While the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain -- which is, according to History.com the 2,000-year-old predecessor of Halloween -- did not exactly include pumpkin patches or haunted houses, the modern-day holiday is packed with these fun-filled kids' activities. If you live in Florida and you are looking for Halloween-time activities to entertain your kids, spooky choices await children of all ages.
Florida is much more than orange trees and sand-filled beaches. During Halloween, a variety of farms across the state exist that offer pumpkin patches and picking activities for families. For example, Aunt Louise's Farm in Waukeenah opens there pumpkin patch annually every fall for kids and families to pick their pumpkins. Ergle Christmas Trees -- in Dade City -- may sound like more of a December-fest, but this farm also offers fall festivities that include a pumpkin patch. Uncle Donald's Farm -- in Lady Lake -- has a "pumpkin patch" that the staff brings in from the fields. This type of pumpkin picking is ideal for little hands that may not want to walk out into the actual farm fields. Palm City's D & D Family Farm has pick-your- own produce year round, but features a special fall festival with pumpkin patches during Halloween-time.
If your child is ready, and old enough, for a night of ghosts and ghouls, take a family trip to one of Florida's annual Halloween haunted houses. The Haunted Angelus in Hudson, Florida does double duty as a Halloween family attraction and a fundraiser for a local Cerebral Palsy group home. For a major-league haunted house with pro-level scare tactics, check out Busch Gardens Tampa's, annual Howl-O-Scream. Another, equally as scary-inducing option, is the Haunted Woods of Ladylake. This haunted house, like many other haunted houses, is not recommended for young children who are 8 years of age or younger. Parents may even want to wait until the tween or teen years before taking their children to a haunted house activity.
Parents who are looking for a one-stop attraction that features many different Halloween activities may want to try a local fall festival. While the warm weather may make it still feel like summer, Florida is home to an array of seasonal fall festivities. Rogers Farm, near Gainesville, has a yearly Octoberfest that features a haunted trail, 10-acre corn maze, games, pony rides and fall foods. Likewise, the Sweet Season farms in Northwest Milton, Florida has a 7-acre corn maze and annual array of activities during their Fall Festival. Another nearby attraction is the Holland Farms' yearly pumpkin patch festivities. These include a hay bale maze, a petting zoo, a hayride, playing in the corn box and a double hill slide.
While it may seem that Florida farms have the Halloween pumpkin and festival activities cornered, other options for fall family fun activities also exist. For example, the town of Davie has a selection of fee and no-cost activities at their yearly Halloween Happenings. For a fee, kids can enjoy the pumpkin patch and food selections. Free activities include the bounce house, climbing wall, petting zoo and costume contest for kids ages 5 through 12. The Mounts Botanical Garden, in the Palm Beach area, has an annual Fall Festival in which children are encouraged to dress up in their Halloween costumes and check out the hands-on activities, face painting, pony rides and bounce houses. Although the Painted Oaks Academy in Orlando is known for their horseback riding lessons and equestrian activities, it also has an annual pumpkin patch for the public to play in.