Did you know pumpkins are one of the most popular crops in the United States? The country produced a whopping 1.5 billion pounds of these beloved gourds in 2017, and about half of them were grown in only six states. Illinois often leads the pack with around 25,000 acres of pumpkins scattered throughout the state.
With thousands of pumpkin patches around the country, there are plenty of destinations to consider when pumpkin picking season arrives. But how do you know which are worth the trip?
To celebrate Illinois’ pumpkin plethora, we’ve put together a list of seven of the best Midwest pumpkin patches to visit this fall so you and your family can make the most of the season.
See more: 6 Apple Orchards to Visit This Fall
The Great Pumpkin Patch
With more than 300 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds from dozens of countries around the world, there’s no doubt that The Great Pumpkin Patch lives up to its name. This beautiful agritourism destination, which began as a homestead in 1859, gives you and your family the opportunity to spend a crisp fall day winding through decorative mazes, strolling the gardens, purchasing an assortment of brightly-colored mums and filling your wagon with enough autumnal goodness to last all season long.
Uncle Bill’s Farm
Named one of the top 16 pumpkin farms in America by Travel + Leisure Magazine, Uncle Bill’s Farm in Grinnell, Iowa, is well worth a trip for locals and tourists alike. The admission price gets you access to all the attractions, including the 10-acre pumpkin patch, Uncle Bill’s Express Train, the corn pool, an indoor glass beehive, musical entertainment and a giant corn maze. You can even stop by the gift shop and restaurant for an afternoon pick-me-up of caramel apples, freshly-popped kettle corn, cookies or donuts.
Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm
Homer Glen, Illinois
Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm is a family-owned and operated business that has served the community of Homer Glen for going on 40 years. With sprawling pumpkin patches, rides and mouth-watering carnival food, this is the perfect destination for friends, couples or families. Get spooked in the haunted barn, peruse the petting zoo, stop by the pony rides or cheer on your top pick in the pig races. No matter how you want to celebrate the arrival of autumn, you will never run out of options here.
If you want to feast your eyes on some of the most beautiful and exotic pumpkins around, look no further than Leeds Farm. In addition to finding the classic carving pumpkin, you can explore everything from blue and fairytale pumpkins to mini pumpkins, pie pumpkins, white pumpkins and the Galeux d’Eysines, a remarkable French heirloom variety. There are also plenty of family-friendly activities to keep the kids engaged, from hayrides and farm animals to miniature zipline rides and mountain slides.
Louisburg Cider Mill Family Farm
An incredible 10-acre maze and pumpkin patch are just the start of the fall fun at Louisburg Cider Mill. Opened in 1977, this farm has everything you could want in a classic autumn pumpkin patch with the added bonus of their renowned Ciderfest Festivities. This free event takes place over the course of two weeks each fall and includes activities like pony rides, an inflatable slide, and cider and donut making. There are also craft booths and opportunities to indulge in pancake breakfasts and sample freshly-dipped caramel apples.
Vala’s Pumpkin Patch
Even though Vala’s Pumpkin Patch began as a small business with a simple vision for creating family-friendly fun, it has since grown to be a community favorite. Each season ushers in thousands of guests who are eager to explore the 400-acre operation, which includes upwards of 55 acres of pumpkins planted every single year. Visitors can enjoy delicious caramel apples, fun-filled hayrack rides and the famous Pigtucky Derby pig races. And with pumpkins going for only $0.49 per pound, you can fill your wagon (or car trunk) with as many beautiful gourds as your heart desires.
Founded in 1837 by George Wiard, this gorgeous operation began as an orchard, cider mill, vinegar mill and vineyard before expanding to include a pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Today visitors can enjoy u-pick apples, u-pick pumpkins and delicious cider fresh from the mill. You can also spend an autumn afternoon roaming the corn maze, taking a hayride, shooting the apple cannon, or playing on giant inflatables. The farm even offers miniature golf, a haunted barn and a petting farm. If you add Wiard’s to your fall bucket list, make sure to go by the Country Store and Bakery to stock up on some Michigan cider, donuts, pies, jams, jellies, honey and apple salsas.
See more: 17 Irresistible Apple Recipes for Fall