Last week, as Owen and I were planning our visit to see the sunflower bloom, and I mentioned that it was near Homestead Farm in Poolesville, MD, he suggested we do some berry picking, too. I thought that was a great idea to make the most out of the 45-minute drive, not to mention fruit fresh off the farm is always a treat.
Fields of blackberry dreams
Homestead Farm is where we’ve done most of our PYO (pick your own) outings over the years. In fact, it was where we brought Owen for his very first pumpkin patch experience when he was a baby. (Though let’s be real… that probably was more for us than him at that time.) Since then, we have picked much more — strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, tomatoes, apples, and more pumpkins. We’ve been on our own and with school field trips.
Owen’s very first visit, mostly about the photo op
Younger years on a hayride
Gonna eat me a lot of peaches…
It’s not just the PYO (and photo) ops that make Homestead a great outing. There are also farm animals to visit, and the kids always love seeing the pigs, chickens, and goats — even better when they catch them on one of the goat walks. They also offer hayrides out to the pumpkin fields during the fall, and you can purchase more fresh fruits and veggies in the market. A pretty pastoral setting is the backdrop for all of this. It makes for a nice few hours’ escape from the city.
The lovely landscape
Animal lover making some friends
Blackberries are in season now, and Owen and I filled a box of them (which our family then polished off within a couple of days). They should be available for a little while longer, and next up are apples, several varieties of them.
Plenty of berries ripe for picking
The fruits of our labor
There is a $3 picking fee, but that’s deducted from the cost of fruit you pick to bring home. Bring along a picnic lunch, which you can eat in a pavilion next to a pretty patch of zinnias. And in the fall, save room for caramel apples and cider!
Apples up next!
Homestead Farm is located at 15604 Sugarland Road, Poolesville, MD. Hours are 9am – 5pm daily when the farm is open. The PYO season begins in late spring with strawberries and lasts through fall for the pumpkin festival. I always recommend checking the website or calling ahead to be sure the pickings are good that day.
Fall is on its way and so are the scores of festivals that come along with it. They celebrate everything from the season to city neighborhoods to books to cuisine to historic times. Have a blast on the farm, savor local food and culture, go medieval or colonial — all amidst brilliant autumn scenery in the cool, crisp air. Some of the fun has already started, and even more will begin over the next few weeks. This list of celebrations, ordered by start date, will help you plan for it all. Happy Fall!
Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove in Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 23
Admission: Thru 9/11: $19/ages 16 and up, $8/ages 7-15. 9/22-10/23: $24/ages 16 and up, $10/ages 7-15. Free for ages 6 and under
This medieval time trip began in late August and gets a big endorsement from me as one of the best annual events in the area. You just can’t beat the amazing variety of entertainment — exciting jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters, sword swallowers, tight rope walkers and other balancing acts, jugglers, musical performances, puppetry, plus slides, play areas, and games. And walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in Revel Grove, the charming location that resembles a 16th-century village, as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of “mead” is an immensely fun and interesting jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy. Get a glimpse of and a little more background on the event here and here, both previous posts about my love of Ren Fest.
Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 3 – November 6
Admission: $10/ages 13 and up, $8/ages 3-12 (look for a deal here
Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, and more. They also offer field trips and birthday parties, something to keep in mind for autumn-born children. And a tip based on our experience there: Do not, I repeat, do not miss the corn maze. It’s EPIC.
Fall Weekends at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Ongoing; Pumpkin patch open September 17 – October 31
Admission: $5, babies 1 and under are free
This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds adorned with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). Kids can sit on a wall with Humpty, Peek in the Three Bears’ windows, climb aboard Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, explore the Old Woman’s shoe. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and more. On fall weekends, guests can also enjoy special activities like pumpkin coloring and crafts, a teddy bear visit, and gem mining. Face painting and pit beef are also available on Saturdays and Sundays.
