So you’re wondering which is the best farm near DC to visit to get the full fall festival experience, right? After researching a few options, I chose Butler’s because it has everything, including crowd-limiting with tickets. The main attractions are listed below, but the kids (4 and 5-year-olds) seemed to enjoy the slides, the hay romp and hay maze the most. This is a great park for the toddler age — ideal for 3-5 years. Older kids may find the activities a bit young, but they can still have a good time. We had a blast!
– apple cider donuts (get them early, the food barn closes by 5pm)
– kettle corn
– corn maze
– hay maze
– hay romp in a barn
– 3 slides
– farm animals
– pedal tricycles
– playground areas: wooden castle, train,
– pumpkins patch picking
– tractor ride
WHEN TO GO & DURATION
To avoid large crowds, I’d recommend to go on a weekday. What’s great is that you can see how many tickets are left in a day so that can give you some indication of crowd levels to expect. The weekends are now selling out in advance. They give you two hours to roam the grounds, but honestly, you could easily spend double that. We’ve gone three times now, and we still haven’t done every single activity. Buy tickets from their website: https://butlersorchard.ticketspice.com/pumpkin-harvest-days
It’s about 40 minutes from Washington DC in Germantown, Maryland.
Once you turn onto Wild Cat Road, you’ll go down some beautiful and scenic turns, follow the signs for Pumpkin Harvest Days, and you’ll come to a greeting “tool booth” at the entrance where you show the QR code from your ticket. After that you keep driving a short distance up the hill and the parking for the event is on the right. If you keep going straight you will end up at the pumpkin patch. (We did that at the end of the day. Leave some time for this if you want to visit the patch, otherwise you can purchase pumpkins also in the festival area.)
As soon as you enter you’ll see a farm house that sells food, and most importantly, the apple cider donuts! Now, pro-tip: as soon as you see the line die down a bit, I suggest you go! Don’t wait until the very end of the day because (1) the stand closes at 5pm, even though the park opens until 6pm (2) the donuts sell out! The donuts are $12 for a pack of 6.
We bought the $2 feed for the animals in advance on their website. I did not see an option to buy it once inside, so I’d recommend buying it in advance. You get a tiny plastic red box with some feed pellets. It’s seems like a small amount, but makes sense because they don’t want to over feed. I love that they limit the number of boxes for this too! Don’t fret if it’s sold out though, the animals never seem very hungry… When we were there the goats were already full; they sat with their butts towards us and it was hard to get rid of our food.
There was less petting than just viewing, but hygiene-wise this is probably for the best. The kids all crowd around the animals at the gates of course, so we had to be more aware to keep our distance and patient to let others go first since everyone just rushes in front. There were a small group of young sheep, lots of little piglets, sleepy goats, donkeys and chickens. The pigs are the most fun to watch bc they are excitable and move a lot. The donkeys were the most pet-able, but there were signs to not feed them. This is awkward bc people are sure to not see this and give them feed. The sheep seem to be the least interested in interacting with people. All the animals are behind fences, so there’s no free roaming and petting.
I was pleased with the amount of sanitation stations; they had big pumps filled with hand sanitizer next to almost every activity. However, I’d recommend bringing wipes as well, because there comes a point where you want to really wash the grime or food off your hands. The kids are tumbling in the hay and dirt, so wipes or actual washing is the only good way to really get clean. I like to wipe off with regular or alcohol wipes, then use sanitizer. Maybe I’m a bit OCD now, but hey, it’s a pandemic.
MAGIC MAZE (Hay Maze)
Next to the animal area, they have a fun hay stack maze. It’s not that big, but the kids seem to love it and we’re running and jumping around like maniacs. It has a tarp to block out the sunlight, which also gives it a tunnel-like feeling and add their excitement. It feels like being in a fort and maze in one. Watch out, you might be spending more time than you expect in there!
This area is self-explanatory. The pillowy grounds are perfect for jumping around. Anyone with allergies, stand back!
The corn maze is a lovely walk for the whole family. As the weeks have gone by, the stalks are drying and people are creating new paths, making the maze more complex and fun! You really can get fully immersed into the corn. There are no scary surprises, but there is a nice look out point in the center where they’ve built a wooden staircase structure that you can overlook the entire maze and farm area.
There’s a station at the bottom where you can get a potato sack to ride down the three slides. The kids loved the slides, but honestly, it’s a bit too bumpy on the bottom for the adults to want to ride more than once. The metal slides at other past farm festivals I’ve been to are more fun, but you can’t have it all…
I guess I was always a city girl growing up, because before going to Butler’s (this year!) I never saw a real pumpkin patch! You can pick up pumpkins in the festival area, but for the true experience, I recommend you save some time at the end of the day to stop by the patch on your way out. You have to drive down the hill to the farm area. It’s truly magical around sunset and the best time for taking photos. They have wheelbarrows to lug your pumpkins from the patch to where you pay and you pay by the pound.
Now you probably understand why we’ve come three weeks in a row–we had so much fun. The weather right now couldn’t be better!
Where are your favorite farms and fall outings in the DMV?
Would love to hear your experiences and tips!
HANDY ITEMS TO CARRY
- Alcohol wipes
- Regular wipes
- Travel potty
- Water bottle / Thermos
- Picardin mosquito repellent (haven’t had to use this here)
- Freezable lunch bag
- Sweatless Ice pack
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