Children of the corn maze

Halloween can be more than candy and costumes

Corn maze
  • Corn maze

The largest corn maze in Southern California is in Temecula. The Big Horse Corn Maze (951-389-4621) covers a whopping 11 acres and takes one to two hours to navigate at an easy pace (45 minutes if you power walk). This year’s design is American in theme: an American flag with an eagle at its center, and the words “Freedom isn’t Free” written across the top and “#ProudAmerican” across the bottom. Monica at the Big Horse feed shop let me know that “‘corn cops’ are stationed throughout the maze who will help you if you get lost, and there are stations within the maze that give you hints on how to get through it.” The maze ($9, kids 3 and under free) and the pumpkin patch are open all week; on the weekends, parking is $5 and “we have hay rides, pony rides, a corn cannon, face painting, and pig races. You can do the maze plus three activities for $15. And there are food vendors.”

The corn maze at Mountain Valley Ranch and Pumpkin Patch in Ramona (760-788-8703) is both closer and smaller: “Two and a half acres,” says Markie Battaglia, whose family owns the place. “The center is well over six feet tall, and the whole thing takes 10–15 minutes to get through. We recommend that little kids go through with adult accompaniment. We make it by planting the corn and then carving out the pattern when it’s a couple of inches tall. Then we let the rest grow.”  The corn maze costs $5; kids under four go free.

The actual corn from the maze gets fired from an air-powered corn cannon. “It’s $1 for two shots. First we stuff in the corn husk to block the air and then the ear,” like an old-time musket. “We also have pony rides and hay rides for $5 each. Pumpkins are sold by the pound ($.47–.60, depending on kind), but the petting zoo is free. We have baby goats, a donkey, and our prize possession, a five-year-old buffalo that we have raised. Parking is free and we’re open until October 31. After that, all pumpkins and corn that haven’t been used or sold get turned into silage to feed our cattle.”

Over at Carlsbad Pumpkin Patch (760-603-9608), “The corn maze is roughly 200 feet by 300 feet and about six to eight feel tall,” says Stan. “If you were a child between 5 and 12, I’d guess it would take you 30 minutes to get through. It’s a three-quarter mile walk. They use a satellite navigation system to cut the pattern, and it’s pretty confusing — there are a lot of dead ends. But we do have markers inside to help you find your way.” Cost is $7 for adults, $5 for children. Besides the maze, the Carlsbad Patch offers hayrides ($6 for 12 and up, $4 for 3 to 11, under 3 free) and pumpkins, starting at three to five pounds and going up to the giant Cinderellas. “On the weekends, there’s an artist here with paints and you can paint a face on your pumpkin. Parking is free, and it’s also free to walk in the patch.”

The Pumpkin Stations at Rancho Bernardo (858-566-7466) and Bonita (619-475-8733) also have corn mazes. “We have about 10,000 people go through every year,” says Norm. “They’re about an acre in size, and it takes about ten minutes. Cost is $2. We also have $2 tractor hay rides, farm animals, and pumpkins. No charge to walk the patch or see the animals.”

Bates Nut Farm Straw Bale Maze

Bates Nut Farm Straw Bale Maze

“We don’t have a corn maze,” said the clerk at Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center (800-642-0348), “but we do have a straw bale maze. It might take a kid 10–15 minutes to get through, and adults can see over the top of it. During the week, we also have pony rides, hay rides, and a petting zoo, $2.50 each. On the weekends, we also have food vendors, a rock climbing wall, a bouncy house, live entertainment, and more.”

Oma’s Pumpkin Patch in Lakeside (619-390-2929) also offers a straw bale maze, plus a cotton seed mountain for kids to climb and slide down, hayrides, a petting corral, and playground equipment. $10 for kids 13 and under gets you access, a pumpkin, and a water bottle. Adult admission is $5, no pumpkin or water bottle included.

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