Last year we took a trip to the Great Smokies- first time I’d been there in years! Although the weather wasn’t the best, it was great to be out hiking on a new trail!
While we’ve lived in North Carolina long enough to experience fall, last year we were in the midst of house shopping so our fall pumpkin adventures amounted to a pumpkin “patch” in the Kroger parking lot next to McDonald’s.
This year, a lot more settled and feeling a lot more adventurous, we set out with some friends to Hill Ridge Farms in Youngsville, NC. Aww, a fun, small town farm festival– this will be cute and quaint, I thought. Bwaahhh! Boy was I wrong about the cute and quaint part – I never expected so much to do nor the named-by-me “Corn Spa.”
Before I get to the details, let’s start with the basics:
Fall Harvest & Pumpkin Festival: Now until November 8.
Hours: Daily 9:30 am – 6:30 pm (website says 9:00 am but I wouldn’t chance it)
Cost: $10/person ages 2+
– Each entry includes a free pumpkin with hayride
– Certain things cost extra like the train ride, gemstone panning and the pony ride
So, what was I saying about cute and quaint? Well, as soon as we pulled up my opinion on that quickly changed. We arrived at 10:30 on a Sunday and were greeted by dudes with orange vests and traffic baton thingies waving their hands frantically to follow the rest of the cars through a huge field to park. Crap. Were we going to an NFL football game or a farm?
We parked. Stroller’s out. Kid’s in. Off we go to the line, which is like 30 people deep. Oh boy. Luckily for us, the same people who will whip out a debit card for $.72, we actually brought cash and so we got to hop into the cash line, baby!
Now for the fun stuff…
This place was PACKED with things to do. Hell, *I* was excited and Big Roo certainly was too. First up was the bounce house which looked like a merry-go-round.
For some reason, my pregnant self decided that 11 am was a fine time for some funnel cake so we chowed on that for a bit. And it was delish, even for brunch.
Full and happy (and covered in powdered sugar), we trotted over for some maze action. They have both a wooden maze and a haystack maze… both equally loved by Big Roo.
Next up was a big tunnel, which despite our best efforts, eventually led to us dragging Big Roo out of it so we could move onto other things.
Feeding the animals was a bit of a disappointment. You can’t actually let the animals eat out of your hand. Instead you drop the food down a chute and they eat it whenever they feel like it. Ah well. We still got to see a llama. And I was tempted to yell “Go feed Tina!” to give the people who’ve seen this movie a good chuckle.
Next up, the teepee, which was free to go into. Then, the train, which cost $2.50 a person – nothing special, but Big Roo loved it.
Okay, moving on to what I’ve lovingly dubbed the Corn Spa. It’s officially called the Corn Box and it’s basically a giant “sandbox” full of hard kernels of corn. The kids play with it just like sand but it’s less messy and way more fun. My friend and I had to go with the lil ones since they’re under 4 and as soon as we stepped in, we sank about two feet. We walked through trying to get the kids over to some digging toys and buckets. And that’s when we noticed it. The bottom of our feet kinda tickled as we walked on (and in) the corn. And, as we stepped in corn up to our shins over and over again, it felt really darn good. Like a really good massage. I mean really, from corn? But yes, it was so relaxing. We were so surprised by it we couldn’t stop giggling. See?
Once we got over the spa sensation, I actually snapped some shots of the action. And pondered buying a bucket and filling it with corn kernels for my feet next time I’m stressed out.
Finally, we took the hayride out to the pumpkin patch to pick out our three pumpkins. The patch was really just pumpkins in a field but Big Roo didn’t care. We had a time chasing him through the patch and getting him to actually listen to us though!
Well, there’s your glimpse of what’s in store if you decide to head over to Hill Ridge Farms. Some things we didn’t do/photograph: the giant fort, the 80 foot slide (line was too long), the playground, bunny house and hay jump. So, if you thought all that looked like fun, take note of some tips we learned from our maiden land voyage to Hill Ridge Farms.
- The hayride takes you to pick out your pumpkins so unless you wanna haul you entire family’s pumpkins across the farm, do this LAST. Your biceps (or your husband’s) will thank me.
- Don’t buy the fish food bag at the gate. They have 25 cent machines by the dock and there aren’t enough fish to gorge on that big bag of food. In fact, the fish must have finished binge eating by the time we got there because none of them were even around. Didn’t see one single fish.
- Get in the Corn Box. I’m frickin’ serious. It’s heaven on those tired mama feet. And it’ll make you giggle too.
- Bring cash. The line to get in was about a quarter the length of the line for those paying with a credit card.
For more about Hill Ridge Farms, head over to their website.
So, got an experience to share about Hill Ridge Farms? Post it below!
Okay, so I talk too much to go full-on with Wordless Wednesday. Instead, I’ll give ya “Less Words Wednesday.” Call it a compromise with the blogosphere.
Fall is in full swing. Outside the leaves are changing to fiery reds, rustic oranges and aged yellows. Combine a brilliant blue sky with those changing leaves and it makes me happy to live in the South again.
Hiking. Camping. Kayaking. Rock climbing.
Sounds exciting and adventurous, right? But what about when you have a 2-year-old who thinks the berries on that bush over there look yummy and lacks any fear of heights or strange animals? Yep, I thought so.
Adventure takes on a whole new meaning.
I’m a mama who, before kids, visited the Grand Canyon ten times in two years and even roughed it with no bathroom except for whatever hole I could dig with my fluorescent orange trowel (cue the “ewww” now). That was me before the little one arrived in 2007.
Now, we’ve got a crazy youngster who, by all accounts and purposes, is a mini-Knievel ready to give my hubby and I a collective heart attack by the time we’re 35. Just the thought of taking him on some of our pre-kid hikes scares the daylights out of me.
But I am determined that he (and the baby currently dwelling in my belly) befriend the outdoors at a young age. That they grow up learning how to pitch a tent and catch fireflies. And go white water rafting. And someday, cross the Grand Canyon like we did. But this time, with us, as a family.
And that, my friends, is why I started Adventuroo. I want to create a place where mamas and dadas can come for tips, stories and more of all things related to the kids and outdoors. I live in North Carolina so I’ll even provide reviews of the trails we hike, the parks where we camp, the small towns we experience and wherever else we go. Plus, since this is technically a “mom blog” (although some loathe that term), don’t be surprised if I throw in a random mommy moment here and there.
Thanks for stopping by. Follow me if you’d like (see the options at the right). And let’s see where it takes us.
P.S. Going camping soon? Then visit the “Camping Checklist” tab at the top and download the “Really Useful Camping Checklist.”