Inside: Your passport to fall family fun in the Maryland area. It includes the best fall festivals in Maryland plus apples, fall foliage, pumpkins, and Halloween!
Did you see it? The leaves are starting to change. Apples are in season. The grocery store has brought back pumpkin spice.
Bring it on!
With the start of school and (hopefully) cooler weather, there are so many fantastic fall festivals and activities in the Baltimore-DC Area. Lucky for you, I have done a fair bit of research for you. Hopefully, this guide will act as your comprehensive resource for fall family fun in the greater Baltimore-DC area. I have focused this guide on families with young children (no haunted houses.. sorry). So, happy harvest! I hope you pick out the best pumpkin ever, drink the best apple cider slushie, and see the most vibrant fall colors.
Updated for 2018!
The Complete Guide to Fall Family Fun in the Baltimore-DC Area
New for this year!!! Sunflowers and GLOW events!
As if Fall couldn’t get any more fun, there are two types of events I wanted to highlight this year. Due to the strange weather the DC-MD-VA area has had in 2018, numerous late summer sunflower farms are actually going to be in full bloom in… OCTOBER! Here are the two you really need to watch for:
- Clear Meadows Farm: These sunflower fields have historically been some of the biggest in Maryland. They are now expected to be at peak bloom the 1st and 2nd week of October. You can read more about this awesome place here.
- Burnside Farms: Located in Haymarket, VA, this farm typically has amazing sunflowers in the middle to late summer. However, their Summer of Sunflowers was cut short by the rainy weather and now they are combining a late summer sunflower planting with their fall festivities! I believe this includes a sunflower maze! Wow! You can read more about how awesome Burnside Farms is here.
- Garden Glow at Ladew Topiary Gardens: http://www.ladewgardens.com/EDUCATION/Family-Education/GardenglowThis is the first year Ladew Topiary Gardens has put on a GLOW event and I couldn’t be more excited. It will feature illuminated sculptures, hundreds of glowing jack o’ lanterns, live music, and local vendors of food and spirits. Enjoy special educational exhibits of owls, bats, moths, spiders and other creatures of the night. October 20th, 5-9PM.
- The GLOW Jack-O-Lantern Experience: https://theglowjackolantern.com/washington-dc/We didn’t visit this attraction last year and I kicked myself. It looks sooo cool! It is being held at Lake Fairfax Park from October 4th-28th.
- Baugher’s Orchards and Farms: Take a nice drive to Westminster, MD and pick some of the juiciest apples in the area. Baugher’s specializes in honey crisp apples but grows pretty much all varieties. Stop by their market for delicious apple cider donuts still warm and wash down their yummy goodness with an apple cider slushie. They also have a great little petting zoo farm.
- Larriland Farm: Nestled out in Western Howard County, Woodbine, this fantastic pick your own farm will have apples ripe for picking in late September.
- Butlers Orchard: This fantastic farm and orchard is located in Germantown, MD.
- Milburn Orchards: Located in Elkton, MD, this orchard offers an ‘apple adventure’ pick your own experience.
- Rock Hill Orchard: Located in Mount Airy, MD, this pick your own orchard also boasts an on-site creamery (ice cream… yummy!)
- Homestead Farms: This pick your own farm in Poolesville, MD is operated by a family who has been farming in Maryland since 1763!
- Weber’s Cider Mill Farm: Don’t let the fact that the pick your own farm is called, PeachBerry Farm. Weber’s Cider Mill Farm in Parkville, MD offers apple picking beginning in late September. Make sure you pick up some fresh apple cider and apple cider donuts as well!
Best Spots to View Fall Foliage
Skyline Drive and the Shenandoah National Park are the area’s fall foliage favorites. However, the are many fantastic places to take in the leaves. Here are just a few:
- Autumn Glory Festival: Even though this is technically a festival, not a leef peeping spot per se, no Maryland Fall Family Fun Guide would be complete with giving this annual festival a mention. This year’s festival runs from 10 to 14 October in Garrett County. Festival activities include craft shows, parades, live music, and of course.. fantastic views of the fall foliage. https://www.visitdeepcreek.com/51st-annual-autumn-glory-festival
- The C&O Canal National Historic Park: 184.5 miles of scenic trails that are great for biking and hiking. The fall colors next to the water are gorgeous. http://www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm
- U.S. National Arboretum: Peak bloom is in mid-to-late October, with many varieties of maple trees showing off their bright red splendor.
- Patapsco Valley State Park: Any of the regions of this park would be great for fall foliage viewing. However, areas that are more accessible for families with small kids include the Hollofield Area off of Baltimore National Pike (Route 40) and the Avalon Area in Elkridge. Read my review about exploring this great park with young kids!
