Fall Activities, Pumpkin Patches

Frog Pond Farm Pumpkin Patch

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year with the kids. Yes, summer has it charms, with its sun and lack of school. But fall is special. Fall is pumpkin patches, pie, cider, donuts, leaves, sweaters, farms, and that special glow of a gorgeous fall day. I love it all.

This year we found many of our favorite pumpkin patches had permanently or temporarily closed, or had modified this offerings. As a result, we decided to return to an old favorite but also explore new options.

After some serious Googling, we decided our first new experience would be Frog Pond Farm. As soon as they mentioned the presence of llamas, I was sold. We coordinated with another family who were also very excited about said llamas, and waited for the day to arrive. When it did, I tried to squash my grumpiness about the downpour taking place that morning. I refused to let a little water ruin our day! Are we not Oregonians?!?

Located on the outskirts of Wilsonville, it was an easy drive from our area. And much drier. Turns out my Oregon battle cry was a bit unnecessary as it was an absolutely gorgeous day and not even a smidge damp.

Our adventure began as soon as we pulled into the parking lot and saw a chicken roaming loose. Commence the excited shrieks of children. We got everyone unloaded and paid our $10 entry fee and paid an addition $5 for a large cup of animal feed. We turned the corner and were greeted with an open play area. The boys were instantly drawn to the basketball hoops hung on the barn wall, a large net to throw/kick balls into, corn hole, and other sporty endeavors. The girls immediately gravitated to the alpacas, doneys, emus, goats, etc. that were surrounding the area and separated from visitors by fencing. There were also water-pump rubber duck races and a small tube maze.

After playing in that area for a long time, we continued on and found a panning for treasure (little colored pebbles) station that the kids enjoyed. There was also a hay bale pyramid, lots of bouncy horses, large tubes to use like a hamster wheel, photo opportunities, kid sized backhoe diggers, coffee, treats, and food. Food options included tacos, fried cheese curds, corn dogs, grilled cheese, ice cream, burgers, and drinks. Most were around $5, although the burger was more. This area also entertained us all for quite a while. Then we spotted the camels. We had to go see the camels!

Our group carried on down the path, passing pigs, geese, camels, and other fun critters. You pass under large power lines, and the kids were all excited to hear the crackling of electricity. This took us to a final area, which had more tube slides, a fence maze, and a huge tennis ball sling shot range. The sling shot was a HUGE hit, and we spent a very long time flinging tennis balls at a variety of targets. The kids got very creative, lying on the ground and creating human chains trying to figure out ways to increase their power and get the balls to really fly.

Although signs encouraged visitors to drive to the pumpkin patch to make loading the pumpkins into their cars easier, we chose to walk over since we weren’t planning on getting pumpkins. I bet you can guess what happened. We got a pumpkin and had to walk it all the way back. Lesson learned.

The patch had small to midsized pumpkins spread around the large, fenced in area. But the pumpkins were definitely not the stars of the show. It was the alpacas! There were approximately 20 alpacas wandering freely, and it was so fun! While they were a bit shy, they were more than willing to check and see if you had any feed for them and some seemed to enjoy posing for pictures. Many, many pictures. One in particular wasn’t very selective about his food and tried to munch my sweater, Chicken’s hair, and my backpack. They rest had more respect for our personal space. But they were all sweet, soft, quirky, and silly. Interacting with them was a highlight of the visit for sure.

We wound up spending about 5 hours playing, and probably could have stayed even longer. It was definitely money well spent!

Frog Pond Farm also have an evening Spooky Farm Trail, which we did not participate in. My kids are still traumatized from a previous haunted house and I don’t think they will EVER venture into something labeled ‘spooky’ or ‘haunted’ again. But the online info makes it look fun, and it may be worth a try if you are braver than we are!

Soooo…..

What it’s not: a place to purchase giant pumpkins

What it is: fun, gorgeous setting, a unique way to interact with a variety of animals- especially alpacas, a great value, a fantastic way to spend a fall day as a family, competitively priced pumpkins (ours was $9)

Do we recommend it? Yes! Most definitely! We had so much fun and will absolutely be returning in future years!

