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Pumpkin Patches + Petting Zoos = Fall Family Fun

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As soon as the first hint of autumn rolls around, my three kids ask on a regular basis when we can go to the pumpkin patch. This is not simply because they’re eager to gather Halloween décor. To my kids (all under the age of 12), fall means visiting the farm and getting all the animal petting, ropes course playing and barbecue eating they can squeeze into one afternoon.

This is because Central Oregon is home to more than one terrific spot to celebrate fall.

The first place for some true family fun is Smith Rock Ranch. Known for its ever-changing, intricately designed corn maze (this year is Godzilla), this ranch offers heaps of harvest amusement for all ages. Another big draw for kids is the pumpkin cannon. Who doesn’t want to launch a pumpkin and see it fly? There are more activities here than you can shake a stick at, from wagon rides to archery and barnyard golf. Parents like to purchase seasonal produce from the Harvest Market too. Families can easily spend an entire day at this festive locale.

Philip Kuntz
Philip Kuntz

All of this is conveniently down the road from Smith Rock State Park. My family likes to take advantage of our outing with a scenic hike on one of the many trails. Because the summer heat is gone by this time, it’s a great chance to walk along the river and view all of the climbers who scale the surrounding rock walls. This area never fails to astound me with its pristine beauty.

On the way home, you can stop for dinner at Terrebonne Depot. Located just minutes from Smith Rock, this American cuisine restaurant is housed in a 100-year-old former train station. Dining here is the perfect way to complete your visit to the area.

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Another local favorite is DD Ranch (known to locals as the ‘D and D’). Located three miles east of Terrebonne, on NE Smith Rock Way, is a quintessential family ranch complete with petting zoo, pony rides, hay maze, playground and more.

Being at the DD Ranch feels like spending the day at an old-fashioned fair complete with cotton candy, kettle corn and face painting. The kids have their run of the place as they pick their own pumpkins from the patch (everyone gets the use of a red wagon to help with their load). You can jump on a tractor-guided hayride and tour the property. There’s also a place to snuggle baby bunnies and feed the lamas and chickens. The ropes course area also offers slides and lots of climbing.

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What farm experience would be complete without a home cooked BBQ? The Cafe BBQ Grill will cook you a tasty hamburger or hot dog made from beef and pork raised right there on the ranch. They also cook up potato chips, made from potatoes grown right on the farm. You can even dig up your own potatoes to take home.

Our visit always includes a purchase of their 100% grass fed beef, natural pork, raw honey and farm-raised eggs. It’s the easiest way to stock our kitchen with some wholesome organic food.

Nicole Meier
Nicole Meier
Nicole Meier is a writer, travel blogger and social media consultant. The Source Weekly named her travel blog, Have Tote Will Travel, (www.havetotewilltravel.com) among the best local blogs of Central Oregon in 2013. When she’s not running her three kids from pillar to post, Nicole and her husband can be found skate skiing, paddle boarding or camping in Central Oregon’s playground.
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