Yes, it’s a 40-minute drive (with no traffic), and yes, it’s out in the countryside without any of the conveniences we city families have come to depend on, but mamas … YES, it is also worth it! Grab your Starbucks before you hit 101-N and you won’t be disappointed.
My family has always gone to Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch in the City for our pumpkins. It’s cute, convenient, and you come home with plenty of pumpkins. But this year we decided to visit the Nicasio Valley Pumpkin Patch and are so glad that we did!
We traded Karl the Fog for Mr. Golden Sun and although the car ride was a bit longer than my boys would have liked, the rewards of visiting a “real” pumpkin patch were many. Acres and acres of pumpkins, for starters: huge orange ones, squatty “Cinderella” ones, knobby gourds and itty bitty ones for the babies. The huge tractor pulling us on a hayride was a hit with my family, as was the little train ride around the patch. There were pony rides, a petting zoo, even pigs in a pigpen (I’m not sure who squealed louder, the pigs or my 18-month old when he saw them!). Live country music added to the ambiance, and a rock climbing wall, bouncy houses, and slides gave them plenty of opportunities to shake their wiggles out after sitting still in the car.
As someone who doesn’t eat red meat and is lactose intolerant, I was personally a bit disappointed with the food selection – a BBQ tent and an ice cream stand – but my three boys (ages 1, 4, and 40-something) were in high heaven. As an added bonus, the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company was hosting an “all you can sample” cheese table at the exit. We regularly sample (and buy) their cheeses at our local farmer’s market, but there’s just something about tasting cheese at the creamery where it’s made that made it extra special.
A couple things I wish I’d known before we went:
Go early. We arrived at 10:10 (they open at 10am and close at 6pm) and the small parking lot was nearly full when we arrived.
There are some large tents that would accommodate a group; we even saw a couple birthday parties. What a great idea!
If you don’t like a country style BBQ for lunch, pack your own. Food options are limited. If you have extra time, you could alternatively drive 11 miles north to Pt. Reyes and enjoy a nice rustic lunch there; Bovine Bakery is an old favorite from my cycling days.
Pack a few extra bottles of water. It’s much warmer than in the city, and there were no water stations/drinking fountains.
It is in the countryside. It is dusty and you will probably definitely get dirty. We used a half pack of wipes before getting back in the car and still felt like we all needed a shower when we got home. But no one ever said a visit to a farm was a tidy event! Next time, I’ll pack a couple of old towels and changes of clothes for the ride home.
The ticket situation for rides/slides was a bit confusing. There are three separate types of tickets: hayride tickets, train tickets, and bouncy house tickets, and they are all sold in different tents. If I was in charge, I’d consolidate ticket sales but, hey, these folks are pumpkin farmers, not event organizers.
If you have a foldable wagon, bring it. They do have wheelbarrows, but the wagon was great for towing kids, backpacks, sweatshirts, etc.
The Nicasio Valley Pumpkin Patch is open 7 days a week until the 31st. Happy Halloween!