Food

Your Guide to Kid-Friendly Fall Festivals Happening Around DC

Still on for autumn: pumpkin patches, hay rides, and cider doughnuts.

Fall Festivals, those godsend events for parents looking to wear out their kids in one swoop (and gorge on caramel apples and maybe some hard cider), are still happening at many local farms. But they’re obviously different this year. Expect lots of hand sanitizer and cashless systems. Don’t forget to book tickets well in advance—most are scheduling a reduced number of guests—and of course, stay six feet apart in that corn maze.

Butler’s Orchard

22222 Davis Mill Rd., Germantown; 301-428-0444

Offerings: Butler’s, which is only about 50 minutes from DC, is doing both weekday and weekend “pumpkin harvest” days. The 15 acre park offers a corn maze, pumpkin patch, farm animals, massive slides, and hayrides, among other things. If you’re in it for the bounce pad, that’s weekends only. Campfire sites are also open for reservations, and socially distanced birthday parties are allowed. 

When: Wednesdays through Sundays from September 26 through November 1.

Booking: Buy tickets in advance—$10 on weekdays; $15 on weekends for a two-hour time slot. Children under 24 months are free. 

Food: Cider doughnuts, caramel apples, and lunch fare is available for purchase. 

Masks: Required for children “elementary age” and up, and everyone else.

Gaver Farm

5501 Detrick Rd., Mount Airy; 301-865-3515

Offerings: “Fall Fun” days include a corn maze, a slew of kid-friendly games, farm animals, hay rides, and a pumpkin patch (certain attractions are weekend-only). Birthday parties are allowed. 

When: Daily through November 3. September 19 and 20, first responders and military members—and their immediate families—get in for free.

Booking: Buy tickets in advance—$9 on weekdays, $13 on weekends. Free for children under 2.

Food: Pumpkin and cider doughnuts, hot dogs, and other snacks are available to buy. 

Masks: Required when speaking to a staffer and in areas where social distancing isn’t possible. 

Great Country Farms

18780 Foggy Bottom Rd., Bluemont VA; 540-554-2073

Offerings: This Loudoun County farm—across the street from scenic Bluemont Vineyard—is putting on a month-long Pumpkin Harvest Festival with plenty of unique things to do. Besides pumpkin-picking, marshmallow-roasting, and a corn maze, there are cider pressing demonstrations (and sampling) and pumpkin cannons (some activities are weekend-only). Just after Halloween, there’s a pumpkin smashing festival, too.

When: Daily from September 28 through October 31. 

Booking: Advance weekday tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for children, and free for kids under 2. Weekend tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for children, and free for kids under 2. Each ticket gets a three-hour window. Keep an eye on their site for October reservations.  

Food: Pies, muffins, cider doughnuts, and gluten-free pizza are for sale. 

Masks: Required inside buildings. 

Montpelier Farms

1720 Crain Hwy., North, Upper Marlboro; 410-320-0464

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Offerings: On weekends, the pumpkin patch at this Prince George’s County farm stays open until 10 PM. Attractions like wagon rides, barnyard animals, a corn maze, a pedal kart track, and farm games are included in the ticket price. You can pay extra for scarecrow workshops, pumpkin painting, and pumpkin slingshots. 

When: Every Saturday and Sunday in September and November; every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in October. 

Booking: Advance tickets—$12 for adults and children, free for children 2 and under—are recommended.

Food: Outside food is allowed, and snacks like soft pretzels, apple cider slushies, cider doughnuts, and caramel apples are available to buy. 

Masks: Required for everyone over age 2. 

Reston Farm Garden Market

10800 Baron Cameron Ave., Reston; 703-759-0000

Offerings: The annual Fall Fest has a pumpkin-themed moon bounce, petting zoo, train rides, and farm animals, with add-ons like face painting and balloon animals. 

When: Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from September 25 through November 1. 

Booking: Advance tickets for 90 minute intervals are required. $20 per child and one adult ($5 for each additional parent/guardian). Siblings under 2 get in for free as long as there is at least one paid ticket.

Food: There’s a taco truck on weekends. 

Masks: Required for everyone over 10; encouraged for children aged 3 to 9; not required for children under 2. 

Sharp’s at Waterford Farm

4003 Jennings Chapel Rd., Brookeville MD; farmquestions@gmail.com

Offerings: If you’re looking for a school-day break, this Howard County farm’s weekday tours hit all the basics: animal-feeding, hayrides, and a pumpkin patch. 

When: Every Wednesday and Friday from October 7 through October 30, between 10 AM and 2 PM. 

Booking: Advance tickets—$8 for up to 90 minutes—are required.  

Food: Bring your own.

Masks: Required on the hayrides, in the barn, and in any are where social distancing isn’t possible. 

Summers Farm

5620 Butterfly Ln., Frederick; 301-620-9316

Offerings: A giant corn maze has an aerial view that reads “We Stand Together.” Elsewhere, there are farm animals, a reservable campfire area, and tons of kid games (rubber duck races; obstacle courses). Also: an 18 acre pumpkin patch. Friday and Saturday nights from October 2 to October 24, there are fireworks.

When: Daily from September 19 to November 8 (weekdays are afternoon-only). September 27 from 8 to 10 AM are set aside for customers on the autism spectrum and those with sensory sensitivities. September 16 and 17, the festival will only be open to teachers, first responders, service members, and essential workers, who will get in for free; immediate family is half-off.  

Booking: Advance tickets are required. Monday through early Friday, $10.50 per person (children under 2 are free). Late Friday to Sunday, $15.50 a person; seniors are $10.50. 

Food: Wood-fired pizza, doughnuts, and other snacks are available to buy. 

Masks: Required inside the animal barn and in areas where social distancing isn’t possible. 

Wayside Farm

5273 Harry Byrd Hwy., Berryville VA; 540-539-3276

Offerings: Pick-your-own pumpkins, games, a ten-acre corn maze (this year’s theme: American heroes), weekend pig races, and even a “goat walk,” in which you can gaze up at the animals walking high above your head. The farm is about an hour and a half from DC.

When: Every Friday through Monday between September 26 and November 1. 

Booking: Tickets will be available online.

Food: Kettle corn, cider doughnuts, burgers, and pizza are available to buy.   

Masks: TBD.

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We’d like to thank everybody who came out for The Fermented Pig barbeque last weekend. They will be back soon. Our Crave Catering entrees have generated great reviews (the meatballs make killer subs when using our rustic sub rolls:), but not everybody wants 4 serving-sized entrees. This week we will have 2 sizes of 3 different entrees. This will give you more price and amount of choices. Next Friday is the start of the CSA season. Caitlin and her crew are working hard growing the produce. Our newsletter will start listing each week’s box contents. Cheers, The Team . . . . . #cow #animals #farmanimals #farmtofork #CSA #Communitysupportedagriculture #meatballs #produce #localproduce #freshproduce #familyfarm #farktotable #supportlocalfarmers #MOO #gothay #pastureraised #milk #eggs #cheese #beef #chicken #meat

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Whitehall Farms

12523 Popes Head Rd., Clifton; 703-968-3900

Offerings: There’s no corn maze this year, but socially distanced wagon rides, pick-your-own pumpkins, an obstacle course, and lawn games will be up and running. 

When: Saturdays and Sundays from October 3 to October 31.

Booking: Advance tickets are $10 for adults and children over age 3. Active duty military and their families get $2 off per ticket. 

Food: Local charcuterie/kombucha maker the Fermented Pig is providing food for purchase, and there are socially distanced picnic tables. 

Masks: Advised. 

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.