A fall fun guide

If you’re from a town where apple picking and pumpkin patches remind you of the autumn season, you can still find little remembrances of home at these farms and orchards that are perfect for sunny fall afternoons and chilly evenings.

Pumpkin Patches

Homestead Farm – Poolesville, Md.

Homestead Farm in Poolesville, Md., has been around since 1763, when the Allnutt family began farming there. James Allnutt bought 746 acres near the Potomac, and Homestead Farm now includes 230 acres of the original 1763 purchase.

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Ben and Maureen Allnutt and their sons Ian and Russ live there and continue the tradition.

Before heading out to pick your pumpkins, the farm recommends calling 301-977-3761 to check their supply.

Burke Nursery and Garden Center – Burke, Va.

Burke Nursery and Garden Center will be having their 16th annual pumpkin playground throughout October from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Children can get in for $9 on weekdays and $12 on weekends and enjoy educational and fun activities such as hayrides.

Those who attend the event get a small pumpkin from Burke’s pumpkin patches.

Apple Picking

Butler’s Orchard – Germantown, Md.

Come out to Butler’s Orchard in Germantown to pick apples this October, and if you’re really hungry, blackberries and raspberries will also be available.

Butler’s also has an extensive market and provides milk, chocolate milk, butter, cheese and cream for sale. Also, they recently began offering local free-range chickens raised on whole grains and greens.

For those with a sweet tooth, the orchard sells many different flavors of pies, including more unique varieties such as strawberry-mango.

Hartland Orchard – Markham, Va.

Hartland Orchard is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Head up there to escape the noisy hustle and bustle of the city and breathe in some fresh mountain air.

Henry Green took over Hartland Orchard when his father died and has since raised many animals and crops alongside his six children.

After spending a day picking apples at the orchard, it’s worth exploring more of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Hayrides

Zekiah Farms – Waldorf, Md.

Zekiah Farms is open Saturdays and Sundays in October from 10 a.m. until dusk. In addition to hayrides, corn mazes and a “straw pit” make for an entertaining day for the whole family.

In an effort to share a love for agriculture and the environment, the farm also offers educational programs for children.

Ticonderoga Farms – Chantilly, Va.

Ticonderoga Farms’s Fall Pumpkin Sale is taking place until Nov. 10. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., $8.95 on weekdays and $14.95 on weekends gets you in to the festival celebrating the season.

In addition to hayrides throughout the farm’s 1,000 acres, families can enjoy face painting and karaoke, hillside slides, a petting zoo and a bamboo maze among other activities.

Fall Festivals

Agricultural History Farm Park – Derwood, Md.

The park is a 410-acre complex with a farmhouse, barn and an activity center. Seventy of those acres were set aside as a historic farming area. The park, located along Rock Creek in Derwood, is home to an annual harvest festival (taking place this year on Oct. 2).

For $10 per car, one can enjoy pumpkin painting, chestnut roasting, live music, scarecrow making and other traditional autumn-oriented activities.

Mt. Vernon Fall Harvest Family Days – Mt. Vernon, Va.

With regular admission to the estate, individuals can enjoy free horse-drawn carriage rides, a straw bale maze and can learn 18th century dance steps.

General Washington himself will also be on hand for meet and greets. Fall Harvest Family Days will take place Oct. 23 and 24.

Farmer’s Markets

Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market – 1500 Block of 20th St.

On Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Dupont Circle area, more than 30 farmers offer fruits, vegetables, meats and other delectables at what The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times of London named one of the top farmers’ markets in the country.

The market’s partners include D.C. Central Kitchen, the Dupont Circle Citizens’ Association and Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets.

H St. Market – 625 H St. NE

Until Nov. 20, those who have a craving for fresh produce can venture down to 625 H St. for Dolcezza Gelato and Sorbets, treats from Atwater’s Bakery and meats from Red Apron Butcher Shop.

The nearest Metro stop to the market is Union Station on the Red line.

Halloween celebrations

If you’re past trick-or-treating age, don’t worry. The D.C. area has plenty of fun things to do next month when Halloween rolls around.

Night of 
the Living Zoo

On Friday Oct. 29, from 8 p.m. to midnight, the Friends of the National Zoo will have their adult Halloween bash, “Night of the Living Zoo.” The celebration promises to have all of the typical spooky activities including palm readers, fire-eaters and talking bats. Magic Hat “elixirs” will be available to those interested.

Rolling Stone named Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, the band performing for the evening, one of the best new bands of 2010.

Visitors are invited to arrive in costume. Nightmare 
on M Street The annual wild night will happen 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 30.

The decade-long tradition, nicknamed D.C.’s biggest roaming cocktail party, offers plenty of drink specials and chances to showcase your costume you worked so hard on all year. Many area bars will participate in the event, including BlackFinn, Bread n’ Brew, James Hoban’s, Rumors, The Front Page and more.

Kennedy Center: Spooky Sounds 
and Scary Tales

The annual family event features members of the National Symphony Orchestra dressing up in their Halloween best and performing songs from various children’s shows such as Hedwig’s theme from Harry Potter, and Dukas’s The Sorceror’s Apprentice.

There will also be pre-concert trick-or-treating and a chance for children to get an up-close look at the symphony member’s instruments. After the performance, a kids’ chat with concert artists will be available.

Bennett’s Curse – House of the 
Vampyres

Dubbed the best haunted house in the D.C. and Maryland area, Bennett’s Curse is home to multiple scary parts that all take place inside the fictional “Bennett’s Castle.” Located in Jessup, Md., Bennett’s Curse is a 45-minute ride from downtown D.C. Head out to what was named one of America’s Best Haunts 2010… if you dare.

Markoff’s 
Haunted Forest

Markoff’s Haunted Forest, located in Poolesville, Md., is the perfect place to take a big group of friends for a ghoulish treat. Arrive and get a number to head into the forest. While you wait, try some funnel cake and food from local pizzerias or sit by the giant bonfire in the middle of the creepy set-up. There’s also a fortune teller and a chance to ride a zip line.

Beware: While you wait to go into the forest, ghosts and goblins roam freely, scaring unsuspecting men and women. Once you get into the forest, be prepared for a frightening Halloween adventure. Changing scenes yearly, 2009 showcased a sadistic circus theme, complete with a monkey that banged cymbals for those who dared to walk through his tent.

The forest is not for young children. Each year, there are men with chainsaws and goblins who follow forest adventurers throughout the trails, making for a delightfully scary treat just in time for Halloween. The haunted forest is a fundraiser for Calleva, Inc., whose mission is to get children and adults outdoors to educate them and provide a safe and challenging environment through developing leadership skills.