Where to find the best pumpkin patches in Sonoma County

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With October well underway, so begins the run-up to holiday festivities including, of course, decorating jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween. In many households, the carving of a pumpkin is a rite of passage involving judicious selection, a set of time-tested tools and copious amounts of yesterday’s newspaper.

For creative types, the mood of the season must be captured in the facial expression of the carved Jack: is it scary, wry, silly or downright diabolical? Does it resemble someone we know, or echo the simpleton expression that’s been carved in triangles for generations by people whose primary motivation is: get this thing done and out front before trick-or-treaters start arriving?

Adding to the selection pressure is the broad range of heritage pumpkins that are now readily available from mini to maxi, from smooth to warty — in colors like green, cream, yellow and many hues of orange. Offered in varieties like Sugar Pie, Pink Banana and Cinderella, the squatty squashes have become a star player in all manner of autumn decorations and pie.

With all these options in play, it’s no wonder that shopping for the once-humble pumpkin has evolved into a more grand affair. At some local patches, it’s an all-day event, with acres of pumpkin fields to walk, corn mazes, activities for kids, refreshments and a festival atmosphere. As the last rays of the growing season cast their golden light, it’s also a great excuse to get outdoors.

Here are some of our favorite spots to find that essential perfect pumpkin, and more:

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The Great Peter Pumpkin Patch: 4235 Spring Hill Road, Petaluma

The Great Peter Pumpkin Patch at the Petaluma Creamery has fields of fresh pumpkins, a hay maze and corn pit.

It is open the entire month of October. Hours of operation are daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

For more information, visit springhillcheese.com/pumpkin-patch.

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McClelland’s Dairy Pumpkin Patch: 6475 Bodega Ave, Petaluma

This organic dairy turned once a year pumpkin patch features a petting farm, obstacle courses, a haunted house and a corn pit.

The pumpkin patch is open through Oct. 27.

Hours of operation are from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

For more information, visit mclellandsdairy.com/pumpkin-patch.

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Petaluma Pumpkin Patch: 450 Stony Point Road, Petaluma

The Petaluma Pumpkin Patch features several acres of freshly grown pumpkins, a carnival slide, bounce houses, pony rides and a corn maze.

It is open through Halloween night. Hours of operation are from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

For more information, visit petalumapumpkinpatch.com.

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Pronzini Pumpkin Patch: 450 Stony Point Road, Petaluma

The Pronzini Pumpkin Patch also offers a corn pit and “haunted creek trail” which may not be well-suited for children younger than 10, although it’s safe to say that they’ll still appreciate the home-cooked barbecue at the cafe.

It is open through Halloween night. Hours of operation are from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday-Saturday and from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit pronzinitrees.com/pumpkin-patch.

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Muelrath Ranches Pumpkin Patch: 3800 Walker Ave., Santa Rosa

This property features free hay rides, a pumpkin slingshot and a pumpkin cannon. Enjoy hot dogs, marshmallows, cider and nighttime hay rides from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights.

It is open through Halloween night. Hours of operation are from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

For more information, visit muelrathspumpkins.com.

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Punky’s Pumpkins: 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa

Punky’s Pumpkins feature bounce houses, a corn pit and custom cartoon billboards.

It is open through Halloween night. Hours of operation are from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

For more information, visit punkysadobefarm.com.

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Santa Rosa Pumpkin Patch: 5157 Stony Point Road, Santa Rosa

The Santa Rosa Pumpkin Patch features an extensive corn maze, hay rides, petting farms and pumpkin-decorating stations.

It is open through Halloween night. Hours of operation are from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit santarosapumpkinpatch.com.

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Hale’s Apple Farm & Pumpkin Patch: 1526 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol

Although an apple farm since 1883, Hale’s transforms in the fall into a apple farm/pumpkin patch.

It will remain open until supplies last, so it’s better to visit earlier in the season to ensure availability. Hours of operation are daily from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

For more information, visit facebook.com/pages/hales-apple-farm.

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Papa’s Pumpkin Patch: 13110 Occidental Road, Sebastopol

Papa’s Pumpkin Patch features seven different varietals of pumpkins.

It is open through Nov. 30. Hours of operation are from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

For more information, visit farmtrails.org/farm/papa-s-pumpkin-patch.

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Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch: 17740 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg

Grandma’s Pumpkin Patch in Healdsburg features a petting farm and a large hay stack for climbing.

It is open daily through Halloween night. Hours of operation are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, visit facebook.com/pg/healdsburggranny.

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