Pumpkin patches! Haunted houses! 10 fall things to do with kids in Austin
With kids back in school and temperatures, we hope, leaving the 100s and 90s for the year soon, we're looking ahead to fall happenings and some Halloween events coming up.
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Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Falls
The pumpkin patch, corn mazes and fall activities center in Marble Falls comes alive in fall, just as it does in spring for strawberry picking.
Hours: Sweet Berry Farm is open now through the first weekend in November. The hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. It's closed on Wednesday. Weekends are very busy and it's less busy earlier in October. If you can delay your visit, the farm advises, "The first weekend in November is like having the farm to yourself."
Cost: There is no entrance fee, but each activity is a separate cost per person. For example: $4 hayride, $3.25 Candy Corn Kid Maze, $3.25 Barnyard Maze; $8 Texas-shaped Maze, $5.25 pumpkin painting, $17.99 per scarecrow scarecrow stuffing, $3.25 sand art, $3.75 train, $2.75 Berry Bounce, and $5 pony rides.
You also can buy pumpkins for $0.49 a pound. Expect to pay $3-$12 for a pumpkin.
Where: Sweet Berry Farm is at 1801 FM 1980 in Marble Falls. Don't use your GPS or map app to guide you unless you want to get lost. Go to sweetberryfarm.com/directions to find directions.
Health protocols: Face coverings are optional here. As the website says, "Undoubtedly there will be times when customers with or without masks are in proximity with others, please be aware of your surroundings." (sweetberryfarm.com)
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Barton Hill Farms near Bastrop
The farm near Bastrop includes a corn maze, hay ride, archery, farm maze, tree fort and more activities as part of its admission fee. Face painting, and buying food, pumpkins and flowers are separate fees.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Columbus Day, now through Nov. 7.
Cost: Tickets are $21.95 and can be reserved online. The farm does not accept cash.
Where: 1115 FM 969 in Bastrop (bartonhillfarms.com).
Health protocols: All guests are required to wear face coverings when they are unable to social distance. Tickets are timed and the farm has capacity limits. Everyone age 3 and older needs a ticket.
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Pumpkin Nights at Pioneer Farms
See more than 5,000 real and artificial pumpkins turned into magical scenes, including an ocean reef, a Chinese forbidden city, a village and a pirate's cove. Watch live pumpkin carvings and fire dancers.
Hours: 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 30-Oct. 31.
Cost: $18-$23 adults, $14-$16 children ages 4-12.
Where: 10621 Pioneer Farms Drive (pumpkinnights.com/austin).
Health protocols: Reservations are required for social distancing and face coverings are encouraged. Hand sanitizing stations throughout.
Elgin Christmas Tree Farm
The tree farm transforms into fall fun with mazes, rubber duck races, train and hay rides. No special COVID-19 safety measures are noted, but masks were required in 2020.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday from Oct. 2-31.
Cost: $10 admission for anyone ages 2 older.
Where: 120 Natures Way in Elgin (elginchristmastreefarm.com).
Evergreen Farms in Elgin
The pumpkin hut returns with a train ride, a pumpkin launcher, a spinner, a kid zip line and mazes. Visitors can take a wagon ride to hunt for mini pumpkins hidden in the tree fields.
Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday from Oct. 2-31.
Cost: Each activity is a $3 per person.
Where: 242 Monkey Road in Elgin (evergreen-farms.com).
Health protocols: The farm asks people to wear masks and social distance. Hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the farm.
Austin Symphony Orchestra Halloween Concert
Wear your costume and hear Halloween-themed music from the symphony.
When: 3 p.m. Oct. 24.
Where: Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive (austinsymphony.org).
Health protocols: All audience members 12 and older must show either a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the concert or a card proving full vaccination. Masks must be worn.
Mexic-Arte Museum Viva La Vida
Celebrate Dia de los Muertos with this festival and parade from noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 30. The parade starts at noon and travels down East Sixth Street from Red River Street to Congress Avenue. The festival is centered on the Mexic-Arte Museum at East Fourth Street and Congress Avenue.
Similar street festivals have been canceled because of local COVID-19 rates. Check the website closer to the event for details and COVID-19 protocols: mexic-artemuseum.org/viva-la-vida-fest.
Bullock Museum Spooktacular
The Texas history museum teams up with Girlstart for this free celebration. Wear a costume and explore science by learning about blood, physics, acids and bases, holograms, robots and more, all in a spooky theme. Visitors also can tour the museum.
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 29.
Where: 1800 Congress Ave. (thestoryoftexas.com).
Health protocols: The Bullock Museum follows current CDC guidelines around mask wearing and social distancing. Hand sanitizing stations are found throughout and some exhibits' interactive elements have been deactivated or removed.
Boo Bash on the Lawn at Hill Country Galleria
Head to the Hill Country Galleria's Central Plaza Lawn with your costume on and get Halloween treat bags as well as hear music from Joe McDermott. Bring the dog and enter a doggy costume contest.
When: Noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 30.
Where: 12700 Hill Country Blvd. in Bee Cave (hillcountrygalleria.com/event/Boo-Bash-on-the-Lawn).
Health protocols: Increased cleaning and sanitation protocols are in place. Masks, social distancing and handwashing are encouraged.
House of Torment in Austin
This one is for the teens and very grownup kids. This year's lineup includes the Boogeyman in a household setting, the Forsaken prison of the damned and Operation: Laughing Place, which involves hallucinated clowns. You can also learn how to throw axes and play mini escape games.
Hours: House of Torment is open evenings at various times and dates through Nov. 13.
Cost: Tickets are $19.99, but you can add fast pass and skip the line for additional price.
Where: 2632 Ridgepoint Drive (houseoftorment.com).
Health protocols: The haunted houses return with new COVID-19 guidelines. Everyone has to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of attending or a vaccine card that shows full vaccination. Organizers are also asking for mask wearing when you cannot maintain social distance.
Fall event safety
This year, many events have COVID-19 protocols, which we've noted so you know what to expect for events recommended here. With the delta variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, wear a mask indoors. People who are unvaccinated, immunocompromised, at risk for severe disease or have someone in their household who is unvaccinated, immunocompromised or at risk for severe disease are encouraged to wear masks in public spaces.