Best of the Best
The tradition of pumpkin carving goes back centuries, but today's jack-o'-lanterns may be more creative and whimsical than ever before. See for yourself this Halloween by heading to the best and brightest pumpkin display near you. Your kids (and your inner kid) will thank you.
Croton-on-Hudson, New York: The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze
Where can you find more than 7,000 hand-carved, lighted pumpkins, a Museum of Pumpkin Art, and a 25-foot-tall jack-o'-lantern statue of liberty? You'll see all this and more when you visit historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, just about 50 miles north of New York City. The Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze runs through November; tickets are available online.
flickr.com via SurFeRGIRL30
Dallas, Texas: Autumn at the Arboretum
The Dallas Arboretum hosts its 14th annual fall celebration with a "Peanuts"-themed event, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Visitors can visit a "Great Pumpkin" topiary as well as topiaries of other familiar "Peanuts" characters and admire Pumpkin Village, a collection of houses and creative displays that use more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds, and squash. Buy tickets online through October 31.
flickr.com via TexasEagle
Providence, Rhode Island: Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular
New England has a reputation for the most beautiful autumn colors, so what better place to celebrate fall than the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence? Their Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular features thousands of intricately carved pumpkins, a nighttime zip ride, and live music. The zoo offers a special sensory-friendly visit for people with autism spectrum disorders and their families. Buy tickets online through November 3.
flickr.com via sitmonkeysupreme
Highwood, Illinois: Highwood Pumpkin Fest
You can have a good time—and do good while you're at it—by heading over to the Highwood Pumpkin Fest, which benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The festival has raised $140,000 over the past three years to help grant life-changing wishes to children with critical illnesses. Visitors can bring their own pumpkin to carve, enjoy carnival rides and other amusements, compete in costume contests, and more! The festival takes place from October 11 through 13; tickets are sold at the gate.
flickr.com via Kevin Brown
Kenova, West Virginia: C-K AutumnFest
Get your pumpkin fix with a side of antique charm at the C-K Autumn Fest in Kenova, West Virginia. The Pumpkin House is the center of the festival, decked out in 3,000 luminous hand-carved pumpkins. For thrills and chills, walk the Nightmare at Dreamland Haunted Trail (from October 11 through 26, Fridays and Saturdays only). The official two-day event (October 25 and 26) includes concerts, a bake-off, a canning competition, food vendors, and the Great Scarecrow Hunt.
Keene, New Hampshire: Keene Pumpkin Festival
Journey to the great wall (of pumpkins) at the Keene Pumpkin Festival, a community-hosted, family-friendly event held yearly in downtown Keene. All activities are free—the only requirement is good, old-fashioned fun. This year, the festival will take place on Sunday, October 27.
flickr.com via Troy B. Thompson
Washington, D.C.: Jack's Pumpkin Glow
Get your glow on at Jack's Pumpkin Glow, held at Lake Fairfax Park in Reston, Virginia. Visitors stroll past dramatic, larger-than-life displays that incorporate more than 5,000 carved pumpkins, creating a Halloween wonderland for the whole family to enjoy. Buy tickets online from October 3 through October 27. Similar events are staged in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Nashville.
Clarence, New York: The Great Pumpkin Farm
What would pumpkin celebrations be without pumpkin-themed treats? At the Great Pumpkin Farm in western New York, visitors can sample pumpkin pie, pumpkin donuts, and other treats at the Pumpkin Palace. Farm attractions include carnival rides, pony rides, a pumpkin weigh-off, pumpkin drops, and zillions of pumpkins. This family-run pumpkin farm is open through October 31; tickets are sold at the gate.
flickr.com via gardener41
Bismarck, North Dakota: Papa’s Pumpkin Patch
Papa’s Pumpkin Patch is the place to go if you’re up north and yearning for some autumnal cheer in a natural setting. The patch offers lots of fun activities for kids, including bale mazes, corn cribs (kernel-filled "sandboxes"), and climbing structures. For a fee, try out a pony ride, pedal cars, and other amusements. The patch is open through October 19, but check the website for updates as weather can be tricky at this time of year.
Denver, Colorado: Pumpkin Nights
“Intriguing,” “spectacular,” and “memorable” are some of the words used to describe Pumpkin Nights, a fall festival held in multiple locations, including Denver, Dallas/Fort Worth, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and Santa Rosa, California. Visitors can explore a Forbidden Pumpkin City and other fanciful lands that are constructed from more than 3,000 pumpkins, both real and synthetic.
