Every year after the end of the back-to-school hubbub, and before the
engulfing obligations of the holiday season, we get a bit of a
breather. The month of October offers lots of low-stress, purely fun
activities for families -- no houses to clean, no turkeys to brine or
presents to buy; all you have to do is get in the car with a couple of
bucks and a sense of adventure, and drive to a farm.
Visit almost any area farm this month for an amalgam of harvest and
Halloween activities, from farm animal petting zoos and rides for tots
to pumpkin U-pick and imaginatively designed corn mazes. If you have
older kids who demand more stringently scary Halloween fun, you'll find
some unusual "haunted" experiences out there in addition to the big
haunted houses that pop up all over town this month.
Corn mazes are a great way to get kids of grade school age and up
outside, while teaching them about map reading, navigation and
clue-decoding. The corn is cut into a detailed picture, complete with
clues at various places that point the way out. And -- not incidentally
for a Halloween amusement -- wandering a maze is also an exercise in
the thrill of getting safely lost.
If it's a warm day, bring hats and water. Once you're in the maze you
may not be able to find your way out quickly if the kids get thirsty,
and there's not much shade since you're in... a field. Wear sturdy
shoes or boots. If the weather's dry, the ground will be hard and
sometimes uneven; if it's been rainy, you might encounter mud. And if
you're going with very young kids, it's also a good idea to call ahead:
Can you bring a stroller in? Are there any shortcuts out of the maze in
case of a bathroom emergency?
Snohomish is a good place to start if you want to visit a number of
close-together farms. Within a short distance of each other you'll find
Bob's Corn (farm-themed corn maze that's also open by appointment only
for a glowstick-lighted, night visit pumpkin patch); the tot-friendly
Craven Farm (Alice in Pumpkinland corn maze, pumpkin patch, baby farm
animals, children's story time tours); The Farm (Washington State Corn
Maze, pumpkin u-pick, petting farm, barn hay maze); and Stocker Farms
(Wild West corn maze, pumpkin patch).
Look for an "Earth-to-Mars" corn maze, pumpkin patch and
Halloween-themed carnival rides at Everett's Biringer Farm. In
Carnation, Remlinger Farms also offers carnival-type amusements for
small children in its Country Fair, in addition to a pumpkin patch and
corn field, and Jubileefarm is open on weekends for pumpkin picking,
pumpkin catapulting and pony rides. Carpinto Brothers in Kent has a
Dracula/haunted house-themed corn maze this year, and in Redmond, South
47 Farm's "Our Farming Heritage" corn maze features questions and
answers about the role of farm in our region. The farm also offers free
wagon rides on the weekend and farm animals for viewing.
A couple of organizations around the area play host to scary outdoor
fun for older kids. Bastyr University's "Haunted Trails Halloween"
takes visitors down the dark trails at St. Edwards State Park. In
Everett, the Everett Jaycees Haunted Forest is another outdoor
scare-o-rama. Stocker Farms in Snohomish also offers the "Field of
Screams," a section of its corn maze that is haunted on weekend
evenings by a troupe of local actors. If you're looking for something
more traditional or more frightening, check out The Cold Spot at theflagship.net/coldspot/index.html, then click on "Haunted Attractions" for a list of Seattle-area haunted houses.
Kris Collingridge is Parentmap's calendar editor and mother of two.
Originally published in the September, 2004 print edition of ParentMap.