Hartland Orchard Fall Festival Weekends
Where: Markham, VA
When: Weekends September 10 – October 30
Admission: $10/ages 3 and up, free for ages 2 and under
Hartland’s long list of opportunities for amusement include hayrides, pumpkin patches, a 60-foot slide, a corn maze, duck and pig races, and pony rides (some activities cost extra). On September 17, be sure to don your coolest accessory for “Cape Day” — everyone who wears a cape, superhero or not, gets $2 off admission. And FYI: The apple picking comes highly recommended.
H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE, WDC
When: September 17, 12-7pm
The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving hip corridor is always huge If you don’t mind crowds, there is tons to see and do. The event features loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; cool art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and kids’ activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is recommended, as parking is guaranteed to be difficult.
Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 17-18
Admission: $17/adults, $8/kids 6-11, children 5 and under are free
At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts and entertainment. More than forty juried artisans from across the nation will demonstrate their trades and sell their wares, while two stages of family entertainment delight audiences with 18th-century amusements. Try your hand at 18th century cricket — demonstrations and cricket games will be played throughout the weekend. General Washington will preside many festivities. And fair fare will be available from the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant concession stands.
Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 17 – November 8
Admission: $10/weekdays, $15/weekends, $17 prime weekend for ages 2 and up
This festival is HUGE. So big that they actually have a Tips & Resources page on the website to help guests prepare and navigate their way around the sprawling venue that contains seven slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and lots more. Expect some lines, especially for the giant slides that take you swooping down several humps over a hillside. There is also a Kiddie Zone just for little ones aged 5 and under. Be prepared for a crowd! September 17-18 is a preview weekend, then it opens daily September 24.
Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park
When: September 17 – November 8
Admission: $12.95/adult, $9.95/ages 2-12, under 2 are free
The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Slides, wagon rides, moon bounces, a maze, pedal carts, and live entertainment are fall additions. And, of course, animals add to the mix of amusement with pony rides, animals to pet and feed, and even camel rides.
Wayside Farm Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 17 – October 30
Admission: $10, ages 2 and under are free
The whole family can enjoy hours of farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, watch piggies race, pick a pumpkin, visit farm animals and check out the goat walk, whiz down slide, romp in the play yard. Admission covers all of those activities and even more. Mention KidFriendly DC at the register and get a 20% discount!
Taste of Falls Church
Where: Falls Church
When: September 17
Falls Church’s annual autumn tradition returns, highlighting the area’s popular restaurants and featuring live entertainment, pony rides, children’s amusements, crafters, businesses and civic organizations. Festival goers can sample cuisine from city restaurant kitchens for $3 per “taste” or 10 “tastes” for $25. The children’s activity tent offers face painting and craft projects. Most rides will also require the purchase of tickets.
National Book Festival
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: September 24
Book enthusiasts, young and old, come from all over for this annual festival that celebrates reading. Works by more than 120 authors, poets, and illustrators will be showcased and the creators themselves will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for special appearances. All genres will be represented on stages — Children, Teens, Picture Books, Contemporary Life, Culinary Arts, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Poetry & Prose, Science and Special Programs — where readings, presentations, book signings, photo ops with writers (and costumed PBS characters), and more exciting experiences for guests will take place. Check out authors scheduled to appear to help plan your day there.
Occoquan Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Where: Mill Street in Occoquan, VA
When: September 24-25
Plan for a day of family fun as the streets of Occoquan come to life with beautiful art, live music and great food! For the 47th year, the historic town will close its streets and host over 300 contemporary and country crafters and artisans from across the US. Find one-of-a-kind, hand crafted items galore! Located just 20 minutes south of Washington DC, but far from the hustle and bustle of a big city, exhibitors and shoppers alike will enjoy the small town oasis nestled along the Occoquan River.
Fall Pumpkin Festival
Where: Ticonderoga Farm, Chantilly, VA
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: $9.95/weekdays, $16.95/holiday and weekends
This festival at one of my favorite farms in the area has all the trappings for a great time on the farm: hayrides, swings, Noah’s Ark playground, hillside slides, s’mores roasting, cornshucking demos, a petting farm, a bamboo maze, antique tractors and firetruck, a pumpkin patch, and much, much more. Some features are available weekends only, but there’s more than plenty to keep kids entertained any day of the week. For a peek at it all, see this post about their Winter Festival and this one about a field trip there.
