There’s finally a chill in the air, pumpkins are everywhere, your Halloween prep is in full swing and stores are starting to put their Thanksgiving decorations on the shelves. Yep, autumn is finally here.
Looking for ways to celebrate the season? If you’re in Washington, doubtless the Fall Classic is on your mind, as D.C. will be hosting a World Series for the first time since FDR was president (that’d be 1933). But for the rest of us, more traditional fall activities may have to do. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: any time of year that puts apple cider and pumpkin spice on the dining room table is OK by us.
Here are eight perfectly wonderful places to celebrate the joys of autumn in the Baltimore area.
Pick a pumpkin at Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
Celebrating its 25th year this season, this 131-acre (about 30 of which are devoted to pumpkins) Frederick County mainstay offers pick-your-own soon-to-be-jack-o-lanterns at 59 cents a pound, which shouldn’t dent your purse or wallet all-that-badly. And if finding the perfect pumpkin isn’t enough, there’s also a 15-acre corn maze, pony rides, face painting, all sorts of good food (kids should try the Grilled Cheese Sandwich Meal, only $5) and — a great idea for those who still need a Halloween costume — a “Cowboy Package” that, for $15, includes a cowboy hat, goodie bag and bandana. In 2016, msn.com called Jumbo’s one of the Best Pumpkin Patches in the U.S., and we’re not gonna argue the point.
6521 Holter Road, Middletown. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. jumbos.org.
Take a hayride through fairytales at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Just about every farm in Maryland seems to offer hayrides this time of year, but how many of them take you past theme park exhibits that delighted your grandparents back when they were kids? Clark’s Elioak Farm, with Howard County roots going back more than 200 years, includes fairy tale-themed exhibits moved here from the Enchanted Forest on Route 40 in Ellicott City, a childhood must-see from 1955 until it finally shut down for good in 1994. Sure, riding on a hay-covered tractor is cool and all, but it’s immeasurably cooler when you pass by the Old Woman in the Shoe’s house, Willie the Whale and Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach on the way.
10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, until 5:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, through Nov. 3. $7-$8 admission, plus $2 (on weekdays) for a hayride. clarklandfarm.com.
Get spooked at Field of Screams Maryland
Honorable mention (and extra points for atmosphere) to Laurel’s House of Horror, housed in an abandoned movie theater, and how creepy is that? But for the most scares possible, it’s hard to beat the five (that’s right, five!) different scenarios Field of Screams offers to shock the bejeebers right out of you: a 13-station “Haunted Trail” through the forest; a 30-minute walk through a “Trail of Terror,” complete with 13 small haunted houses; a “Slaughter Factory,” where “legend” has it a deranged factory owner slaughtered his employees (in an especially grisly way) some 30 years ago; “Carnival Town Games,” offering a Zombie Brain Smash, Crypt Ring Toss and Body Bean Bag Pumpkin Toss; and the “Lizzy Borden Axe Toss,” where you’re welcome to see just how good you are at heaving an ax (don’t worry, there are zombie targets, nothing live). It’s all so deliciously horrifying.
Terrifyingly open through Nov. 2, 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Oct. 31, 6:30 p.m.,-11 p.m. Saturdays (except Nov. 2), 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Thursdays (except Halloween), Sundays and Nov. 2. $4-$22 per attraction, with combo passes available for $51-$120. 4501 Olney Laytonsville Road, Olney. screams.org.
Get lost in the Harry Potter-themed Maryland Corn Maze
Harry Potter fans (and aren’t we all?) should love getting lost in this six-acre maze, laid out (if seen from above) with likenesses of Harry Potter, Hogwarts and other things magical. And when you’re done, all sorts of additional Potter-inspired fun awaits, including the Mirror of Erised, broomstick swings, Harry & Ron’s flying car and more. Quidditch slingshots, too!
Open through Nov. 3, 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays, plus 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Oct. 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 22. $12-$20. 389 Gambrills Road, Gambrills. mdcornmaze.com.
Go apple picking at Baugher’s
Wandering through an orchard and picking your own apples may be the single best thing about fall; it’s certainly the tastiest. At Baugher’s, $2 buys you a wagon ride out to the orchard, where deliciousness can be picked right from the source, then taken home for an entirely reasonable $1.49 a pound. And as good as the apples are in and of themselves, might we suggest you learn to make applesauce at home, to increase the pleasure even more? Then, of course, there are the cooked-fresh apple pies, which no fall should be without. And by all means, don’t leave without a gallon or two of apple cider. Yummy.
Apple picking at Baugher’s is available 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through October, although it’s always a good idea to call ahead first (410-857-0111) to find out just what apples are available, and how many. Additional dates may be offered; check the website. 1015 Baugher Road, Westminster. baughers.com.
Show off your Halloween costume at Power Plant Live
Lots of Halloween parties happening all over town, and we’re sure they’re all wonderful and eerie and a helluva good time. But Power Plant Live gets the nod because, not only is the celebrating there boisterous and colorful and gaudy and fun, but two parties are scheduled for this Inner Harbor hot spot. On Oct. 24, the Halloween Rally — Glow Edition, beginning at 10 p.m., offers unlimited access to participating bars and five drink tickets ($40-$50). Two days later, Oct. 26, Halloween ’19 — Zombie World promises, for $12-$20 (buy your tickets early, as the price increases the closer the party gets), access to every PPL bar and club, a costume contest with more than $10,000 in cash and prizes, and music from DJ Sal Flip and Double Date. Eating brains, happily, is optional. $12-$20.
34 Market Place, Inner Harbor. powerplantlive.com.
Go leaf-peeping at Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
If you want to see gorgeous vistas of colorful fall leaves, just find a road that isn’t cluttered with urban sprawl and start driving; maybe head north on Falls Road or west on Interstate 70 (the closer you get to the mountains of Western Maryland, the better). To get a high-quality view that can be enjoyed at your own pace, however, try some of the walking trails along the 184-mile C&O Trail, which hugs the Potomac River and offers breathtaking views of both the water and the forests that line it. For best results, maybe stick to the part of the trail running along Green Ridge State Forest, from roughly Paw Paw to Indigo Neck. Don’t forget your camera.
The trail runs from Cumberland south to Washington, D.C. nps.gov/choh.
Watch a football showdown at the Turkey Bowl
A fall tradition since 1920 — the fall tradition, if your family has ties to the contending high schools — this annual Thanksgiving Day game between arch-rivals Loyola Blakefield and Calvert Hall gets played for the 100th time this year. Regardless of how the rest of the season goes, this one game is really all that matters if you’re a Cardinal or a Don. Both teams have room to brag: Calvert Hall has won five straight Turkey Bowls, but Loyola leads the series, 49-42-8. The kids play hard, the fans cheer loud, and if your team wins, the turkey tastes especially good. The heck with the World Series; in Baltimore, this is the Fall Classic.