Next to Halloween decorations and pumpkin spice everything, my favorite part of autumn is attending all the amazing fall festivals. We try to visit as many as we can each year. So far this year, however, the weekends have been a little soggy, so we’re taking advantage of any sunny days to fit in a fall festival. And in case you’re doing the same, here are my three favorites in the Annapolis area.
Montpelier Farms, Upper Marlboro
The $12 admission (free for children younger than 2) includes a hayride, 7-acre corn maze, “Pallet” maze, two pedal kart tracks, cow moon-bounce, animals, covered corn box, whimsical hay-bales for climbing, storybook movie screening, two playground areas, “cow roping,” giant hill slides, football watching lounge, corn-stalk tepees and more.
For an additional cost, check out the giant pumpkin bounce pad, duck races, gem mining, pumpkin painting, face painting, scarecrow making, pumpkin chunkin’ giant sling-shot, food concessions, indoor market, bags of grain to feed the animals and a large pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
Hours: Fridays, 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sundays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
1720 Crain Hwy North
We really enjoy Montpelier Farms. I’ve taken the kids the past three years. There is a huge variety of things to do for all ages. It’s very hilly though, so bring an off-road stroller or carrier for young children. We went on a Sunday afternoon and despite some muddy areas and strong winds, we easily spent over 3 hours wandering the grounds.
We skipped the corn maze because the path looked very muddy, but enjoyed most of the other attractions. We had a tasty lunch of roasted corn on the cob, hotdogs, hamburgers and fries from the “Two Guys and a Grill” concession. Three other options are available for food and drinks but seating is not plentiful. A port-a-potty is always nearby, which is convenient when visiting with kids.
It can get a little pricey when paying for some of the additional activities. It’s kind of like a carnival where you need a certain number of tickets per activity, so we kept ours to just the animal feed, duck races and pumpkin bounce pad. At the end of our visit, the kids enjoyed picking their own pumpkins out in the big patch on the hill.
Greenstreet Gardens, Lothian
The $13 admission (2 and younger, free) includes jumping pillow, hayrides, 6-acre corn maze, “Shortie” maze, cow train, “spider web” net for climbing, hair and face painting, tire tower for climbing, tractor playground area, corn box, underground hill slide, straw castle, teepee, petting zoo and more.
For an additional cost there are food concessions, pumpkins and bags of animal feed.
Hours: Saturdays & Sundays in October, 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. with a special Friday opening Oct. 21, 1-4 p.m.
391 West Bay Front Road
The biggest draw for Greenstreet Gardens is that almost all the activities are included in the admission cost. When we visited with the boys for a school field trip, they enjoyed feeding the animals, riding on the not-too-scary hayride and venturing through the corn maze. To get to the festival area you have to take a hayride, because it’s a long way to walk. This was a little problematic when we decided to return to the parking area but had to wait for a hayride.
The kids, however, really enjoyed all the activities, which are conveniently grouped together. The smaller kids were having some trouble on the jumping pillow since it’s a little slippery in socked feet and slanted down, like an actual pillow.
A large picnic table area is available and a few port-a-potties around, but there is not a lot of shaded areas to get out of the sun. Themed weekends are held througout the season such as “Oyster Sundays” on Oct. 16 and “Princess Pumpkin Costume Parade” on Oct. 29. For the cost, it’s a fun festival!
Homestead Gardens, Davidsonville
Included in $17.50 admission is a 6-acre corn maze (parents can accompany child), “Pumpkin Express” and “Pollinator Express,” jumping pillow, pipe slide, moon bounce, Corn Cannon and one pony ride.
For additional cost check out the midway style games and face painting. Ticket books are available for $10 or $20. Winners of the games receive tokens redeemable for prizes at the “Sweets & Treats” tent. Admission for just a hayride and maze is $5.
Ages 2 and younger are free.
Hours: Saturdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sundays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., with a special Friday opening Oct. 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
743 West Central Ave
We’ve attended the Homestead Gardens Fall Festival a few times as it’s the closest to our home. I feel like this is the best festival for entertaining all ages. There are a variety of activities for kids, though having to purchase the tickets for the midway area can be pricey if you have multiple children. There’s also plenty of entertainment for adults, including live music. There are pumpkin carving demonstrations, reptile meet and greets, interactive puppet shows and more.
To enter the festival area, you have to walk through their main storefront, which is always full of unique and whimsical items. The kids get a kick out of all the Halloween decorations and fun photo op areas. Their “pumpkin patch” is always full of different sized pumpkins, but be ready to pay a high price for them. There’s a small market store outside where we always stop to bring home a box of cider, donuts and peach cider. There’s also a barbecue stand and coffee hut.
This festival tends to be very crowded, and can get a little unnerving with strollers and small children. We ended up passing by a lot of the activities because of long waits, which can be tough with young children. But if your kids are more independent, and you’re looking to enjoy an afternoon of good local music, this is the festival for you.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Luke.