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Cox Farms is open three seasons a year: Summer, Fall and Winter, but for many locals (myself included), fall isn't complete without a visit to the farm! Whether you're there in the daylight to play with some baby animals and enjoy the Fall Festival, or after dark to scare yourself silly at Fields of Fear, you can't help but feeling like a kid again at Cox Farms! Don't forget to stop by the fall market on your way out to grab a pumpkin (warning: they are huge!), gourds, squash, and, of course, apple cider and cider donuts to go with it! (Image: Courtesy Cox Farms)
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The 7 best pumpkin patches within an hour's drive of D.C.

When you are a lifestyle writer, a lot of your story ideas come from your friends' problems, and wanting to solve them! Last weekend, my roommate lamented that she desperately wanted to visit a pumpkin patch but they were all too far away. Enter, DC Refined! Of course, I wanted to help so I set out to scrounge up the best pumpkin patches within an hour drive from the city. And these days, pumpkin patches aren't just about the pumpkin picking anymore. No, now they aren't worth it unless you can take a hayride, slide down some hills in burlap sacks, see some animals and drink some cider. So naturally, our recommendations below are all places that will allow you to pick your pumpkin and have some darn tooting fun, too!

VIRGINIA

Cox Farms

Cox Farms is open three seasons a year: Summer, Fall and Winter, but for many locals (myself included), fall isn't complete without a visit to the farm! Whether you're there in the daylight to play with some baby animals and enjoy the Fall Festival, or after dark to scare yourself silly at Fields of Fear, you can't help but feeling like a kid again at Cox Farms! Don't forget to stop by the fall market on your way out to grab a pumpkin (warning: they are huge!), gourds, squash, and, of course, apple cider and cider donuts to go with it!

  • 15621 Braddock Rd Centreville, Virginia
  • (703) 830-4121
  • http://www.coxfarms.com/
  • Current hours: Fall Festival open daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Oct. 31 and Nov. 4-8; Fields of Fear open Friday and Saturday 7:30 p.m.-11 p.m. through Nov. 5
  • Cost: Fall Festival $6-$17; Fields of Fear $15-$25
  • Approximately a 45-minute drive from D.C.

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest at Leesburg Animal Park

Pumpkin Village is a veritable cornucopia of fall fun! With everything from giant hill slides to hayrides, camel and pony rides, moon bounces, a petting zoo , mazes and a pumpkin playhouse village, it's really a must visit for the family. And Layng's Farm Market will be open daily selling pumpkins, gourds, mums and seasonal treats.

  • 19270 James Monroe Highway Leesburg, Virginia
  • (703)433-0002
  • http://www.pumpkinfestleesburg.com/
  • Current hours: Open daily 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m through Nov. 8
  • Cost: $9.95-$14.95
  • Approximately a 55-minute drive from D.C.

Oatlands Historic House and Gardens

The "U-Pick Pumpkins" option is available every weekend at Oatlands, starting with a hayride to the patch with more than 50 varieties brought in by Wegmeyer Farms -- you can even pick a pumpkin straight off the vine here! Oatlands, a National Trust Historic Site, features a gorgeous mansion and gardens to peruse after you find just the right pumpkin for your carving needs.

  • 20850 Oatlands Plantation Lane Leesburg, Virginia
  • (703)777-3174
  • http://www.oatlands.org/
  • Current hours: Pumpkin picking every weekend in October from 10 a.m.- 3:30 p.m.
  • Cost: Hayrides are $5 for adults -- kids are free; Pumpkins are $0.59/pound
  • Approximately a 55-minute drive from D.C.

MARYLAND

Butler's Orchard

This 300-acre, family-owned farm in Germantown grows more than 25 varieties of fruits, flowers and veggies -- it is a local favorite for pick-your-own produce. But in the fall, they give us the delightful gift of Pumpkin Festival where families can come out and celebrate the harvest with a bounty of fall activities -- think hayrides, giant slides, face painting, corn mazes, pony rides, rubber ducky derbys, apple slingshots and pumpkin cannons. And of course, you can't leave without (over)indulging in some cider, caramel apples and apple cider donuts.

  • 22200 Davis Mill Road, Germantown, Maryland
  • (301) 972-3299
  • http://www.butlersorchard.com/
  • Current hours: Tuesday- Sunday 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (Open 10/31 for pumpkin harvest day)
  • Cost: Admission is free but to participate in the pumpkin festival is $12 (children under two are free)
  • Approximately a 50-minute drive from D.C.

Homestead Farm

Now, if you don't want the fuss of all the "activities" head to homestead and get straight to the picking. Pumpkins, squash and gourds abound. Although they do sneak in one little "extra" on weekends, as pickers can take a hayride out to the patch, where you can take your time enjoying this 230-acre farm owned by the Alnutt family since 1763.

  • 15604 Sugarland Rd, Poolesville, Maryland
  • (301) 977-3898
  • http://www.homestead-farm.net/
  • Current hours: Open daily 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. through Oct. 31; Hayrides offered every weekend in Oct. from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • Cost: Admission is free; Hayrides $3; Pumpkins are $0.59/pound
  • Approximately a 50-minute drive from D.C.

Queen Anne Farm

Queen Anne Farm lets you explore seven varieties of the big orange pumpkins, as well as six different varieties of heirloom pumpkins-white, and gray, and bumpy and tall. Ranging in size from two ounces to more than 200 pounds, you are pretty much guaranteed to find one you like! If you are artistically challenged when it comes to carving, the country store has everything from carving kits, jack-o-lantern patterns, candles, pumpkin paints and more. Or if you're really in a hurry, or don't want the mess, they have already carved and already cleaned pumpkins ready to go home with you (on sale Oct. 30 and 31). And of course, don't miss the petting corral with plenty of lambs and goats for the kids to enjoy.

  • 18102 Central Ave, Bowie, Maryland
  • (301) 249-2427
  • http://www.queenannefarm.com/
  • Current hours: Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Hayrides offered every weekend in Oct.
  • Cost: Free
  • Approximately a 50-minute drive from D.C.

Gaver Farm

Talk about options... Gaver Farms has more than 45 attractions to check out at its Fall Fun Festival, from a cow train to mini mazes and duck races! And after dark, you can make s'mores. After you've checked out the "extras" take a free hayride out to the patch to pick your own from the 12-acres of pumpkins.

  • 5501 Detrick Rd, Mt Airy, Maryland
  • (301) 865-3515
  • http://www.gaverfarm.com/
  • Current hours: Open daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Oct. 31 (Open until 10 p.m. Fri and Sat nights)
  • Cost: $7.50-$10.25; Children under two are free; Pumpkins are $0.59/pound
  • Approximately a 65-minute drive from D.C.
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