As cooler air begins to creep in and shades of red, yellow and orange start to emerge on the trees, you know it's time to plan a visit to the pumpkin patch. Fans of this fun fall tradition have plenty of options to choose from in the Chattanooga area, where many local farms take on a festival-like atmosphere for the month of October. Along with pumpkin picking, you'll find everything from fireworks to elaborate corn mazes to haunted adventures after dark. Pumpkin patches are an ideal day trip for families, couples or anyone looking for great photo opps. Whether it's your first time visiting a pumpkin patch or you're in search of a new spot — some local favorites such as McDonald Farm won't be opening this fall — we have you covered.
Crabtree Farms offers a wide variety of seasonal U-pick options — incuding strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, flowers and Christmas trees — with pumpkins available during October. You can also register to carve pumpkins or build a scarecrow, which will be on display throughout October so visitors can vote for their favorite to win the farm's second annual scarecrow competition. If you don't have time for a drive to more rural areas, Crabtree is your best bet, as it's the only pumpkin patch within the city of Chattanooga.
1000 E. 30th St.; 423-493-9155; crabtreefarms.org
The River Maze at Birchland Ocoee Farms
Drive time: About an hour (45 miles)
In addition to the usual fall festival and farm fun type of activities — which include a jump pad in addition to pumpkin picking — The River Maze also has more creative offerings like the Flume Zoom, which consists of 30-foot slides modeled after the flume line tubes feeding the Ocoee #2 Powerhouse on the nearby Ocoee River. Plus there's an educational maze with an anti-bullying theme, corn tubs (similar to sand boxes, but filled with kernels of corn grown on the farm rather than sand), and the cow train, a man-made train (no actual cows involved) running continuously around the farm for kiddos to ride. Among the most impressive corn mazes in the area, The River Maze is built by The Maze, the world's largest corn maze company. (Who knew there was such a thing?) The farm also boasts a sunflower field perfect for photo opps.
173 Welcome Valley Road, Benton, TN; 423-650-0710; therivermaze.com
Guthrie Pumpkin Farm and Corn Maze
Drive time: About an hour (51 miles)
While this family farm's main focus is Angus beef, it also puts serious effort into its fall festivities. Between the animal petting barn, corn maze, wagon rides and pumpkin picking, this place has enough to do to fill an entire day. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October. Admission includes corn maze, sand bin and bounce pad, and make sure you arrive with time to spare as the last ticket is sold one hour before closing. Don't forget to pick up a fried Oreo with your hot dog, hamburger or chilli fries.
490 County Road 67, Riceville, TN; 423-650-2939; guthriepumpkinfarm.com
Copper Creek Farm
Drive time: About an hour (60 miles)
While you can choose a pumpkin from a large selection at Copper Creek, you won't be picking it off the vine in a pumpkin patch. But you will get the full farm experience, including a corn maze, hay rides, petting barn and more. Admission covers all 25 farm activities, such as pig races, pumpkin cannons, a mechanical bull, gem mining, pony rides and ziplining. Stick around for fireworks at dusk every Friday and Saturday night in October. Copper Creek's Haunted Farm Night Adventure starts at 6 p.m. and features a haunted corn maze, flashlight maze, hayrides and a bonfire with roasted marshmallows. If you need to let off a little steam, head here on Nov. 6 for Pumpkin Smash Day. If all those activities leave you hungry, the Copper Creek Grill offers hot foods like pizza and barbecue sandwiches, and Country Cabin Sweets & Treats has homemade ice cream and fun desserts such as Key lime pie on a stick and chocolate-dipped cheesecake. Another unique offering here is the Babes Country Club, which will keep the youngest kiddos in your group occupied while you play on the farm. Reserve a spot in advance on the farm's website.
1514 Reeves Station Road, Calhoun, GA; 706-280-5592; coppercreekfarm.com
Cedarwood Pumpkin Patch
Drive time: About an hour and a half (80 miles)
Cedarwood has provided pick-your-own pumpkins for more than two decades, along with an abundance of activities on the farm's 100 acres including the tractor-pulled Pumpkin Train, hay maze, "tire city," pedal car track, jump pad, corn crib, petting zoos and weekend bonfires. Take a bit of farm life home from the Country Store, with offerings such as mums, gourds, pumpkins, scarecrows, straw bales, corn stalks and more to make your home feel fall-ready. No need to eat before you come — Cedarwood's Country Kitchen has plenty of corn dogs, hot dogs, chicken strips, barbecue and homemade desserts. Note the change to Central time, and that only cash and checks are accepted.
2900 Old Nashville Highway, McMinnville, TN; 931-939-3960; cedarwoodfarmstn.com