Pittsburgh area pumpkin patches & fall festivals

Fall is in the air!

It’s that time of year again! Pumpkin spice lattes and corn mazes galore. The Pittsburgh area offers a variety of options for pumpkins, hay rides, corn mazes and all-around family fun. Please enjoy the list below of our area attractions.

Cheeseman Farms hayrideCheeseman Farm
Located about 45 minutes north in Portersville, Cheeseman offers hayrides to the pumpkin patch, farm animals to pet, a hay maze, and haunted hayrides to the Fright Farm. Known for being a ‘scary’ option, it’s be great for older kids/teens. Cheeseman Pumpkin Festival activities are weekends only, while the Cheeseman Fright Farm is open Saturdays & Sundays, plus select Thursdays and Fridays. Admission is free. Activities priced separately.

Harvest Valley Farms
Harvest Valley is a smaller, family-run farm in Gibsonia. They offer scenic hayrides to the pumpkin patch, a cornstalk maze, farm animals and concessions. Weekends in October, the Harvest Valley Farms Fall Festival offers pumpkin bowling, pumpkin carving and live country music. Admission is free. Activities priced separately.

Hozak Farms
Hozak Farms is actually a family run Christmas Tree Farm that also sets up shop for fall with a Pumpkin Patch. Hozak is located in Clinton, PA, near the Pittsburgh airport. The Hozak Farms Fall Festival offers scenic hayrides, pumpkin picking, pumpkin painting, pony rides, face painting, musical entertainment and refreshments on weekends in October. Admission is free. Activities priced separately.

Iron Mills Farmstead MazeIron Mill Farmstead
Iron Mill is located in New Wilmington (about an hour north of Pittsburgh) and is known for having an amazing corn maze each year (this year’s theme is “Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”). In addition to the maze, they offer activities including pumpkin bowling, a giant bounce pillow, pig races, apple slingshots and more. Day passes (which includes most activities and the maze) are $12.95

Janoski’s Farm & Greenhouse
Janoski’s is a greenhouse, farm market and bakery open year-round and is also located in Clinton, near the airport. Every fall, they add Janoski’s Pumpkinland on October weekends, with hayrides to the pumpkin patch, pick your own pumpkins, a corn maze, pumpkin painting, fall concessions and a petting zoo. Admission $6 per person

Renshaw FarmsRenshaw Farms
Renshaw Farms is another smaller, family-run farm, located north east of the city off Route 28, in Freeport, PA. Their Pumpkinfest offers a corn beach, corn maze, animal farm and hayrides to the pumpkin patch. The corn cannon is especially entertaining. Admission is $7/person

Shenot Farm
Shenot is another family-run farm in Wexford. Shenot has over 100 acres dedicated solely to fruits and vegetables. In the fall they also offer free hayrides to the pumpkin patch to pick out your pumpkins. They also offer a Haunted Expedition after dark on the weekends. Admission is free. Activities priced separately.

Schramm Farms
Beginning the last week of September and running through the month of October, they hold Schramm Farms Fall Fest activities include play hay, a cornstalk maze, cornstalk tunnel, pony rides, hay rides and fall food and refreshments. Schramms is located in Harrison City, about 40 minutes east of Pittsburgh. Admission is free, activities priced separately.

Simmons Farm slideSimmons Farm
Located in the south hills, in McMurray, Simmons Farm offers hayrides to the pumpkin patch where you can pick your own pumpkins or try out the 2 or 4 acre corn mazes. They also have a petting zoo and pick your own apples. Fall Weekends at Simmons Farm include food, rubber duck races, balloons, fiddle music, pony rides, pumpkin carving, apple sling shot and more. Wristband price $11.50-14.50

Soergel Orchards
Soergel Farms in Wexford is one of the biggest fall festivals around. Soergel’s hosts Fall Festival Weekends including apples festivals and pumpkin festivals. Other festival weekend activities include hay rides, pony rides, horse-drawn wagon rides, face painting, corn stalk maze, straw tunnel, pick-your-own pumpkins, balloon chase, the duck pond, and lots of great food and fun! Admission is free, activities priced separately.

