From pumpkin carving to apple picking to cider drinking, autumn is packed with inexpensive ways to have fun.
Just step foot on Weber's Cider Mill Farm, and the scent of fall flowers and oven-fresh pies is enough to erase the prospect of the looming winter season.
The farm, which is owned by Steve Weber, offers numerous activities for all members of the family, including a scarecrow workshop. As Weber circles the farm, children are yanking their parents from one activity to the next. Just below the turkey pen is a foot-high hay maze, the younger kids' version of the nearby corn maze that is meant for older children and their parents. The apple trees surround the "hay slide," made from hog-house walls with burlap sacks to use as cushions. There are pedal-tractors for the young farmers and a petting zoo that includes bright, blue peacocks and a family of goats.
Although pumpkin-picking is not offered at Weber's, the country store has a variety of freshly plucked pumpkins ripe for purchasing. If pumpkins are not your thing, the selection of sold goods ranges from crisp apples and produce to home-style baked goods and licorice.
For those who seek pumpkin-picking tips from an industry professional, Weber has some suggestions: "The darker color usually means more seeds inside. For those looking to make pies," he said, "pick a firm one with a good stem."
Here are pumpkin patches and farms around Maryland:
Albright Farms Produce, 3505 Sweet Air Road, Phoenix. Find pumpkins, produce, plants, greens and hay. Hours are 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays through October. 410-666-1116.
Huber's Produce Farm, 11898 Philadelphia Road, Kingsville. Pick your own pumpkins and produce and take haunted hayrides around the farm. Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through November and weekends in December. 410-679-1941.
North Run Farm, 1701 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson. Visit the pick-your-own-pumpkin patch, walk through the 5-acre corn maze, take hayrides and see the farm zoo. Hours are 2 p.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends through Nov. 9. 410-241-3392.
Weber's Cider Mill Farm, 2526 Proctor Lane, Parkville. Walk through a display of painted and decorated pumpkins, make a scarecrow and explore the minimaze. Hours are 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily through Oct. 30; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, Oct. 31 through December. 410-668-4488.
Baugher's Farm Orchard Market, 1236 Baugher Road, Westminster. Pick pumpkins and purchase fruits, vegetables, baked goods, apple cider, apple butter and more. Sample homemade ice cream, visit the petting zoo and take hayrides. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through October. 410-848-5541.
Clark's Elioak Farm, 10380 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City. Venture into the pumpkin patch for that perfect find, go through the hay-bale maze, take hayrides and visit the petting farm. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays until November. 410-730-4049.
Larriland Farms, 2415 Woodbine Road, Woodbine. Celebrate the season by picking pumpkins, taking hayrides and venturing through the hay maze. Hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends through early November. 301-854-6110.
Sharp's at Waterford Farm, 4003 Jennings Chapel Road, Brookeville. Enjoy pumpkin-picking, feeding animals, taking hayrides and exploring corn mazes through mid-November. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends through October. 410-489-2572.
Anne Arundel County
Green Street Gardens, 391 W. Bay Front Road, Lothian. Indulge in pumpkin picking, hayrides and a corn maze. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through January. 410-867-9500.
Pumphrey's Home Grown Vegetables, 8220 Veterans Highway, Millersville. Pick your own pumpkins, explore a corn maze, choose from a selection of fresh vegetables and see farm animals. Hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily through November. 410-987-4290.