“Go play!” mom would insist as the screen door hit our backsides. She shoved us out the door and expected us to entertain ourselves until dusk while she caught up on (what we now unfortunately know) a ton of cleaning.
If you’re like us, cramped into condos and apartments with a major thoroughfare for a front yard, you don’t have the luxury of space. Although our tiny porches are stuffed with a sandbox, chalk, and paint, we still need to look outside the house to fill up our kids’ days. Each week, we spend a lot of time out and about investigating interesting activities and fun things to do in town and wanted to share it with you with this column, named after our little ones.
For our first adventure, we decided to check out some pumpkin patches just in time for Halloween. “Pumpkins! I love pumpkins! I want to hug it,” was Dashiell’s reaction to pumpkins as a toddler. Now at the august age of 4, he’s moved on to “selekins [sic], mummies, and freakensteins,” but he still appreciates a good patch as long as it includes one of those bouncys.” Two-year-old Zora loves anything her big brother is interested in and offers a “yea! Halloween!” whenever she sees a pumpkin.
At 18 months, Addison isn’t too sure about Halloween, but she knows she loves to get out and about with her pals. She hands her mother her shoes and bangs on the front door saying “bye bye” until that door opens to her next adventure.
Despite the fact that there is not a hint of fall in the air, we all headed to Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark, a real working farm about an hour from Santa Monica. There is a whole fall festival extravaganza happening with pony rides, pumpkin patches, hayrides and games.
The 90 degree heat didn’t stop people from coming. When we arrived at 10 a.m., the place was already hopping.
As soon as we got inside, Dash was determined to find a bouncy until he thankfully spotted the cow train. We were grateful for the much-needed breeze supplied by the turn around the pumpkin patch, even if it did knock Addison’s hat right off her head.
Next it was time to satisfy Zora’s love of animals with an informative animal show about her favorite farmyard characters. But afterwards we couldn’t get excited about the petting zoo in the heat, and honestly the goats didn’t look too excited to be there, either. On a cooler day, the chickens, lambs and goats would be fun to pet and the kids could feed the emus, turkeys and other exotic animals.
Afterwards, we found a spot under a tree and had some lunch and watched the pig races. A swarm of red ants interrupted our next event, Barnyard Tales, by attacking Addison’s foot. Luckily, the Crosstown Cowboys Western band cheered her up.
Our day at the farm was not cheap. Admission is $10 per person over age 2 on the weekends, and many of the rides, games, and activities cost between $2 and $5 each. An hour’s entertainment in the sizzling heat cost us $45, and that’s before lunch!
Food selections were limited to fast food festival fare, so you may want to bring a sack lunch. A word of advice, if you are going to try your hand at the corn maze, don’t leave it for last. After wending our way this way and that, we were just grateful to find our way back to the entrance before the kids melted down.
As Dash was still begging for a bouncy, we also tried the YMCA pumpkin patch in Temescal Canyon Park. The patch is surrounded by the Santa Monica Mountains, allowing you to connect a little with nature. The bouncy is also free, and the proceeds from the pumpkin sale benefit the Y. Honestly, the kids had just as much fun. Sometimes it’s not about the big event and spending the big bucks, it’s about keeping it simple and staying local.
YMCA Pumpkin Patch open Monday— Friday, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday — Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., located at the corner of Sunset and Temescal Canyon boulevards. Free parking.
Underwood Family Farms Fall Harvest Festival now through Nov. 1, open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
Find more information, links, and details about Addison’s, Zora’s and Dash’s adventures at smatoz.blogspot.com.