Springhouse Farms
Springhouse Farms is located south of Pittsburgh, in Eighty Four, PA . They offer tractor rides to the pumpkin patch during their Great Pumpkin Festival every weekend. Guests at the festival will enjoy hay bale climbing, pipe slides, corn maze, pumpkin bowling and more. Price for the festival is $8-10/person

Trax Farms
Located about a half an hour south of Pittsburgh, Trax Farms is also one of the bigger festivals in the region. On the weekends, the Trax Farms Fall Harvest Festival offers scenic hayrides, food booths, pony rides, a cornfield maze, and kids activities. Admission is free. Activities priced separately

Triple B FarmsTriple B Farms
Triple B Farms is also located about a half an hour south of Pittsburgh. The Triple B Fall Pumpkin Festival, includes a fun Storybook Pumpkinland, hay rides, a romping rope maize, and the Big Blue Boo Barn. Wristbands are $13 adults/$8 children


Map of Festivals

View Pittsburgh Area Pumpkin Farms and Fall Festivals in a full screen map

Review – GoApe ropes course


The day my son Matthew turned 10 he started begging me to take him to the GoApe ropes course in North Park. I have been promising him a trip there for nearly a year now. Life just kept getting in the way and I kept forgetting about it when we actually had time to do it (not to mention I may have been a wee bit scared).

Then a few weeks ago I got an email from them asking if I’d like to try the course out, along with a guest, and write a review of it. My son will be turning 11 next week so I figured it must be meant to be. I accepted with pleasure and scheduled a time for us to go visit.

The look of pure excitement on his face matched my anxiety when I announced that we’d be going last Sunday. I’m not typically scared of heights, unless there’s the opportunity for me to hurt myself by being clumsy. Skydiving didn’t scare me. But hiking near a steep ledge terrifies me. It’s all about the likelihood of my clumsiness coming into play and causing death and/or dismemberment. While I knew we’d be locked in (yay!) I also had read that you had to personally clip and unclip yourself (boo!) unlike the other zip line courses we’ve done before. We’d be up there alone, with nobody to check my work.

13233054_975258658376_5840212262918035624_nWe arrived at GoApe and were greeted with a bit of paperwork and a wonderful safety demonstration. I liked that they not only explained the procedures but then had everyone go through the process on a trial course at ground level before “passing” on to another practice course about 10 feet up. It was just high enough to be real but not high enough for any serious injury to occur. I felt much more confident in both myself and Matthew after the lecture plus two practices. After completing the second practice, we were left to our own devices to complete the course at our own pace (which was a really nice feature). I didn’t catch her name, but the staff member that gave us the safety briefing stayed with my son and I (at the bottom, watching and coaching us) through the first section, just to make me feel more comfortable and give us some pointers on how to do the course the best. I was so very thankful for her. In fact, the entire staff was wonderful.

13260027_975258608476_7169255268646152986_nI’ll start by saying that we both had SO MUCH FUN. It was a great day for us together and it’s a memory I’ll always remember. We had lots of time to chat and encourage each other. I’m lucky that he’s a very responsible kid and always waited for me to check his clips before progressing. We took a couple of “hard” paths and a couple of “easy” paths and both left with some sore muscles and a lot of calories burned.

The course consisted of five sections, each beginning with a ladder climb up a tree (not too difficult for this old lady) and ending with a zip line (our favorite part). The five sections all had different obstacles to overcome and a few had choices whether to take a harder path or an easier one. I have to say I was quite thankful for that option after watching the group in front of us (all strapping young men in their 20s) struggle with the “extreme” option.

13254398_975258648396_6920824884904080234_nFrom start to finish the course took us about 2.5 hours (including the safety lessons). I wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate for kids but I can say that my almost-11-year-old did wonderfully and enjoyed it immensely. I never felt unsafe or unsure of my decision to bring him. I might think differently of my younger son who is much more of a daredevil and would probably not wait for me to check his clips before speeding down the zipline. It was a perfect early birthday present to him (and to me, to be able to spend that kind of uninterrupted time together is precious).

