From Our Editors
Open for just six weeks per year, 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. They 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’x70’ jump pad and zip lines for children. 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 and climbable straw bales. 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 22–October 29, 2017 and keeps an up-to-date list of the times they'll be offering activities, including horse rides, live music, and kids arts and crafts.