Pumpkin patches, apple orchards and corn mazes to visit in central Iowa this fall
This recipe adds pumpkin into the batter of the breakfast classic, making deliciously moist waffles that give you a dose of vitamin A and fiber. It also incorporates heart-healthy walnuts in the homemade syrup, for an extra boost of nutrients.
Fall will soon be upon us, bringing with it cooler temperatures and turning leaves. That means it's almost time to visit your local apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn mazes.
Several locations also sell recipe-worthy fall produce, pies and other baked goods, local honey, apple cider and, of course, cider doughnuts. And there are plenty of games and activities for the entire family.
Here are places where you can make memories and enjoy the best of Iowa's 2019 harvest season:
Center Grove Orchard
With 25 acres of ripening pumpkins and gourds and more than 6,000 assorted apple trees, Center Grove Orchard is a pick-your-own paradise. Farmyard admission gives you access to more than 25 fun-filled activities including a 5-acre corn maze, 135-foot super slides and pig races.
With many eating venues, a gourmet coffee shop and The Country Store retail shop all within close proximity, finding food is not a problem. Nosh on apple nachos or sip on the new Apple Cider Shake-Up at Shucks, or grab soup in a bread bowl at Hay Cafe. But be sure to save room for The Feed Bunk's famous applesauce and homegrown, hand-cut fries. And no visit to Center Grove Orchard is complete without taking home farmhouse pies, turnovers, cake rolls and, of course, cider donuts from the bakery.
Location: 32835 610th Ave., Cambridge
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until Nov. 3.
Admission: Monday through Friday, $11.95; Saturday and Sunday, $15.95; children age two and younger are free. CGO Express Train included with admission.
Pumpkins are the passion at Geisler Farms. But there's plenty more to find, including outdoor decorations like straw bales and heirloom pumpkins and gourds. One of the main attractions is the 10-acre corn maze — this year's template celebrates its 15th anniversary in the shape of an Iowa-built tractor still in use on the farm.
Edible produce — pie pumpkins and butternut squash — are also available. And homemade pies and jams are found in the Red Shed. Kids can zoom on over to the Fun Zone, which has over 30 attractions including six new attractions like grain wagon hoops, a pumpkin punch rope maze, the barrel roll and steer roping. Weekend food offerings include sandwiches, pumpkin bars and espresso coffee bars. Feel free to reserve a fire pit and/or bring a picnic.
Location: 5251 N.E. 94th Ave., Bondurant
Hours: 1 to 8 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays until Oct. 27.
Admission: Farm admission, $8 each. Children age 2 and younger are free. Pumpkin patch visitors pay no admission.
Howell's Pumpkin Patch
At Howell’s Pumpkin Patch, it's all about having fun on the farm. You can pick your own pumpkin or buy one pre-picked. There are plenty of new attractions this year to go along with the popular corn maze — including a bathtub train, two-seater trikes and push-pull go-karts. Kids can take a ride on a wagon with the price of admission or a pony for $5 more.
Hunt for fall decorations and dried flowers in the gift shop and then refresh yourself with a fall treat from Greenhouse Cafe, such as hot dogs, homemade ice cream and freshly baked pumpkin bars and cookies — a full menu is served on the weekends, including kettle corn and slushies. And don't forget to shoot some fall produce into the air with the corn and pumpkin cannons and take a thrilling zipline ride down the hill (2 rides for $7).
Location: 3145 Howell Court, Cumming
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., until Nov. 3.
Admission: $11 per person; children under age 2 are free.
When fall sets in, Iowa Orchard's unmistakable display of pumpkins appears — one of the largest in this roundup. The apple cider is famous here, as well as 22 varieties of family-recipe pies with a sought-after flaky crust. But keep your appetites open for fruit crisps and caramel apples made from scratch using maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, butter, sweetened condensed milk and pure vanilla.
On the weekends, check out the corn box, big slides, straw bale maze, jumping pillow and giant Legos. It's also a great time to nibble on apple cider doughnuts Iowa Orchard makes for the Iowa State Fair. And if you're looking to pick some apples, visit the orchard at 13140 NW 102nd Avenue in Granger.
Location: 9875 Meredith Drive, Urbandale
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week through Oct. 27.
Admission: Free. Hayride and Farm Fun Zone, $5 per person; children 2 and younger are free.