Old Westbury Gardens, Long Island: The Rise of the Jack O'Lanterns
Get spooked and electrified this Halloween at The Rise in Long Island, an event where visitors walk along pathways lined with 5,000 hand-carved, illuminated pumpkins on the grounds of historic Old Westbury Gardens. If Long Island is too far away for you, The Rise will take place this year at other locations, including Governors Island in New York City, the Meadowlands in New Jersey, and Yorktown, New York; similar events will be held in Los Angeles and Chicago.
flickr.com via Gail Frederick
Half Moon Bay, California: Art & Pumpkin Festival
Revel in blue skies and pumpkins galore at the Pumpkin Festival in Half Moon Bay on October 19 and 20. In addition to gigantic pumpkin displays (that is, displays of gigantic pumpkins!), enjoy a parade, live music, costume contests, a pumpkin weigh-off, and, yes, a pie-eating contest.
flickr.com via FarOutFlora
Freeport, Maine: Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival
This feel-good festival benefits Camp Sunshine, a retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. The festival takes place in two locations (Freeport, Maine, on October 19 and Weston, Massachusetts, on October 12) and raises funds—and spirits—with pumpkin displays, pumpkin carving, face painting, and parades.
flickr.com via Phil Romans
East Hampton, Connecticut: Pumpkintown USA
Do you love Halloween but hate the scare factor? Visit Pumpkintown USA, which welcomes 25,000 visitors during the six weeks it is open each year. The pumpkin-headed citizens of Pumpkintown are the big attraction and a playful alternative to the traditional jack-o'-lantern. It's open through Halloween, weather permitting; tickets are available at the gate. A portion of the proceeds from admissions are donated to The Sandy Peszynski Breast Cancer Foundation.
flickr.com via Bill Herndon
Woodstown, New Jersey: South Jersey Pumpkin Show
Boston, Massachusetts: Frog Pond Pumpkin Float
Pumpkins may be heavy, but they can also float. For something a little bit different this fall, visit the Frog Pond at Boston Common on Friday, October 18, when the pond will be filled with luminous pumpkins. You can bring your own carved pumpkin, but make sure it's hollowed out and eight inches in diameter or smaller—otherwise it won't float!
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee: Dollywood’s Great Pumpkin LumiNights
For over-the-top extravagance, visit Dollywood’s Great Pumpkin LumiNights festival, held through November 2. With thousands of carved, illuminated pumpkins, whimsical scenes, pumpkin-themed food, and interactive entertainments, the LumiNights experience was voted Best Theme Park Halloween Event by USA Today’s 2019 Readers’ Choice Travel Awards.
flickr.com via Jim R Rogers
Stone Mountain, Georgia: Pumpkin Festival
By day, enjoy the many attractions of Stone Mountain Park, all decked out in its fall finery. After the sun goes down, stroll past 40 imaginative, illuminated scenes that bring to life favorite characters from nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and literature. The festival is open Fridays through Sundays until November 3.
flickr.com via G. DAWSON
Apple Valley, Minnesota: The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at the Minnesota Zoo
There’s nothing quite like a zoo after dark—especially if that zoo is illuminated by 5,000 carved pumpkins. At the Minnesota Zoo through November 3, visitors can walk the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular trail, which is lined with glowing pumpkins. There's also musical entertainment, carousel rides, and other seasonal joys to dazzle young and old alike.
flickr.com via David Goehring
Louisville, Kentucky: Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular
If you're around Louisville, Kentucky, from October 8 through November 3, head to Iroquois Park for its Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. In this event that benefits the Louisville Parks Foundation, 5,000 carved pumpkins light up the night in orange glory.
flickr.com via Mr. Blue MauMau
Spokane, Washington: Green Bluff Growers’ Harvest Festival
Every weekend through October 27, families from eastern Washington State and neighboring Idaho head to the annual Harvest Festival, a grand old time hosted by the Green Bluff Growers, an association of 30 or so small family farms and businesses in the area. Aside from the pumpkin patch, the main attractions include an apple orchard, straw maze, and Beck's Harvest House Green Bluff Music Series. For more information, visit their website.
Facebook via Green Bluff Growers
Statesville, North Carolina: Statesville Pumpkin Festival
The first Saturday in November, head 40 miles north of Charlotte to historic downtown Statesville for their annual Pumpkin Festival. The family friendly event features scores of vendors selling arts and crafts, a Classic Car Cruise-In (all vehicles predate 1972), a pumpkin pie eating contest, a beer garden, and everything from pumpkin bowling to pumpkin painting to pumpkin smashing, where contestants young and old use wooden mallets to pound the orange gourds to mush. For details, visit them online.
Facebook via Statesville Pumpkin Fest
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