The most gourd-eous season of the year is finally here. October arrived blowing in autumn’s much-anticipated cooler breezes, pumpkins are popping up on front porches and in coffee shops, and surrounding farms are ripe with fall fun and festivities. This year, as many families are juggling the challenges of working and schooling from home, the annual pilgrimage to a pumpkin patch has never seemed more appealing. Carve out some time between Zoom meetings to breathe in some fresh autumn air on ample acreage, pose the kids in a pretty pumpkin patch and harvest fall-themed family memories. Here are seven nearby pumpkin patches worth a visit — and they’re all within an hour or so of Austin.


MANOR: Crowe’s Nest Farm (20 miles)


Just east of Austin, Crowe’s Nest Farm is a 100-acre nonprofit working farm brimming with farm animals ranging from bison to llamas, educational exhibits, organic gardens and plenty of pumpkins this time of year. During Fall Family Fun Days, every weekend this month families can make a trip to this pumpkin patch while soaking in fall fun in the form of cow milking demonstrations, animal and wildlife shows, hayrides, homemade food and crafts. Proceeds from your visit will go toward the farm’s educational and sanctuary efforts and COVID-19 disaster relief, which helps keep more than 250 animals fed and healthy during this unprecedented time when the farm has been impacted without its main revenue source — school field trips. More at crowesnestfarm.org.


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Hours and pricing: The farm is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. now through Dec. 12. Fall Family Fun Days take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through Nov. 1. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for kids 3-12, $4 for 2-year-olds and free for children under 2.


Know before you go: Crowe’s Nest Farm is taking precautions during the pandemic with extra cleaning, encouraging social distancing and asking guests to wear masks inside the barns and on hayrides. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase, but picnics are encouraged.


LEANDER: Texas Pumpkin Fest (25 miles)


A yearly tradition for families seeking a kid-friendly fall festival, Texas Pumpkin Fest’s 30th annual pumpkin patch takes place seven days a week now through the end of October. At this fall-inspired festival, kids can run wild exploring 5 acres of pumpkins and gourds, enjoy kiddie tractor and pony rides, get lost in a maze, snap festive selfies and more. This year, Texas Pumpkin Fest has partnered with Texas Humane Heroes, a no-kill nonprofit that rescues dogs and cats from overcrowded shelters, to drive awareness and donations while providing festivalgoers with a larger venue for families to have fun. More at texaspumpkinfest.com.


Hours and pricing: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. now through Oct. 31. Admission is $5 per person on weekdays (free for 2 and under) and $10 per person or $5 for 12 and under on weekends.


Know before you go: Visit on a weekday to avoid weekend crowds and save on admission. Masks are encouraged but not required.


ELGIN: Evergreen Farms (26 miles)


Tucked off of Monkey Road in Elgin, Evergreen Farms’ Pumpkin Hunt brims with family-friendly fun — and the best part is that admission and parking are always free so you only pay for the activities you choose to do. Ride into fall on a tractor-pulled wagon winding through the Christmas tree fields to "hunt" for mini pumpkins hidden in the trees (one ticket gets you two mini pumpkins). Purchase $3 tickets in the gift shop to use for this year’s limited roster of activities including the pumpkin launcher, train, bounce ponies, duck pond, kid’s zip line, mazes and more. Don’t forget to pose for photo ops in front of the pumpkins or fire truck. More at evergreen-farms.com.


Hours and pricing: Open Monday-Friday (noon to 5 p.m.), Saturday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday (1-5 p.m.) through Nov. 1. Admission and parking are free, but activities require a $3 ticket.


Know before you go: Evergreen Farms has a pandemic plan in place and social distancing will be enforced in the gift shop, where masks are required, and on the wagon and train rides.


ELGIN: Elgin Christmas Tree Farm (28 miles)


Fall fun flourishes at Elgin Christmas Tree Farm, where the goal is to give friends, families and dogs on a leash a safe and enjoyable place to be outside. Available activities include mazes, hayrides, duck races, train rides, farm animals and pumpkins perfect for posing, but due to the pandemic, the pumpkin festivals and pumpkin decorating will not take place this year. Guests are welcome to bring their own food (pro tip: pick up Elgin’s famous barbecue) for a socially distanced picnic on the farm. More at elginchristmastreefarm.com.


Hours and pricing: Open daily through Nov. 1. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. All activities are included with a $7 daily admission.


Know before you go: Masks are required on rides and indoors. Plenty of pumpkins are on the farm for fall atmosphere and picture taking; however, due to the pandemic, there are limited pumpkins for sale.


BASTROP: Barton Hill Farms (30 miles)


This weekend marks the beginning of a favorite fall festival unfolding on the 20-plus acres fringing the banks of the Colorado River at Barton Hill Farms. General admission comes with a slew of activities including the 3.5-acre corn maze, pumpkin patch, jumbo jumping pillows, Barnyard Ball Zone, rock and rope climbing walls, hayrides, super slides, farm animals, duck races and more. Face painting, fishing, pumpkins and apple cannons are available for an additional cost. Refuel on-site with chicken tenders, friends and funnel cakes at Friar’s or burgers and pulled pork sandwiches at the Smokehouse & Grill while washing it down with lemonade, cold beer and frozen sangria. More at bartonhillfarms.com.


Hours and pricing: Weekends through Nov. 15. General admission is $16.95 on Fridays (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and $19.95 on Saturdays (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Sundays and Columbus Day (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Free for kids 2 and under.


Know before you go: This year’s Fall Festival is implementing pandemic-related safety precautions including contactless, cashless payments, capacity limits, vigorous cleaning and mask-wearing when social distancing isn’t possible. All ticket sales are by online reservation only — no tickets will be sold on-site.


MARBLE FALLS: Sweet Berry Farm (52 miles)


Unfolding on 60 beautiful acres, Sweet Berry Farm transforms into a pumpkin playground each year during its Harvest of Fall Fun. We love this family-run farm and pumpkin patch, a scenic hourlong drive from Austin, because admission and parking are free and you only pay for what you want to do. Everyone in the family can have their pick, from hayrides weaving through Scarecrow Island, running through a Texas-shaped maze, riding ponies, painting pumpkins, bouncing on the barrel train or Berry Bounce, and cutting colorful zinnias from the flower field. Snap family photos among thousands of pumpkins and gourds and sweeten your visit with homemade, farm-crafted ice cream and ice pops. More at sweetberryfarm.com.


Hours and pricing: Now through Nov. 8. Open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed every Wednesday. Free admission and parking. Activities are individually priced.


Know before you go: Masks are not required but are strongly recommended, and social distancing is encouraged. One family member only in checkout lines, where a mask is required. Avoid weekend crowds by visiting on a Monday or Tuesday, which are typically the least-attended days.


TEMPLE: The Robinson Family Farm (73 miles)


Brimming with fall fun for the whole family, general admission to the Robinson Family Farm includes access to more than 20 activities and attractions including the pumpkin patch, sunflower field, live music, hayrides, farm animals, barrel train, corn maze, bounce pad, playground, corn cannons and sand art. For a fall fright, brave the farm’s haunted corn maze on Halloween from 8 p.m. to midnight — limited tickets are available online only. More at therobinsonfamilyfarm.com.


Hours and pricing: Open weekends and Columbus Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Nov. 1. Purchase tickets online for $9.95 or at the gate for $12.95 (2 and under free).


Know before you go: Sanitation stations are located at high-use areas, and masks are recommended on hayrides and where social distancing isn’t feasible. Sundays tend to be less crowded than Saturdays.