Where: Belvedere Plantation
When: September 24 – November 5
Admission: $9.25 – $22.50, depending on day/time (look for a deal here)
The Fredericksburg farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. Slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. And the Maize Maze, with a rooster path to navigate, is an adventure in itself. Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.
Where: McLean Community Center
When: September 24
A fun and exciting day for your whole family, activities include field games, fall-inspired arts & crafts projects, a hands-on educational experience with Squeals on Wheels Traveling Petting Zoo, children’s entertainers, yummy concessions, and pumpkin decorating. All activities are included in the entrance fee with the exception of the purchase of pumpkins for $3 and food concessions.
Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
Where: Middletown, MD
When: September 24 – October 31
Pick out a pumpkin and enjoy other fun activities for little ones at this 131-acre farm. A 15-acre corn maze, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, and wagon rides will delight young farm-goers. Concessions and craft shopping are part of the offerings, too.
Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: $7.95/weekdays, $11.95/weekends (look for a deal here)
With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out. Be sure to check the calendar for any special events going on.
Barracks Row Fall Festival
Where: 8th Street SE, Capitol Hill, WDC
When: September 24
Showcasing the marine barracks and commerce of 8th Street SE on Capitol Hill, this annual festival is fun for all ages. Enjoy tours of the historic barracks, live entertainment, a petting zoo, food and art vendors, and tons of fun for kids, including the National Symphony Orchestra’s Instrument Petting Zoo, back for another round of musical amusement. A Beer Garden for grown-ups is a bonus.
Where: Larriland Farm
When: Late September & through October
Larriland is best known for their pesticide-free PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the corn maze. Hayrides are only offered on weekends, while the barn and maze are open every day the farm is open.
Taste of Georgetown
Where: K Street NW, Wisconsin to Thomas Jefferson
When: October 1, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but pay per taste
In its 23rd year, the Taste of Georgetown will showcase the spectacular cuisine of over 30 of the neighborhood’s premier restaurants, highlighting Georgetown’s culinary personalities and featuring more than 60 delectable dishes to sample, as well as wine pairings. Bring young foodies for free activities including face painting, balloon art, and more fun for kids of all ages. Tasting tickets can be purchased online or at the event.
Taste of Bethesda
Where: Woodmont Triangle
When: October 1, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but you pay for food samples
According to some stats, Bethesda has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S. Accurate or not, DC’s suburban neighbor definitely has a food scene worth celebrating. The 27th year of Bethesda’s famous food and music festival will bring 60 restaurants and five stages of entertainment to the downtown’s Woodmont Triangle. Along with delicious food samples and live entertainment, there will be a kid’s corner for face painting, arts & crafts, and more fun for young ones. Admission is free, and taste tickets are sold on-site in bundles of four tickets for $5. Food servings cost one to four tickets. Ticket sales end at 3:30pm.
Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Weekends October 1-30
Admission: $11, free for children 2 and under
Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. An area favorite, kids love jumping in the hayloft, heading out on hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more. Some activities and food cost extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple!
Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms, Bluemont, VA
When: October 1-31
Admission: $10/adults $8/kids weekdays, $12/adult $10/kids weekends, ages 2 and under are free
Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Rubber Ridge, the tractor tire mountain; the Pumpkin Princess in the pumpkin patch, a giant Pumpkin’ Jumpin’ Pillow; five mazes; 60-foot slides, rope swings, tractor rides, and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, the largest u-pick patch in the area. See a weekend schedule of activities here.
Fall For Fairfax KidsFest
Where: Fairfax County Government Center, VA
When: October 1-2
This annual event by Celebrate Fairfax, Inc. includes exciting, interactive, and educational programs, entertainment and activities. Especially designed for families with elementary and pre-K aged children, activities include scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, public safety and recycling-themed exhibits, pony rides, a petting zoo, hay rides, model trains, and the KidWay MidWay with more than a dozen rides, bounces, and attractions. And that’s just for the kids. Adults can enjoy more than 75 exhibits, live entertainment, activities, and great festival food. While admission is free, some rides and concessions will require a fee. And be sure to check back on their website – the live entertainment has yet to be announced, and they usually have some pretty big-name acts perform.
