Amazing mazes and pudgy pumpkins are as central to the autumn rituals of South Carolina as apple picking and football. When milder weather crooks its finger, those who heed the summons find rewards in the viney patches and green labyrinths of rural farms and fields.
No matter which part of the state you're visiting or living in, fall fun for the entire family is a short car trip away. To help you plan your excursion, we've put together tips and a list of farms and other venues where you can both navigate a corn maze and pick the perfect pumpkin. Most are only open on designated days and charge a fee for activities, so call ahead to confirm times of operation and costs. Happy fall, y'all!
Corn maze tips:
* Wear comfy walking shoes and dress for the weather. South Carolina autumn temperatures can be quite hot, especially on sunny days.
* Bring a water bottle for your corn maze journey. All that walking is bound to make you thirsty.
* If you are visiting at night, don't forget a flashlight.
* Put on bug spray and sunscreen, and if it's particularly sunny, wear a hat for added protection.
Pumpkin picking tips:
* Check pumpkins for soft spots or bruises. Choose pumpkins with firm skin and no cracks.
* Choose pumpkins that are uniform in color. An orange pumpkin with some green areas is not yet ripe.
* Check the pumpkin for signs of insects. If you find small holes, chances are the pumpkin has a critter problem. Move on to the next.
* Don't carry pumpkins by the stem as it might break off and ruin the look.
* If you're getting more than one, you might want to bring a small wagon to haul your pumpkins in, if your chosen destination does not provide one. (A quick call should easily confirm.) If you're perusing a "pick-your-own" patch, a pocket knife will come in handy for cutting the pumpkin from the vine.
Here's where to find an awesome corn maze and pumpkin patch, according to region:
A family operation with a pick-your-own pumpkin patch and corn maze. At night, you can have scary fun in their haunted corn maze. Bring a flashlight.
"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is the 2016 theme for fall fun at this farm, so a visit to this maze is sure to thrill little ones. In addition to a pick-your-own patch, there are more than 30 activities from hay rides to a corn cannon, so plan for a full day. Bring a flashlight or glow sticks to navigate the maze by night.
Enjoy getting lost in a 4-acre maze dotted with riddles and fun facts, then pick your own pumpkin from the patch or the pumpkin stand. There are also hayrides and a gem mine for budding prospectors.
Meander a massive 7-acre corn maze, take your pick from a 6-acre pumpkin patch, then rest your feet a while on a wagon ride around the property.
You'll be given a game sheet at this corn maze with questions and clues to help you find your way out. It is open through the evening hours, so bring a flashlight if you'll be visiting at night. Farm-grown pumpkins are available ready-picked and there's a hay ride, too. If hunger strikes, hit up the café and ice cream parlor.
This nature preserve goes all out on October weekends with its annual Fall Frolic. Included in the fun is a 4-acre corn maze, a hay bale maze and pumpkin patch. Horse rides, farm animals, a tractor ride and more make for an unforgettable autumn day.
Have good family fun at this corn maze and pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
For one Saturday only in October, have fun at Farm Fair. The 2016 event takes place on October 8. This farm distinguishes itself with a maze made of cotton plants rather than corn. Go crazy trying to pick from 90-acres of pumpkins - the state's largest patch. Other activities include a pumpkin catapult, wagon ride, live bluegrass and pumpkin carving.
This amazing farm not only has a 4-acre corn maze, but there's a straw bale maze, too. Pick from the patch or choose a pre-picked pumpkin. Hay rides and a play area will keep the kids happy for hours.
You'll salute this patriotic-themed corn maze that's open into evening hours, so bring your flashlight. Pick a pumpkin through mid-November. With reservations, you can purchase a campfire package that includes a hay ride, s'mores around the campfire and a hot dog supper for the entire family.
Come play in the corn maze, then grab a pre-picked pumpkin or snag one from the patch. Kids will fall for the giant tube slide, rope maze, tire mountain, farm animals and more.
This popular peach farm turns into an autumn playground with a dinosaur-themed corn maze in 2016, pumpkin picking from the patch or off the shelf, and tractor rides. End your day with an ice cream cone from the roadside market. For extra fun, come to the fall festival the Saturday before Halloween.
This Sumter County farm has all you need for a fun fall day: corn maze, you-pick pumpkin patch and hayrides.
This farm features a challenging 2.8-mile corn maze as well as a tot-size version. Pick a pumpkin from the Pumpkin Barn, say "hello" to the farm animals, and let the kids loose in the play area. There are also hay rides, an apple slingshot, scarecrow contest and concessions.
Fall is a hoot at this historic landmark's annual autumn playground, The Pumpkin Patch. Wend your way through the corn maze, visit the petting zoo and rest your feet on a hayride. Lots of pumpkins grown onsite will be on display for your picking pleasure. A play area packed with fun activities and inflatables will elicit giggles from the kids and wear them out for a peaceful ride home.
Pick a pumpkin from the patch, then bide some time in this farm's whopping 6-acre corn maze. On Friday nights, bring a flashlight for a more challenging maze affair and stay for a rousing fireworks show.