Pierce's Pumpkin Patch
Since 1981, Pierce's Pumpkin Patch in Chariton has been the place to go for over 120 kinds of pumpkins and gourds. Look for the annual Pumpkin Festival. This year's festival took place Oct. 12-13. Enjoy a hay bale maze filled with tame animals and a country store filled with decor and costume ideas.
Take a tour of the grounds to discover a 1942 WWII-era twin-engine Beechcraft airplane, fire truck, antiques and collectibles, and perhaps the largest private collection of about 180 handcrafted model trains.
Location: 2491 IA-14, Chariton
Hours: Open daily, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. until early November.
Contact: (641) 344-1344;
Admission: Free for all ages. Call ahead for group tours.
The Pumpkin Ranch
There's something for everyone at The Pumpkin Ranch, but the main attraction is the corn maze. It's 10 acres and includes two mini-games to boot — a checkpoint hunt and a fun mystery game to solve. But there don't forget about the two 30-foot tunnel slides, the Toddler Town playground, the Ninja Farm obstacle course, corn pool and the jumping pillow. Also, adults and kids alike can soar down a fun zip line.
Shop for gourds and pumpkins or pick your own perfect pumpkin from the patch. Sip on some specialty cider or snack on walking tacos, breakfast sandwiches or fresh popcorn or sample some tasty morsels from the food trucks parked on the farm. Be sure to check the online calendar for horseback rides, visits from the United States Air Force and Iowa Wild, caricaturists, face painting, family photos and more.
Location: 2425 Hiatt Apple Trail, Winterset
Hours: Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. until Oct. 27.
Admission: $7 on Fridays and $9.50 on Saturdays and Sundays. Children age 2 and younger are free.
Pumpkinville & Cornmaze
You can use your GPS to navigate your way through the 20-acre "scavenger hunt" big maze at Pumpkinville and Cornmaze in Mitchellville or you can let the kids loose in the 15-minute mini-maze. This year's theme is "Lions" and the maze is called "Mighty Jungle." Show your strength with a game of "Tug a Pumpkin," closely resembling tug-of-war, or show your speed with a sack race. More games have been added for the 2019 season.
There's no shortage of straw here — kids can jump around a straw train or jump into a big pile of straw. Shop for a wide variety of pumpkins, savor some cinnamon-spiked cider and hot chocolate, and nibble on tasty treats, including nachos, burgers and hot dogs.
Location: 618 Center Ave. S., Mitchellville
Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., until Nov. 3.
Admission: Free to visit; $7 for the big maze, ages 6 and over; $1 for the mini-maze, ages 3 and up; children 2 and younger are free. Campfires are $25 for the first two hours and $10 for each additional hour.
Wills Family Orchard & Pumpkin Farm
It's Apple and Pumpkin Fest time at Wills Family Orchard on Sept. 28-29, Oct. 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20. Pick your own pumpkins or choose from a pre-picked selection. Pick-your-own apples will be available in limited supply, but pre-picked apples will be available for purchase. Brats, hot dogs, chips, pie by the slice, cider doughnuts and caramel apples are available to whet your appetite.
When you're not roaming through the rope maze, take a ride on the hay wagon or pet the barnyard animals. Then go shopping for cider, wine and other treats made from apples picked right on location. Let the kids loose in the corn pool and the hay bale maze or bring out their inner Picasso with gourd painting.
Location: 33130 Panther Creek Road, Adel
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Farm open through Oct. 27.
Admission: Free to visit the farm store and pumpkin patch. $7 plus tax for the corn maze and activities; children 2 and under are free.
Uncle Bill's Farm
Ten acres of pumpkins are ready to pick at Uncle Bill's Farm in Grinnell. Activities abound at this farm including two corn mazes, giant jumping pillows, indoor beehive viewing, a butterfly exhibit and a chick incubator/brooder. Let the kids take a dive into the corn pool while you shop for barbecue sauces, jams, fall decorations and goods from local artisans at the General Store. On the weekends, kids can enjoy rides and magic shows.
Dine on hot dogs, barbecue pulled pork sandwiches, etouffee, jambalaya and nachos at Uncle Bill's Feed Bag Restaurant. Sip on fresh apple juice or perk yourself up with a steamy cappuccino. Don't forget to pick up some fall mums in a wide assortment of colors and sizes.
Location: 244 400th Ave., Grinnell
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday until Oct. 27.
Admission: $11 per person on weekends; $8 on weekdays. Children 2 and under are free. Admission includes all attractions.
Do you have a pumpkin patch, apple orchard, corn maze and you don't see it on this list? Please contact Brian Carlson to have your place added.