While the rest of the natural world prepares to hibernate for the winter, Enchanted Country Trees & Pumpkins has been at its most active since 1983. Farmers pick the plumpest pumpkins from their patches, displaying them next to bounce houses and trundling John Deere tractors. Barnyard animals deign to be petted in exchange for palmfuls of feed, and ponies accept small riders for afternoon trots. Come winter, the lots fill with Christmas trees.
At The Pumpkin Factory, festive gourds bring an orange glow to the atmosphere, setting the scene for an exciting fall carnival. At three locations, kids leap into the air in inflatable bounce houses, converse with the goats at the petting zoo, and trot around on gentle ponies. In Corona, a special EuroBobble attraction lets guests play buoy, rolling atop a pool in a clear, inflatable bubble. At the Westminster Pumpkin Factory, helicopters take flight for scenic tours of the fairgrounds. At the end of the day, families can take home a pumpkin of their own to create a gruesome jack 'o' lantern doppelganger of their neighbor.
Ziddle and Zaddle the zebras, a alpaca named Cletus, and Bengal tigers that eat from a zookeeper's hand all sound like characters from a charming children's book?but these animals are the real-life residents of the Rancho Las Lomas Wildlife Foundation. Home to animals from around the world and myriad plant species, the zoo serves as a educational resource for locals and educational establishments. Visitors can take behind-the-scenes tours or explore the grounds for themselves, chatting with macaws, watching the caracals play, and staring at white Bengal tigers until they can see the 3D picture in their stripes.
Montebello Barnyard Zoo's animals are like rock stars, touring local homes and meeting places for one-on-one encounters and shows. Pony rides headline this traveling attraction, which also incorporates a petting zoo with various farm animals: goats, sheep, chickens, and even a llama.
The animals still spend the most time at their home venue, however. Here, fenced off areas contain larger animals such as cows and zebras, who always show up to work wearing the same black-and-white outfits. Bales of hay, wooden barrels, and a large, red barn create a rustic setting for picnics and birthday parties. Nearby, a merry-go-round spins endlessly and a truck?decorated to resemble a locomotive?pulls train cars on a tour of the grounds.
A nonprofit organization, Shoestring City Ranch is run by instructors that dedicate their time to teach teamwork and leadership skills to city-slicker kids by having them work with rescued animals. The environmentally friendly ranch hosts clinics on communicating with pets and group horseback-riding classes that teach everyone from tots to adults how to groom and ride. They also host fun events in addition to classes, such as the 5K Gallop and 1-Mile Tot Trot and a Roping Clinic 101, where a professional rodeo cowboy teaches students how to use a lasso.
Under strings of lanterns and the night's canopy of stars, kids scamper through a field filled with thousands of pumpkins, each one searching for the biggest, roundest one. Finding it is one thing; lifting it is another. The bountiful Pumpkin City's Pumpkin Farm began a bit by happenstance?the owners originally began selling pumpkins out of the back of their pickup and steadily added on amusements as more people came each year. More than 30 years later, the one-month harvest festival sets up each October with attractions ranging from pony rides to puppet shows. As they explore the area amid bales of hay, teepees, character cutouts, and other props, kids can feed baby goats and sheep at the petting zoo or sit on an authentic tractor from 1932. Once guests have procured the perfect pumpkin to carve into the likeness of their favorite monster, they can get their picture taken with Pumpkin Jack, hop on rides such as the Goliath Slide or Pumpkin City Express Train, or visit Gone Fishing, Knock 'Em Down, and other game booths.