Growing up in Southern California had its perks. Endlessly stunning sunsets, Christmases on the beach in jeans and a t-shirt, seriously awesome Mexican food. It had its drawbacks, too. For example, until we moved to Maryland over a decade ago, I’d never really ‘experienced’ a full four seasons.

I’ll never forget how completely awe struck I was during our first fall here. The undulating glow of the changing leaves mirrored the sunsets of home, only it went on and on for weeks! Then came the pungently sweet smell of smoke billowing from chimneys, and the festivals. Oh, the festivals! No place does a fall festival like Maryland does, and so many of them are within easy driving distance. (Nothing is in easy driving distance in Southern California, except awesome Mexican food.)

I never mourn the end of summer here because I know fall is coming. Every year we head out to as many pumpkin patches, pick-your-own farms, and festivals as we can pack in. Here are a handful of Maryland fall festivals that are close to home or worth the road trip.

Montpelier Farms

1720 Crain Hwy, Upper Marlboro, MD 2077

Who can resist Lawnmower races? Not me. The checkered flag goes up on On Sept 2oth, with competitors whizzing around the track on their riding mowers in a blur. It’s just one of several events included in their annual fall festival which opens September 6th and runs until November 2nd. Other activities on the farm during the festival include: hayrides, face painting, mazes (corn and hay), movie screenings and even a football lounge so you don’t miss a touchdown (or bad call.)

Dates & Times

September 6th through November 2nd
Fridays (beginning October 3rd) 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Saturdays 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sundays 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Admission
$10 (ages 13 and up); $8 (ages 12 – 3); FREE (2 and under)

Note: Some activities are ticketed at an additional charge

Crumland Farms

7612 Willow Road, Frederick, Maryland 21702

If your kids are bugging you for a goat, this is the festival for you. Crumland features a mini-barnyard full of friendly farm animals to get to know. Looking for a little more “pop” in your adventure? Try launching corn from a cannon! See if you can find a needle jumping into one of their huge haystacks or take a ride on the MooChoo Train. Take home some tasty treats from their farmer’s market.

Dates & Times
September 27th through November 1st
Daily 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Admission
$10 (3 and up); FREE (under 2)

Note: Some activities are ticketed at an additional charge

 Darlington Apple Festival

1024 Main St, Darlington, MD 21034

The feel of this festival is very, Rockwellian. It’s a step back in time to simple pleasures and community spirit, complete with the trappings of the season, pumpkins, mums, crafts, a harvest market and apples – naturally. There is also live entertainment, art, and a veritable  cornucopia of treats.

Dates & Times

October 4th, Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Admission
FREE

South Mountain Creamery

8305 Bolivar Rd, Middletown, MD 21769

If your family (like mine) makes a beeline for the ice cream and cheeses South Mountain Creamery offers at the Farmer’s Market & Bazaar on Sundays, this festival is your chance to go see where that bliss is made. In addition treats you’ve come to love, you’ll find lots to see, do and taste at this interactive farm festival.

Dates & Times

October 18th and 19th
Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Admission
FREE

Carroll County Farm Museum Fall Harvest Days

500 S Center St, Westminster, MD 21157

Make a scarecrow, churn some apple butter, get up close and personal with a tractor (the little ones love this) and have a “down home” day amongst the welcoming folk of Carroll County. This laid back event may have you searching for a place in the country.

Dates & Times
October 18th and 19th
Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Admission
$5 (adults); $4 (18 – 10); FREE (under 10)

Note: Some activities are ticketed at an additional charge

Kasper’s Kastle at Serenity Farm

6932 Serenity Farm Road, Benedict, Maryland 20612

Looking for something on the “All Inclusive” menu? This is what you want. For the price of admission to you’ll get all this…

  • Hayrides
  • Petting Zoo (the only USDA, Walk-In Petting Zoo in all of Southern Maryland!)
  • A Halloween Barn “Kasper’s Kastle” (suitable for youngsters!)
  • A Bag of Candy (from Kasper himself!)
  • Face Painting
  • A Hay Bale Maze
  • A Pumpkin Patch
  • And another Hayride back to the parking area!

What more could you ask for? Oh, maybe the details… huh?

Dates & Times

October Saturdays and Sundays
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Admission
$10 per person ($12 if paying by credit card)

Cockeysville Fall Festival

594 Cranbrook Road, Cockeysville, Md. 21020

All the fun of a fall festival with a good cause behind it, this year’s even is benefits the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore. Come out for live music, games, moon bounces, free balloon animals, an appearance Batman, raffles, and more with a portion of proceeds going toward helping provide a home away from home for seriously ill children and their families.

Dates & Times
October 18th
Saturday 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Admission
FREE