Orange County may no longer be the agricultural mecca for which it was named, but what it lacks in farmland it more than makes up for in festive holiday spirit. In time for Halloween, pumpkin patches spring up all about the county, boasting bouncy houses, pony rides and the best gourds this side of Plymouth. If you prefer, you can simply get your pumpkin from a bin at the store, but your children will silently resent you.
Great Pumpkin Harvest 2013
Orange County Great Park
Interstate 5 and 405 Freeways
Irvine, CA 92618
Centrally located and expertly designed, Orange County Great Park hosts just one of its many delightful events at Halloween time. The 5th Annual Great Pumpkin Harvest returns on Oct. 26, bringing with it all the family fun you could want or handle, and all for free. Games, rides, carving and cooking demonstrations, puppet shows and a festive thematic maze await returning and new visitors. While supplies last, children under the age of 13 will receive a complimentary gift pumpkin. Come out on Saturday, Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.
Laguna Hills Mall
24203 Avenida de la Carlota
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
Pumpkin City is just that; a metropolis of pumpkin-picking family fun and adventure. Rides and attractions for young and old, and really young, one visit to this absolutely entertaining village of thrills and Pumpkin City will become as much a part of your Halloween tradition as candy and carving the pumpkin itself. With bounce houses, carnival games, a petting zoo, swings, slides and pony rides, Pumpkin City’s Pumpkin Harvest Farm is open at the Laguna Hills Mall through Halloween.
Manassero Farms Irvine Market
5840 Walnut Ave.
Irvine, CA 92604
If sheep pens and mini-roller coasters are more what you’re looking for in a pumpkin-procuring experience, and you prefer the simple hay-strewn lot that you remember visiting as a youngster, bring the family on down to Manassero Farms. A quaint, though well appointed and supplied farmers market awaits those of a more sylvan disposition. Plus, it has a beautiful produce selection, including pumpkins. Make this holiday tradition all about family togetherness and save the goat petting for your birthday.
“Wicked Fun” Trick or Treat Festival
Orange County Market Place
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Once you’ve got your pumpkin, come to the Orange County Fairgrounds and let artist and sculptor Doug Goodreau show you how to carve it. Create your own masterpiece while the whole family enjoys live music, dancing and pre-Halloween trick-or-treating. See a one-of-a-kind car show featuring exclusively hearses. Magic, comedy, a costume contest and kids dressed up as things meant to scare you also await you on Sunday, Oct. 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
Johnson Brothers Pumpkin Patch
15500 Jeffery Road
Irvine, CA 92618
If you live in or regularly visit Orange County, you have probably purchased a pumpkin or Christmas tree from Johnson Brothers. It has been doing festive business since 1989. There are, of course, pony rides and bouncy houses on hand. No self-respecting pumpkin patch would be caught without them. But what sets Johnson Brothers apart are the literally thousands of pumpkins. From truly tiny to larger than you can manage, you will find exactly the specimen you want, or rather, specifically the one your kids talk you into. Let the little ones enjoy the massive, thrilling and safe play area while you speculate on what it takes to get so many pumpkins and Halloween decorations in one place in urban Irvine.
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Christopher Schmidt is a freelance writer experiencing and espousing the glory that is Orange County. Driven to travel, drawn to sports, spirits and celebrity, Chris’ work can be found on