Didier Farms

Photo courtesy of Didier Farms

We’ve hit our fair share of pumpkin patches to pick out a collection of decorations for our festive Halloween celebrations. But nothing compares to Didier Farms’ annual Pumpkinfest, located about 45 minutes outside Chicago, which offers a whole day of activities that delight younger children (and their parents).

 Tractor drawn hayrides through a “haunted” maze contain surprises at every turn – (not-very scary) ghosts, goblins and unfortunate souls who never made it out of the rows of corn. Keep your eyes peeled for hilarious scarecrows including Michael Jackson, Darth Vader and Edward Cullen of Twilight fame (he’s much better looking as a vampire than a scarecrow…).
Didier Farms

Photo courtesy of Didier Farms

Didier Farms Pumpkinfest, which runs this year September 20 to October 31, is as much like a carnival as it is a destination to select the perfect pumpkin specimen.  About a dozen mechanical rides, designed for fun not thrills, include a junior Ferris wheel, the Strawberry Spin, a scrambler and fun house.  The large slide ridden down on a burlap sack is always a big hit as is the pumpkin bounce house.

Animal-loving children adore the pony rides, and the more daring (my children included) take a stroll atop a surly camel. There is also the Animal Land Zoo where kids can feed zebras, parakeets and kangaroos.
 And of course there are the pumpkins (any size and color one could possibly imagine) that you’ll want to grab on the way out rather than lugging them around the expansive property. Also
Didier Farms

Photo courtesy of Didier Farms

stop in the bakeshop to bring home some freshly made cinnamon and glazed pumpkin donuts or give the kids a rare treat of old-fashioned homemade taffy apples.

One caveat: all of this amusement doesn’t come cheap.  In 2014, most rides are $3 to $5 a pop, which adds up pretty quickly. Look for weekday deals such as Wristband Thursdays from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. where kids receive unlimited rides for one price and Two-Ticket Tuesdays when rides are $2 all day.  Didierfarms.com; 16678 West Aptakisic Road, Lincolnshire.
Prefer a scarier Halloween experience? Check out the TMOM Twitter party, all about haunted travel, on October 27.