For some, the crisp autumn air and turning of the leaves can’t come fast enough, while others turn a bit gloomy as the long, hot days of summer fade. But whether you’re cheering on fall or staving off the back-to-school blues, everyone can agree that weekend apple picking and hayrides at Maryland family farms is the perfect way to celebrate the season.
Weber’s Cider Mill Farm gets apple season off to the right start with a birthday bash for American legend Johnny Appleseed (the larger-than-life pseudonym of the pioneer John Chapman). A general admission ticket will get you access to the barnyard and activities like the straw maze, hillside slide, duck races and a hayride. The working farm has a bakery that makes pies and cider donuts, sells fresh fruits and vegetables and is known for its cider—pressed from fresh-picked apples at Runkle’s Company Cider Mill, the oldest cider mill in continuous use in Maryland.
2526 Proctor Lane, Parkville, September 17 & 18, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. tickets required, www.weberscidermillfarm.com/
At Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch there’s 30 acres of pumpkins ripe for picking, a 15-acre corn maze, hayrides, face painting, pony rides and a petting zoo. The Patch is located on a scenic working farm in Middletown Valley, and is also home to the Craft Attic, which features handmade items from over 45 local artisans.
6521 Holter Road, Middletown, opens September 24, see website for schedule of events & prices (admission & hayrides are free), www.jumbos.org
A spot for the hayride connoisseur, Larriland Farm offers four types of hayrides in the fall, as well as October exclusives—a labyrinthine straw maze and a (not too scary!) Boo Barn for young kids. In 2013, the farm expanded to include Moore Farm up the road, which will grow pumpkins for fall weekend pickings.
2415 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, closed Mondays, reservations required for some activities, www.pickyourown.com
The family farm Butler’s Orchard is in its 66th year and has grown from a log house and 25 acres of peaches to encompass 300 acres—hosting country outings and a farmer’s market. At Butler’s Orchard, you can take a hayride out to pick seasonal crops, go out for an evening hayride and bonfire or celebrate fall with weekend pumpkin harvests in October. They also hail the end of the autumn season with their Last Call for Fall festival in early November, replete with traditional fall entertainment and all the free pumpkins you can carry.
22200 Davis Mill Road, Germantown, see website for schedule of events & price www.butlersorchard.com
Want a change of pace from apple picking and hayrides? You can take in a wider view of the world’s fall colors at the Bowie International Festival, which promises to go “Around the World in Just One Day.” Bowiefest is held yearly at the 85-acre Allen Pond Park, and boasts a global breadth of music, dance, crafts, food and children’s activities. Kids can pick up a festival passport and collect stamps as they travel from activity to activity, receiving an “international” prize at the end of their globetrotting cultural adventures.
3330 Northview Dr., Bowie, October 1, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., free, www.cityofbowie.org
Wind your way to Westminster for the ultimate Fall fun experience at Baugher’s. Pick a selection of seasonal fruit (be sure to check the ripening calendar for the best bet!), then stop by the petting zoo to get friendly with fuzzy farm animals like lambs, goats, rabbits and more. End your day with the Orchard’s signature apple cider and country-style cooking at the Baugher’s Restaurant. (Bonus: Every weekend in October, the Orchard hosts a Fall Harvest Festival with hayrides, pumpkin picking, pony rides and more!)
1015 Baugher Road, Westminster, 410-848-5541, see website for schedule, baughers.com
Explore new realms at Ellicott City’s Enchanted Forest at Clark’s Elioak Farm! The magical park features life-size versions of all of your fairytale favorites, from Goldilocks and Mother Goose to the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. Stop by the Castle Store to check out the history of the Enchanted Forest, then swing over to the Petting Farm to meet cute cows Milk Dud and Moon Pie and the rest of their furry (and feathered!) friends. Other offerings include gem mining, educational tours and more.
10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, 410-730-4049, Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., clarklandfarm.com