. During the hayride, you can high-five aliens and dance with ghouls. You can slide with the dinosaurs, and soar through the air on huge rope swings. During peak season tickets can reach $20, but keep an eye out for discount days where tickets can get as low as $7.
If this just isn’t enough to satisfy your pumpkin patch needs, some farther patches include Nall’s in Alexandria, the Westmoreland Berry Farm and Orchard in Colonial Beach, and Burnside Farms in Haymarket. These are a little more unconventional as far as pumpkin picking goes, but it’s still an available activity.