While most of the participants that day were young, I’d definitely recommend it for people of all ages. As long as you can comfortably climb a ladder up a 30-foot tree and aren’t too afraid to repel back down it, then it’s well worth the $49 cost of admission ($29 for kids aged 10-15).





*Author’s Note: GoApe offered the ropes experience to myself and a guest at no charge. In exchange I offered to write a review of my experience. This review reflects the honest opinion of our experience.

Biking the Burgh – Our 5 Favorite Trails

We are an outdoor family. We love to be outside on any nice day we can get (and living in the Northeast, we count our blessings whenever we get a perfect day). We enjoying running, hiking and biking with the kids.
We’ve tried out many of the bike trails around town and these are a few of our favorites. But we are always looking for new suggestions. What else would you add to the list?

SouthSide1. Three Rivers Heritage Trail (South Side to the Waterfront)
We love this trail for several reasons. We typically park in the South Side near Station Square (there is a lot near 4th street (across the railroad tracks) and then either ride to the South Side Works if we just want a short ride (which is a mile or two) or all the way out to the Waterfront if we want a longer ride (which is about 5-6 miles one way). There are great options in the South Side Works for lunch, dinner or ice cream. The trail is flat and the views are gorgeous. And and added bonus is viewing of the Hays Bald Eagles. http://friendsoftheriverfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014-Map-and-Guide.pdf

2. North Park
(Lake Loop or Pie Traynor Loop)
North Park has been a personal and family favorite for the 20 years I’ve lived in Pittsburgh. I used to take long walks around the loop with friends long before I ever met my husband and now we do it together as a family. The five mile loop is a bit long for a walk with the kids, so we bring our bikes. If you have younger kids, the Pie Traynor loop is a great option for a family bike ride. It’s relatively traffic free and the hills are manageable for the kiddos. There’s also a fun BMX course in the woods and it’s fun to watch the riders. If your kids are a bit older and you trust them around some traffic, the five-mile loop is great. Our added bonus is the Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe at the Boathouse and the kids enjoy the ice cream shop just outside the park. If we have some extra time we also love renting Kayaks from Kayak Pittsburgh and going out on the lake for an hour.


3. North Shore Riverfront Trail (Millvale to the City)
NorthShoreAlso part of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, the North Shore Riverfront Trail is the name given to the stretch that follows the path across the Allegheny River between PNC Park and the Carnegie Science Center. We love to park our car at the Millvale Riverfront Park (plenty of free parking) and ride into the city at least as far as PNC and sometimes all the way across the bridge over to the Point. The trail is pretty flat and offers breathtaking views of the city as you round the bend. The distance from Millvale to PNC is less than three miles and easy enough even for scooters and training wheels. An added bonus to this trail is the ability to cool off in the water steps before heading back. We also LOVE the nachos at Bettis grill to refuel for the grueling trip 😉

Butler Freeport4. Butler Freeport Trail
The Butler Freeport Trail is a 20-mile trail which runs from Laneville to Butler. Like many area trails, it’s a converted rail-trail and offered a soft surface in a quiet, picturesque setting along the forest of the Buffalo Creek Gorge. The trail runs mostly a very gentle slope downhill from Butler to Freeport so depending on how far you ride and in which direction, your trip will be mostly flat with just the tiniest bit of a hill. We usually park off Exit 17 of Route 28 (near the South Pike Cinemas) and ride the trail a few miles uphill (North) and then turn around so the downhill portion is saved for last 🙂 Bonus on this trail is just the sheer nature. No traffic at all and the ability to go see a movie when we’re finished. If you like the trail. If you like this trail, they do a wonderful half marathon each fall on the trail starting up north and running all 13.1 miles straight downhill. It’s one of my favorite runs of the year. It’s just so peaceful and the time of year couldn’t be more perfect with the changing leaves. I’d highly recommend it!

