A fairly new tradition that my mom and I have adopted is going to the annual pumpkin patch at Bates Nut Farm each year. Bates Nut Farm, if you’re not familiar with it, is a 100-acre ranch hidden away within Valley Center, CA.
The farm itself has been around for 90 years, and is open year-round to visitors. They have a farm zoo where you can feed all kinds of animals from goats (my personal fave) to donkeys, geese, pigs, chickens, and more. There are also multiple picnic areas, where you can settle down for a nice lunch.
The farm also has its own retail store, where there’s all sorts of goods ranging from (the obvious) nuts to candy and homemade fudge to home decor to pastas and grains. Last year, when my mom and I went, we didn’t get a chance to make it into the store since we went on a weekend and it was super busy. This year, however, we headed down to Bates on a Thursday and were able to make our way into the store after buying our pumpkins. I loved the murals that the store has painted all over the walls because they really added to the down-home environment the farm has going for it.
We opted to buy some chocolate-covered caramelized sea salt cashews (the most extra candy description ever, I know), and they were amazing. We also picked up some Halloween-themed pasta to use for a Halloween pasta salad, which will be a fun experiment to cook up later.
The pumpkin patch at Bates Nut Farm has been an official event for over 30 years, and is now the “largest, oldest and most famous in San Diego County”, according to the farm’s website. They have pumpkins of all shapes, colors and sizes to choose from spread throughout the designated areas.
The farm’s annual pumpkin patch also has a tractor ride that you can buy tickets to ride on, and they have several other fun events that go on during the weekends for visitors. One of the cuter areas of the pumpkin patch is the place where they display scarecrows made by local families (pictured above).
Going to Bates Nut Farm’s pumpkin patch is definitely the perfect way to get you in the October/Halloween mood, if you aren’t already. We were lucky enough to go there on a slightly cloudy, slightly chilly day (a very brief reprieve during the current October heat wave in Southern California), which only added to the autumnal vibe of the pumpkin patch. Between the fall weather, minimal crowd of visitors, and overall gorgeous scenery, I was in heaven. If you are nearby enough to Valley Center to make your way to Bates, then I highly recommend it because it’s worth it, especially if you’re as into fall activities as I am.