If you miss the fall festivities, they also have a Christmas tree farm in the winter and traditional farm tours late spring through early September.

You can check out their information here: https://www.thefrogpondfarm.com/visit-the-farm

Fall Activities

Halloweentown

We finally got around to going to Halloweentown in St. Helens!  In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s based on the Disney Channel movie of the same name that came out in the late 1990s.  I’ll admit that I was a fan back in the day, but the kiddos are not familiar with it.  If you haven’t seen it, it is available to rent on Amazon’s movie service.  It shows up on Disney Channel a lot during this time of year as well.

Basically, a few blocks of the downtown area are shut down and are turned into a basic recreation of the movie town.  There are great photo ops and lots of businesses have themed stores and stands.  We went to Fairyland, the haunted house, the Shoestring Community Players skits for kids, the playground, and some of the stands and opportunities.

So, Fairyland.  $12 for kids, $15 for adults.  The kids really enjoyed it, but I found it overpriced for what it was.  The big hit for my kiddos were those inflatable balls you can get inside and roll around in.  Fun and unique, to be sure.  There was a sand pit with “treasure,” oversized checkers, a hammock area, a recreation of Stonehenge, and characters like Maleficent, Tinkerbell, and some Game of Thrones lady (no, I don’t know her name.  Can’t stand the show.  Bring on the shock and criticism).  My personal favorite part was receiving the s’mores kits and getting to roast them at the fire pit next to the river.  That part was pretty cool.  Re-entry was allowed, which was nice.  We took advantage and went in and out several times.  It also includes a $5 gift certificate to the official Halloweentown merchandise store, which sold shirts, hats, coffee mugs, etc.  With our $5, we were each able to get a cute reflective tag which will be perfect for trick-or-treating.

We did the all ages haunted house.  Kids’ idea.  I should have known better.  It was labeled all ages, but I would argue that it is not.  It is the same haunted house they use to terrify the adults at night, but without the actors jumping out at you- thank heavens!  The beginning portion was actually pretty cute, but it got more and more intense as you went.  By the time Nugget was crying and Chicken was loudly and emphatically shouting “get me out of here.  Now!,” I called it a fail, turned around, and headed out the way we came.  Rules schmules.  Most of the kids under 12 who made it all the way through came out crying or looking thoroughly scared.  There were a few kiddos who loved it, of course.  Just not mine.  For the three of us it cost $37.

The Shoestring community players read poems and did short skits every 30 minutes.  The “show” lasted about 10 minutes each time.  Theater nerds that they are, Chicken and Nugget insisted on going to three in a row.  Cute and free.

A local real estate agent had a table set up in his office where kids could paint and decorate ‘haunted’ bird houses for free.  That was also a hit.

Like I mentioned, lots of cute and free photo ops.  Spiderman and friend were wandering around, which Nugget found to be very exciting.  There was live music playing (very loudly), and all performers were quite good.

If you are a fan of the movie, there were chances for pictures and autographs with the original cast, which would be cool if that’s your thing.  There are also many other activities and move tie-ins that we did not partake in.  The pumpkin lighting sounded like a lot of fun, but we took off before that happened.

As the evening progressed and it became darker, more people were coming in more “frightening” costumes.  Chicken gave the killer clown a very wide berth and crashed into numerous people and things due to constantly looking over her shoulder to make sure he wasn’t within 100 feet of her.

What it is: a cute community event, mostly kid friendly, a good excuse for the kids to wear their costumes an extra time, easy to spend a lot of money, a great movie tie-in, about an hour from Portland, more depending on where you are starting from, well monitored with community policing (they were everywhere!)

What is is not: cheap if you want to do all of the things

Do we recommend it?  Half-heartedly.  It probably won’t become a yearly tradition for us.  If you love the movie, you should totally go for nostalgia sake.  If you have nothing else to do on a beautiful fall day, it is a fun way to spend an afternoon or evening.  And the kids really did love Fairyland

Parking is $10, cash only, and close to the event.

http://discovercolumbiacounty.com/20180101/