5. Montour Trail
The Montour Trail is admittedly the trail I have the least amount of knowledge and experience with, since it’s on the opposite side of the city from us, but thought it deserved mentioning here because it is another perfect family bike riding trail. Similarly to the Butler Freeport trail, the Montour Trail is a converted rail-trail and offers picturesque, flat riding with multiple options for start and stopping points. We typically just park at the beginning (Moon Township/Coraopolis) and then ride as far as we have energy for until turning around. Bonus for us on this trail is the options for parks and dining out by Robinson Township since that is not our usual part of town.

BONUS: South Park BMX Track BMX
This isn’t really a “trail” but last summer we took our boys to the BMX track at South Park one afternoon and they had an absolute blast. It took them a few times around to really get comfortable and not be too afraid of crashing, but once they were, they were captivated for ages. I think this might appeal to a slightly older age kid (and a few husbands, as well, including mine) but even the younger ones could ride on some of the easier parts. Bonus is mini golf at Cool Springs nearby, one of our favorite mini golf places in the city and dinner at Doridos, right outside the park.

Where else would you recommend? We need some new places to try for this summer.

Groupon/coupon summer family roundup

I spend a good day at the end of each school year scouring the interwebs for good coupons on family-friendly places to take the boys while they are out of school. There are so many great things to do that the whole family can enjoy, but I don’t enjoy breaking the bank. There are some great ways to do things on the cheap including buying “groupons”. In addition to these prices, if you sign up for email alerts (especially to Groupon), you’ll get discount codes for addition percentage off.

I thought I’d share some of my finds with you.


Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 11.47.11 AMPittsburgh Pirates Game $16 – Expires June 16

Twin Hi-Way Drive-In $13 (2 tickets) or $24 (4 tickets). Includes drinks and popcorn. Expires July 3

Flight Trampoline Park $18 for one hour jump for two people Mon-Thurs. Expires 90 days after purchase

Gateway Clipper Cruises $12 for one-hour sightseeing cruise or Good Ship Lollipop cruise. Expires October 25.

The Climbing Wall $25 (5-day pass), $29 (1-month pass), $75 (3-month pass). Expires 180 days after purchase

Snapology $49 (Lego Camps) or $9 (Parents’ Night Out). Expires August 22

Fun Fore All $14 (one 2-hour fun pass), $56 (4 2-hour fun passes). Expires August 25

SteelTown Paintball Park $35 (Paintball outing for 2), $69 (for four people), $119 (for 8 people). Expires 180 days after purchase

PNC Carousel $29 for a Family season pass (2 adults and 4 children) to the Schenley Park carousel. Expires October 3

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 12.20.32 PMGlowgolf $10 (3 rounds of indoor minigolf for 2 people) up to $27 (for six people). Expires 180 days after purchase

Adventure Creek ropes zipline Course (Wheeling) $49 (2 adults) or $89 (2 adults and 2 kids) for adventure course. Expires October 25

GoApe $49 (adult) $31 (kids) ropes and zipline course in North Park. Expires July 1


Living Social

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 12.16.44 PMGlen’s Custard $7 (2 rounds of mini golf and custard), $15 (four rounds of mini golf and custard). Expires 90 days after purchase

Strike First Paintball $25 (paintball package for 1) up to $79 (package for 4). Expires March 2, 2016

Pennsylvania Motor Speedway $30 for two adults and two kids admission to races and parking. Expires 90 days after purchase

Batting Practice Limited $10 for 15 batting cage tokens


Just Pay Half

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 12.15.57 PMLatitude 360 $10 for $20 of arcade games, more options. Expires November 30

Living Treasures Animal Park (Donegal location) $27.94 for four admissions. Expires May 19, 2017

Wildwood Highlands $25 for 5 attraction passes and $10 in tokens. Expires December 31, 2015

Flight Trampoline Park $5 (kids 6 and under), $7 (kids over 7) one hour jump pass. Expires May 31, 2017

Laser Storm Laser Tag $28 for 8 games of laser tag. Expires December 31, 2016

North Versailles Bowling Center $14.99 for 2 games of bowling (for 4), large pizza and pitcher of soda. Expires June 30, 2016

Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark (Greensburg location) $15 for 2 2-hour admissions, 2 skate rentals and 2 drinks. Expires December 31.