- Great Falls Park: Both the Virginia and Maryland sides of the park offer great fall leaf viewing and easy hikes for kids.
- Sugarloaf Mountain: Located in Dickerson, MD has a fantastic vantage point for leaf peeping. You can drive to the overlook, so it is great for kids.
- Elk Neck State Park in Cecil County. The leaves turn in late October/early November in this Chesapeake area park. Take the 1 mile hike to Turkey Point Lighthouse for spectacular views.
- Cunningham Falls State Park in the Catoctin Mountains is gorgeous anytime of the year. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see the falls with the backdrop of the fall leaves?
- Oregon Ridge Park and Nature Center: Not only will the leaves be gorgeous, but during the first weekend in October, the Nature Center will host a Honey Harvest Festival, complete with crafts, puppet shows, hayrides, and a campfire with smores! http://www.oregonridgenaturecenter.org/honeyhrvst.html
- Gunpowder Falls State Park in Kingsville, MD. Lots of Aspen trees make the fall leaf season quite spectacular.
- Swallow Falls State Park in Oakland, MD. Check out the hike to Muddy Creek Falls, a 53′ waterfall.
Fall Festivals/Pumpkin Festivals
Note: Many of the farms that have pick your own apple orchards, also offer pumpkin patches. Unless the farm offers a significant festival I did not list it in this section. However, if you want a more ‘authentic’ pumpkin patch, I would check out one of the farms in the apple picking section. Many of them do offer hayrides as well.
- Butler’s Orchard: I can’t say enough great things about this pumpkin festival. It really does have it all. If you want lots of details about what to expect, check out this post I wrote about it last year!
- Summer’s Farm: Ok, so I didn’t know fall festivals had transformed from hayrides and pumpkin picking to a hay-themed amusement park until Sweet Pea and I visited Summer’s Farm Harvest Festival last year. Read this post to find out more about all the fun attractions at this festival, or visit their site at: http://summersfarm.com/. Additionally, check out their evening corn maze, campfire, and fireworks weekends. Totally cool!
- Milburn Orchards: Milburn Orchards is not just about apple picking. Nope, they open up their big Backyard every weekend in the fall season and host themed events like Apple Harvest or Pumpkin Harvest weekend, Autumn Colors, and Trick or Treat weekend. Admission includes access to all the fun activities in the backyard, a boo barn, corn maze, and a petting zoo. http://www.milburnorchards.com/fall-festival-parties/
- Weber’s Cider Mill Farm: In addition to pick your own apples and pumpkins, Weber’s opens up its barnyard fun area every fall. Activities include hillside slides, a boo barn, hay bale maze, hayrides, and the tire mountain. http://www.weberscidermillfarm.com/webers-farm-barnyard-family-fun.php
- Buppert’s Doran’s Chance Farm: This cute farm in Carroll County is perfect for families with young kids. There is a super fun corn maze, a hayride out to the pumpkin fields where you will pick the pumpkins off the vine, and a few animals to feed as well. The pumpkin season runs weekends during October.
- Gaver Farm Fall Fun Festival: Located in Mount Airy, MD, this fall festival starts earlier than most– it opens September 7th and is open every day through November 4th! The festival boasts over 45 attractions, including a huge corn maze (and a smaller kiddie maze), cow trains, jumping pillows, giant slides, and a petting farm. In the evening, they host campfires and a flashlight corn maze experience. Here is my review of the festival. http://www.gaverfarm.com/fall/fall-fun-festival/
- Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch in Middletown, MD has previously been rated as one of the top 10 pumpkin patches in America. Of course, you have to check it out, right? Festivities include a corn maze, crafts vendors each weekend, the pumpkin patch and hayrides (of course), petting zoo, horse drawn wagon rides, and more. http://www.jumbos.org/index.html
- Sharp’s at Waterford Farm in Brookville, MD will start their fall festivities on Saturday, September 29th. This farm, which is operational throughout the year, will offer hayrides, pumpkin picking, scarecrow making, a corn maze, and feeding farm animals. Read my review too! http://sharpfarm.com/
- Clark’s Elioak Farm: Clark’s Elioak Farm is great anytime of the year. However, it is really super fun in the fall. In addition to the petting farm, there is pick your own pumpkins and special fall festival weekends. Check out my review of the farm too. http://www.clarklandfarm.com/special_weekend_events.html
- Homestead Gardens Fall Festival in Davidsonville, MD kicks off its annual Fall Fest on September 26th with a barnyard, corn maze, and pumpkin patch. https://homesteadgardens.com/upcoming-event/fall-fest-2015/2015-09-26/
