Temperatures are slowly starting to drop, leaves are beginning to change in Northern Arizona, and everywhere you look are pumpkin patches, fall festivals, haunted houses, costumes, and spooky decorations. Autumn is officially arriving in Arizona and one of our favorite ways to celebrate and enjoy the season is to visit one of our many local pumpkin patches. We’re sharing our inside knowledge and some of our best tips for visiting pumpkin patches here in the Sonoran Desert.
Tip 1: Remember You Are in the Desert
Many people who currently live in the Valley of the Sun are transplants from other parts of the country, so our most important tip for anyone planning to make the trek to a local pumpkin patch is this: remember that you’re still the desert and that it’s still hot outside! Nope, you’re not in Kansas anymore – or Minnesota, or Wisconsin, or California, or Illinois, or Pennsylvania. Remember that even though fall is in the air and you’re in full pumpkin mode, Phoenix is still a desert. And it’s still hot. It will be almost definitely be hot every afternoon until the week after Halloween, so plan accordingly.
Tip 2: Research the Venue
Take time to find the pumpkin patch that will work best for your family. Consider how long you are willing to sit in the car, what activities your kids will enjoy, and how much different pumpkin patches cost. All of them are fun, but there are ranges of activities and price points. If you are all about taking a day trip, plan on heading to a different part of the Valley or outside of Maricopa County. There are some great pumpkin patches in the Tucson and Prescott areas, for example. If you are looking for just a few hours of fun, try something in town a little closer to home.
Generally, pumpkin patches have a somewhat common range of activities for most ages, but some specialize in adult fun too. Watch for extras like haunted houses, music venues, or even beer gardens. In this day and age, most pumpkin patches have a good website or at least a Facebook page. Check out their information before you go to find distance and directions, hours, and prices, as well as to check out what kinds of activities are available on site. A little planning ahead will make your trip much more enjoyable.
Tip 3: Go Early
Once October rolls around, temperatures are often quite a bit cooler in the morning, which makes it a great time to get outside and enjoy autumn weather. Typically, the crowds at a pumpkin patch are smaller right when they open, so the lines and wait times are shorter. It’s also easier to manuever small kids around before lunchtime, when they get hungry. I recommend arriving as early as possible to make the trip more enjoyable for the whole family.
Tip 4: Take Water
It’s the desert and you are outside in the sunshine. Even in cooler temperatures, you need to be sure to drink tons of water. Don’t make the mistake of leaving your beverages at home or trying to rely on food and drink stands at the pumpkin patch. Sometimes the costs are high, and sometimes they just don’t sell what you need. Be sure bring enough water for everyone in your group, to reduce the risk of running out while you’re there. It’s always best to be prepared for the trip ahead of time, especially in the desert.
Tip 5: Dress Appropriately
Whether the venue is a farm or a working ranch, the pumpkin patch will be sitting in an outdoor desert area that is not flip-flop friendly (think dirt, rocks, scrub grass, and cactus). Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, socks, a hat, sunscreen, and comfortable lightweight clothing. I recommend the type of clothes you would wear hiking as the environment is the same, but cowboy gear is great too. Nothing beats a good pair of cowboy boots at the ranch.
Tip 6: Bring Cash
In our experience, there is a really high likelihood of needing cash. Most pumpkin patches are small family farms or ranches, so credit card readers are not always readily available. That has changed gradually over the years, but it’s still best to bring some cash for your pumpkins and snacks, just to be on the safe side. Also, remember that most pumpkin patches are located on the outskirts of town and away from stores and strip malls, so an ATM machine may be a little tough to find.
Visiting a pumpkin patch once fall arrives is a special treat, full of great memories and well worth the trip. There are some great pumpkin patches in all corners of the Sonoran Desert, and most of them bring a special Arizona flare to the mix that you just won’t find in other parts of the United States. With a little planning, you can make the most of your visit to a Sonoran Desert pumpkin patch this year. Be sure to check out ladybugsblog.com for our 2019 Arizona Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival list for ideas!