Open for just one month every autumn, The Pumpkin Ranch in Winterset, Iowa seems more like a scene from a child?s dream than a family-run business. But that?s the way the Handsaker family planned it, hoping to create a family-friendly hub that celebrated their love of all things autumn. Now hey began by cultivating their 9-acre cornfield into a complex maze, incorporating 12 checkpoints that make sure guests are on the right path and offer clues to the ranch?s Farm Scene Investigation mystery. Alongside the maze, the Handsakers have built up a 10-acre patch of pumpkins and gourds, where squashy specimens wait to be carved into jack-o?-lanterns or stomped into wine.
Now celebrating five years, the Handsakers have added even more activities to the The Pumpkin Ranch, including a 30?x40? jump pillow and 30-foot slides. The hayrack ride transports guests to and fro on the ranch, speeding up walks so guests can spend more time reveling in the play zone?s bounce houses, climbable straw bales, and tire towers. There's even a special area for toddlers. For more exhilarating pastimes, the ranch offers exhilarating zipline courses and fire pits to warm up chilly fall afternoons. Inside the concession stand, staffers sell steamy cups of specialty ciders and hot chocolate alongside homemade baked goods, giving guests a taste of fall, and outside, a concession stand serves up larger bites such as grilled and smoked meat to fuel the outdoor fun.
The Pumpkin Ranch is open Fridays?Sundays from September 26?October 26, 2014 and keeps an up-to-date list of the times they'll be offering activities, including horseback riding, face painting, and free professional photography.
Two Saints Winery holds fast to the belief that wine should be representative of its region. That's why to create its award-winning Iowa wines, Two Saints uses only grapes from its own property or grapes grown by local farmers. Embedded within the rippling countryside of rural Warren County, the facility produces up to 30,000 bottles per year. And instead of using juices retrieved from faraway sources, such as California or the mini refrigerators inside seashells, Two Saints spurns flavor enhancements and lets the natural flavors of Iowa's land emerge by aging bottles for at least a year. Customers, meanwhile, can enjoy those products right at the winery, especially during free tastings and live events held frequently on the property. During wine tastings, customers taste and compare eight featured wines that demonstrate the varying levels of body, tannin, sweetness or dryness, and fruity or earthiness possible in a wine.
Pleasantville Golf & Country Club's nine-hole course blankets the Marion County countryside with a circuit of tree-lined fairways. Originally opened in 1965, the course boasts the trademarks of a mature layout, with well-defined greens, tall timbers, and fairways that are starting to show flecks of gray. The semiprivate club also encompasses an outdoor swimming pool and Bogey's, a grill with a full-service bar and a menu of sandwiches, burgers, and other casual eats.:
• For $23, you get one section C ticket (a $47 value). • For $31, you get one section B ticket (a $63 value). • For $36, you get one section A ticket (a $73 value).
• For $43, you get one section A1 ticket (an $87 value).
The course at Rolling Hills leads golfers out into an emerald oasis with well-maintained fairways that rise and fall over frequent elevation changes. Water is a prominent feature that comes into play on six of nine holes, including on the seventh tee, where golfers can reach the green 160 yards away by carrying their golf ball over the water and using their golf bag as a buoy to wade through it.
Along with its regulation-size par 36 course, Rolling Hills invites players to hone their short games on the nine-hole par 3 course, which features lights so play won’t be halted by dusk or hungry owls that mistake golf carts for chubby mice.
Course at a Glance:
* Nine-hole, par 36 course
* Total length of 2,885 yards from the back tees
* Three sets of tees per hole
_Rolling Hills Golf Course's rates fluctuate throughout the week._
In 1989, Ron and Linda Mark planted grapevines along a scenic stretch of Summerset ridge. The vines grew over the years, winding along the terrain overlooking the Middle River. In the summer of 1997, the Marks opened Summerset Winery and began converting the plump grapes into wine.
Today, they produce a wide array of wines, including award-winning varietals such as the bold, full-bodied De Chaunac or the Caba Moch, a sangria-style Ros?. Visitors can tour the vineyard and sip reds and whites at the winery's tasting bar, which hosts live music on Sunday.