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:
Denver Downs, Anderson
This family-owned farm has been in operation since 1869 and has long been a favorite venue for picking pumpkins. The selection includes distintive varieties in an array of colors and sizes, along with gourds and squash like Cinderella and Long Island Cheese. Wagons are available to carry out your pumpkins. In addition to the pick-your-own patch, there are more than 30 activities from hay rides to barnyard bonfires, so plan for a full day. Bring a flashlight or glow sticks to navigate the maze by night.
Stewart Farms, Enoree
Meander a massive 7-acre corn maze, take your pick from a 8-acre pumpkin patch, then rest your feet a while on a wagon ride around the property. During the month of October, the farm also offers a number of nightime activities, including The Big Boo (Haunted Maize) for kids 6 and older and nigthtime wagon ride.
Strawberry Hill, Chesnee
You'll be given a game sheet at this 10-acre 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. A wide variety of 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.
Cherry Place Farm, Rock Hill
Have good family fun at this corn maze and pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Activities include hayrides, petting and feeding animals, and barnyard games.
Cotton Hills Farm, Chester
In the Wilson family since 1882, this farm features a 15-acre u-pick pumpkin patch and offers 40-minute wagon rides weekends in October.
Little Cane Creek Farm, Union
This amazing farm offers a 5-acre corn maze, open nights, too, for a fun twist on this popular fall activity. Be sure to bring flashlights. Hay rides and a play area will keep the kids happy for hours.
Clinton Sease, Lexington
Celebrating first responders, the 2021 corn maze is open into evening hours, so bring your flashlight. Admission includes all mazes, unlimited hayrides, playground activities and entrance to the pumpkin patch. There's a nominal fee if you just want to visit the pumpkin patch. A number of special events also are planned for October.
McLeod Farms, McBee
This popular peach farm turns into an autumn playground with a corn maze, wagon rides, apple cider, pumpkin rolls, a corn pit and 10 acres of pumpkins featuring 15 varieties you can pick yourself or buy off the shelf. End your day with an ice cream cone from the roadside market.
West Farm, Moncks Corner
This farm features a challenging 2.9-mile corn maze as well as a tot-size hay bale maze for kids. 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, concessions and several food trucks.
Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens, Mount Pleasant
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 relax 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.
Thompson Farm, Conway
Pick a pumpkin from the patch, then bide some time in this farm's whopping 6.5-acre corn maze and let your kids loose in the 6-acre play area. On Friday nights, bring a flashlight for a more challenging maze affair and stay for the featured movie and fun around the fire pit.