For some people, the minute Halloween is over means Christmas — and therefore winter — is here. Cobwebs are swept away, red and white decorations start adorning front lawns and Mariah Carey begins her annual music takeover.
But what about the rest of us who actually enjoy fall? Not just basically-still-summer-in-early-September fall, but deep, almost-Thanksgiving, thick sweaters, still really-into-decorative-gourds fall?
Fear not — especially now that spooky season is over. There are plenty of local orchards and festivals less than an hour’s drive from downtown Baltimore that cater to those who like a little more space between their holidays. Smaller crowds, cheaper tickets and the opportunity to bring pets along are just a few of the perks to waiting to attend post-Halloween ventures.
Put on your coziest sweater, lace up those closed-toe shoes (nature is kinda gross, am I right?) and check out these autumnal activities before the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future come for us all.
Weber’s Cider Mill Farm
If there’s anything I’m a sucker for, it’s an animal exhibition. For that reason alone, Weber’s fits the bill of a perfect weekend activity. For $8 admission, there are numerous things to do, including hay rides, going on slides that require sitting on an empty potato sack, navigating through mini corn mazes and gawking at goats, chickens and rabbits (oh my!).
Make sure you heed the “cider” in the name and check out some of the farm’s offerings, which include apple cider donuts ($6.50 for half a dozen) and what they call an apple cider creamsicle ($6), which is basically a slushie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream inside and whipped cream on top. (It’s worth the brain freeze in already chilly weather.) Their Fall Harvest Days end in early November, but the attached market is open every day with fresh produce and pastries.
Located at 2526 Proctor Lane in Parkville, less than 30 minutes from the Inner Harbor.
Maryland Corn Maze
You know how lots of pools and swimming clubs will save the last day of the season to let dogs enjoy the water? And it’s super, super adorable? (I might be biased here.) The Maryland Corn Maze is basically doing the autumn equivalent of that as it lifts its “no pets” clause for the Nov. 4-5 weekend.
With a $17.95 ticket, participants trying to make their way through the superhero-themed, 8-acre maze are encouraged to bring their canine companions along for the ride. Getting through the field can take up to an hour, though you can always wave a flag to one of the staffers in a tower overlooking the scene if you need some guidance. But having a dog there seems like a pretty smart idea that could potentially cut down on human interference — who better to help you get through a maze than a dog with a nose for adventure?
Located at 389 Gambrills Road in Gambrills, less than 30 minutes from the Inner Harbor.
Another perk of going to a fall activity later in the season? Walk-ins, which are not welcomed in October, are perfectly fine during November at Montpelier’s weekly festival. A general admission ticket ($19) includes hay rides, animals, slides, pumpkin bowling, pedal karts, numerous corn mazes and more. You can purchase other activities ad hoc, or spring for the other price-tier tickets. “Next level” admission also includes rubber duck races, a bag of animal feed and one “super mega” slide ride, while “VIP” admission ($38) has all of the above, plus an apple cider slushie, apple cider donut and numerous extra adventures such as a pumpkin blow-up pad you can jump on and a pumpkin chunkin’ activity. (The “super mega” slide rides are unlimited as a VIP, natch.)
Located at 1720 Crain Highway in Upper Marlboro, approximately 50 minutes from the Inner Harbor.
Beachmont Corn Maze
If nighttime fall fun is more your speed, Beachmont Corn Maze allows the last entry into its eponymous maze at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. for a hayride. This year’s interactive maze is called “Professor Jones and the Museum Heist,” which definitely is an off-brand Indiana Jones theme. For a $16 entrance fee, you can make your way through 2-plus miles of themed pathways across 6 acres, as well as check out an inflatable obstacle course, play skee ball or corn hole, enjoy a bonfire and a host of other activities.
Located at 6433 Mount Vista Road in Kingsville, less than 40 minutes from the Inner Harbor.
Clark’s Elioak Farm
If your delight with pumpkins doesn’t end the minute Oct. 31 is over, then Clark’s Elioak Farm is for you. Yes, they have a pumpkin patch, but perhaps more importantly, you can send said pumpkins sailing across the farm with a giant catapult during pumpkin chucking weekend, which is Nov. 4 and 5. You can either buy one there to let it fly, or bring one in from home. (I guess this answers the age-old question of the best way to get rid of your seasonal gourds without just tossing them in the trash. If only getting rid of all our food waste was this fun.)
If you want to do more, well, “normal” activities, an $11 ticket will also get you plenty of family-friendly activities including a hayride to said patch, slides, mazes made of hay bales and an enchanted forest.
Primarily known as a petting farm, there are also plenty of animals to visit. You know where I’ll be.
Located at 10500 Clarksville Pike in Ellicott City, less than 30 minutes from the Inner Harbor.
Rock Hill Orchard
Are you more of a fall purist? No slides or face painting needed to make you happy? Rock Hill Orchard gets right to the point: Go pick some apples. Tickets are priced by the amount of the fruit you plan to take home; the most expensive option ($28.50) is a one peck bag, which is about 10 to 12 pounds. Some tickets also include a corn maze option, complete with wagon ride. And if Johnny Appleseed-ing isn’t your thing, access to the maze on its own is $10.
But let’s be real: The fruit picking is the star of the show here.
Located at 28600 Ridge Road in Mount Airy, less than 45 minutes from the Inner Harbor.