- Montpelier Farms Family Farm Park in Upper Marlboro, MD started the season early, by opening their fall festival September 15th. Festivities include a corn maze, hayride, campfires, duck races, gem stone mining, giant slides, and more. http://montpelierfarms.com/5301.html
- Schlagel Farms: During weekends in October, this farm in Waldorf, MD opens it gates to the public for an authentic pumpkin patch experience. http://www.shlagelfarms.com/autumn-fun–pumpkins.html
- Fall Fun With Montgomery County Parks and Rec: Three fun fall festivals put on through Montgomery County include the Apple Festival and Campfire on September 21st, the Honey Harvest Festival on September 23rd, and the Harvest Festival on October 6th. Activities include crafts, hayrides, pumpkins, live animals, apple cider pressing, apple lore, hands-on activities, live music and making s’mores at their campfire ring. For more information and to buy tickets click here: http://www.montgomeryparks.org/special-events/
- Howard County Conservancy Fall Festival: October 7th from 11AM-3PM. Activities include crafts, pony rides, pumpkin decorating, live music, square dancing, demonstrations, and animals! The cost is $10 per car (not per person). https://www.hcconservancy.org/event/fall-festival/
- Winterbrook Farms: https://winterbrookfarmsmd.com/Located in Thurmont, MD, this fall festival boasts the largest corn maze in Maryland. Other activities include pumpkin picking, a zipline, mountain slides and 20 other fun attractions.
- Rose Hill Manor Park Fall Festival Weekend: October 6th-7th from 10AM-4PM at the Rose Hill Manor Park in Frederick, MD. Activities include hayrides, tractor pull, candle dipping, children’s activities, and craft vendors. Children’s crafts are 25 cents each and parking costs $1. For more information click here.
- Great Pumpkin Patch: October 13th-14th from 10AM-4PM at the Old National Pike District Park in Mount Airy, MD. Activities include a hayride, moon bounces, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, pumpkin decorating, and a trick or treat trail with character meet-n-greets. The cost is a little unclear, but I believe it is $5/person. Click here for more information.
- Pumpkinfest at the Irvine Nature Center: October 6th, 12-7PM. Activities include hay rides, live music, a magic show, jugglers, pumpkin painting, face painting, pumpkin bowling and sack races, and haybale slides. Admission is $15 per child and $5 for adults. https://www.explorenature.org/irvine-events/pumpkinfest/
- Fall Harvest Festival, Kinder Farm Park: October 13th. Hayrides, farm animals, face painting and more! http://www.kinderfarmpark.org/flyers/2018FHFFlyer.pdf
There are tons of great fall festivals in Virginia each year. Here are some of the favorites!
- Leesburg Animal Park Pumpkin Village in Leesburg, VA is located in the animal park. The fall activities include a maze, hill slides, moon bounce, and spider web crawl. http://www.pumpkinfestleesburg.com/
- Mount Vernon Fall Harvest Family Days: In addition to just being a super nice place to visit and take in the fall foliage, Mount Vernon hosts a really fun 18th/19th style fall harvest festival. Festivities include farming demonstrations, a discounted river cruise tickets, live entertainment, and more. For more information on this event, you can check out our experience last year here. http://www.mountvernon.org/plan-your-visit/calendar/events/fall-harvest-family-days/
- Ticonderoga Farms: in Chantilly, VA will rev up its Amazing Farm Fun fall festival on September 22nd. There are tons of family friendly activities including jumping pillows, tire play area, ride on toy area, slides, tunnels, a hayride, and a bamboo maze. http://www.ticonderoga.com/fall-festival-2018/
- Fall Carnival and Fall Harvest Days at Frying Pan Farm Park: This lovely little park in Faifax County has a great three-pronged festival geared for families with young kids. 2018 dates are October 12th-15th. https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/frying-pan-park/fall-carnival-harvest-days
- Great Country Farms’ Fall Harvest Pumpkin Festival kicks off on October 1st. This farm, located in Bluemont, VA includes a wounded warrior corn maze, pig races, jumping pillows, pedal carts, rope swings, and cider donuts. http://greatcountryfarms.com/festivals-events/fall-pumpkin-harvest-festival/
- Cox Farms: This super huge fall festival in Centreville, VA opens its doors for a preview weekend on September 15th. It is consistently rated as one of the best fall festivals in the DC metro area. http://www.coxfarms.com/fallfestival.aspx
