The big box stores have been selling plastic pumpkins for a couple of weeks now, but you just can’t rush mother nature! Thankfully, your wait is over–most St. Louis area pumpkin farms are be ready to sell fresh pick your own pumpkins! Whoo-hoo!
Most of the local pumpkin farms we’ve been to have a mix of pick-your-own pumpkins, pre-priced pumpkins (by size or weight) and a general carnival atmosphere on the weekends. There’s food, fall-themed playgrounds, tractor rides and pony rides–for an extra fee.
What I’ve found over the years is that weekends are crazy festivals of pumpkin picking madness, while weekdays (in October) are more relaxed days for the stay-at-home mom with her pre-schooler set. If you’re available during the day and want a nice picture of your kid communing with the pumpkins, go on a weekday. If you want pony rides, kettle corn and maybe some live music you’ll want to wait for the weekend.
Oh, and here’s a tip I learned from a local farmer: you can’t really “pick your own” pumpkin. First, the vines would be too hard for the average kid to deal with, so the farm hands go out and cut the pumpkins loose. Then as the fields are picked over, they restock the pumpkins when no one is looking. Maybe all the farms don’t do it that way, but think about it. Hmmmmm.
The kids and I have been all over St. Louis looking for pumpkins, so here’s our favorites:
(Please check the websites for the most current info on admission fees and hours!)
Stuckmeyer’s Farm in Fenton: OK, this one also happens to be the closest pumpkin farm, but it’s worth a drive if you don’t live in my neck of the woods. There’s no admission to Stuckmeyer’s “Fort Spooky” which is awesome and NOT SCARY for little kids. You do need tickets for things like tractor rides (7 days a week) or pony rides (weekends only). Fort Spooky is mostly for smaller kids, with some tame tunnels to explore and a nice big Rainbow playset to climb all over.
Eckert’s in Belleville (and Grafton & Millstadt): Eckert’s is the king of pick-your-own fruit, so it’s no wonder they do a great job during Halloween season. They have more weekend fun than you can shake a stick at, and some pretty good pumpkins too. They do Haunted Hayrides at the Millstadt farm after dark. Pricing is going to vary–the Millstadt farm charges a flat admission to the kid’s area (pony’s extra) while the Belleville farm charges per ride. Browsing the pumpkins is free, just pay for the one’s you take home.
Thies Farm Pumpkin Land in Maryland Heights and St. Louis: It’s been a while since we’ve been to this one, but it was pretty darn cool for older kids. I went when Mitch was a toddler and the hay maze was too dark and most of the swings were too big for him back then. This place is perfect for elementary schools kids. They have a play area mostly made of haybales–it’s amazing what you can do with hay. The Maryland Height’s farm is way bigger–it’s newer so they have room to stretch out. They charge admission to the kid area and have pony rides on the weekends.
Brookdale Farms in Eureka: This is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of pumpkin patches. During the day it’s nice little place to take the kids with a cool corn maze (the largest in the area) and cute farm animals to visit. The Mr. Hyde part? After dark they switch gears and become “Red’s Corn Maze Massacre” complete with actors chasing you through the maze with bloody hatchets or whatever haunted houses do. I wouldn’t know, I don’t do haunted houses. Ewwww!
If you want to bring little kids, don’t worry. During the day there’s no evidence they haunt it up. There’s an admission fee, check their website for details.
Rombach’s Farm in Chesterfield: Rombach’s doesn’t charge admission, but there is an extra charge if you want to do a weekend pony ride. They have a really fun fort to play in (free) and some (slightly) scary haunted scenes you can stroll by to get in a Halloween mood. Pumpkins here are priced by size and set out in zones, which means you don’t have to limit your pumpkin purchases by weight. Just point the kids at the pile in your budget range. Romach’s has closed at least for the 2017 season…we’re sad to see them go!
Chesterfield Valley Pumpkin Patch: This is the newest and maybe most expensive patch in town. It’s operated by a vendor who helped Rombach’s put on their festival for 20 year, but lacks the ambiance of a family farm. The patch is tucked into an empty lot next to the St. Louis Premium Outlet Mall on Olive Road. Admission is free, but any activities require the purchase of an $18 wrist ban. It’s open 7 days a week, but only go on Saturday or Sunday when the activities (like 12 different inflatables) are open.
I’ve heard that Pumpkin’s Galore in Wright City is fun, so I’ll be looking to add them to the list soon. Here’s the list I wrote for St. Louis Magazine in 2016.