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds, MD
When: October 1-2
Admission: $7/21+, $5/ages 4-20, free for 3 and under
The Frederick Fairgrounds are transformed into a German village where dancing, live music, children’s events, bratwurst, Oktoberfest bier, German wines, and much more will make for a fun time for all ages. Especially for kids: face painting, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow making, musical entertainment, and they claim they have a few more tricks up their sleeves just to keep everyone surprised. (See a schedule of activities here.) This all benefits Frederick County charities.
Where: Schlagel Farm
When: Weekends in October, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $8/ages 2 and up
The farm known for it’s strawberry picking in spring also welcomes guests to pick out pumpkins in the fall. Hayrides, farm animals to visit, and small slides, and a straw maze give kids a little extra fun, too.
Taste of DC
Where: Pennsylvania Ave., 3rd-7th Streets NW, WDC
When: October 8-9, 12-7pm
Admission: Start at $10
Celebrate the food, wine, and culture of our the city during Columbus Day weekend. Along with the obvious — tastings from more than 50 area restaurants — there will be cooking demos, live entertainment, a beer garden, and an area with activities — dancing, games, storytelling, arts & crafts,and more — especially for kids.
Farm Harvest Days & Carnival Fun
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 13-16
Admission: Free, but activities are extra
Fall is a busy — and fun — time on the farm, and you can be part of it at Frying Pan’s annual festival! Carnival fun and games start on run October 13-16 with rides, games, fair food, and more. On Saturday & Sunday, you can also watch the cider press in action, milk a goat, shell corn, peel apples, meet farm animals, and see traditional farm demonstrations.
18th Century Autumn Market Fair
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: October 15-16, 11am – 4:30pm
Admission: $8/adult, $3/ages 3-12, under 3 are free
Enjoy the splendor of fall on a living history farm. Warm yourself by the fire while savor crisp local apples, spit roasted chicken, and hearty breads. Watch and participate with period tradesmen like the spinners and blacksmith. Live music, singing and dancing, and games are also among the festivities. And kids will delight in seeing turkeys, pigs, and chickens. Period food, beverages, and wares available for purchase.
Game On, Greater Washington
Where: FedEx Field
Admission: Free (but some activities are extra)
The American Diabetes Association is teaming up with the Washington Redskins for this one-of-a-kind festival featuring activities for the entire community, from rappelling and zip lining, to biking and fun runs, and everything in between. Including a ton of family and kid friendly events (kids’ zone with glitter tattoos, inflatable bounce and slide and so much more), the adventure-filled day is designed to raise funds for diabetes education, programs, research and advocacy. Registration fees vary depending on activity but the Kids’ Zone and entrance is free, and it’s an awesome opportunity to check out the Redskins stadium like never before, all while having fun for a good cause.
Fall Festival and Craft Beer Showcase
Where: Cathedral Commons
When: October 22
Cathedral Commons, the mixed-use development located on Wisconsin Avenue, is hosting its second annual Fall Festival & Craft Beer Showcase. The free community event will feature live entertainment including craft beer tastings, live music, food offerings from neighborhood restaurants, and fall activities for the kids — a pumpkin patch, pumpkin decorating, face painting, and an inflatable slide.
Marker-Miller Orchards Festivals
Where: Winchester, VA
When: Several weekends in October
There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with a couple of different festivals taking place. The Apple Harvest Festival is October 8-9, offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: 20 varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. October 22 is their annual Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard.
Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: October – exact dates TBD
Admission: Free, but there are fees for some activities
While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family. And the good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is free! You still pay for pumpkins and cider – and their can’t-miss caramel apples.
Have a favorite festival you don’t see listed here? Let us know about it in the comments!