- Wegmeyer Farms and Wayside Farm Fun: Wegmeyer Farms, which grows 50 varieties of pumpkins, partners with the Wayside Farm in Berryville, VA to deliver some fantastic family fun. There are pig races, a corn maze, hayrides, and much more. Festivities start September 15th and run weekends through November 4th. For information see either of these websites:
- National Apple Harvest Festival: The 2018 festival will be held the first two weekends in October in Arendtsville, PA is celebrating its 54th year. Attractions include over 300 arts and crafts vendors, classic cars, all kinds of apple good eats, hayrides, petting farm, puppet shows, live entertainment, and even tractor square dancing (???– sounds pretty cool!). http://www.appleharvest.com/
- Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in Lancaster, PA is basically a fall festival amusement park. There are so many attractions like the 5-acre corn maze, the Farm Experience, giant slides, build your own Lincoln Log Cabin, fling tennis balls with the giant slinger, and rubber duck races. http://www.cherrycrestfarm.com/
- Maize Quest Corn Maze and Fun Park in New Park, PA seems similar to the Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. More than 30 attractions including a giant corn maze, pumpkin patch, straw bale maze, giant slides, barnyard board game, and a pumpkin patch. http://www.mazefunpark.com/
Halloween With Young Kids
There are quite a few Truck or Treat or Kid Friendly Trick or Treat events in Maryland. This list is likely not complete, but I have tried to link to as many as I could find, mostly in Maryland. Thanks!
- Catonsville Peace A Pizza Trunk or Treat: October 29th at 7PM. You can register to just do the trick or treating or you can also sign up to decorate a trunk, but you must sign up via email because space is limited. This event is free. For more information, click here.
- Truck or Treat at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center in Glenwood: October 27th 10AM-1PM (10-11AM is the sensory friendly hour). This annual trick or treating event is a huge hit as there are tons of trucks that kids can not only hit up for candy, but actually climb on board. There is a $2 entry fee. Click here for more information.
- Halloween Among The Trees at the Robinson Nature Center: October 20th– two sessions starting at 9AM and 1PM. Enjoy a friendly, self-guided trick-or-treating adventure through Robinson’s indoor exhibits and paved trail. Delight in Halloween-inspired music, crafts and tyke-friendly challenges along with live animals and healthy treats from our sponsors (MOM’s Organic Market and David’s Natural Market). All ages- $10, child; $5, adult; Free, siblings under 1 year old. Click here for more information.
- Happy Haunted Hayride at Rockburn Branch Park: October 21st and 28th at 2PM. This Halloween hayride is cute, friendly and not-so-scary for little ones. This event is for fun – not fright! For ages 2-7 years old. $5 cost– cash only.
- BOOseum Bash at Port Discovery: October 27th, 10AM-4PM. Have a shockingly good Halloween at Baltimore’s ultimate Halloween party for kids and families! Put your imagination to work as you dress as your favorite character – and join in fun, interactive and mischievous fun celebrating Frankenstein through science activities that will put a spark in your Halloween fun! https://www.portdiscovery.org/visit/calendar/event/2528/boo-seum-bash-celebrating-frankenstein
- ZooBOOO! at the Maryland Zoo: Trick or Treat with the animals! The 2018 event will run from 26-28 October. https://www.marylandzoo.org/special_events/zoobooo/
- Boo at the Zoo at the National Zoo: 19-21 October 2018. Animal demonstrations, 40 treat stations, and live entertainment. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/events/boo-zoo
- Spooky Science at the Maryland Science Center: https://www.mdsci.org/event/spooky-science/October 27th from noon-4pm. Celebrate the chills and thrills of Halloween at the Maryland Science Center for Spooky Science Day! Creepy chemistry and mysterious science combine to provide a hauntingly good time. Spend the afternoon with us and make gooey, glowing slime, launch creepy catapults, see our mad scientists in a creepy interactive demonstration, and even watch us chuck pumpkins off of the roof!
- AnnMarie Sculpture Garden Halloween In the Garden: October 27th, 10AM-4PM. $2/person. More than 70 community organizations and businesses will decorate booths, don costumes, and hand out candy and treats to all the children. Some free activities will be provided and devilishly delicious food vendors will be present. http://www.annmariegarden.org/annmarie2/content/halloween-garden
- Town of North Beach Halloween BOO Bash: October 27th, 3-5PM. Children’s Costume Contest, trick or treating, and a screening of The Addams Family (as a drive-in movie) at dusk. https://www.northbeachmd.org/special-events/pages/boo-bash
I hope you have a great fun fall season!
Thanks for checking out this guide!