BEYOND WHAT THE THING'S ABOUT: Whenever you receive a postcard or a flier or a circular in the mail that details an upcoming event, you can pretty much guess what will go down from what the event is. If it is a performance, you'll likely watch people dance. If it is a concert, you'll grab a chair and listen to some tuba or bassoon. But a pumpkin patch? That's a trickier thing. Yes, on the surface, a patch of pumpkins is about autumn aficionados arriving to choose that perfect gourd, the one that will sit on the dining room table through the end of October (when, spoiler alert, it'll become a Jack o' lantern for a day).
BUT PUMPKIN PATCHES... are very often about a lot more than wandering the rows of bright orange stemmed orbs. There's face-painting, sometimes, and the petting of baby goats, if you're lucky, or one of a dozen other charming and quaint happenings that seem to pair well with fall's quainter character. (Summer, we're not saying you're not quaint, but, let's be honest: You've kind of got the rock 'n roll thing going on to fall's quieter instrumental soundtrack.) Irvine Park Railroad in Orange gets the pumpkins-plus philosophy, and has for nearly a decade. The sweet train-nice destination is just about to open its patch, on Saturday, Sept. 20, but prepare for...
TRAIN RIDES... and hay rides and tractor races and a hay maze and games and other goings-on that are good for little ones. Including, let's add, an easy-to-navigate, not-long-at-all haunted house that is okay for smaller kids (it's dark inside but not too spooky). As for the patch? Well, the pumpkins aren't all lined in a rectangle. It's a most picturesque presentation, with gourds stashed around cabins and next to trees and lining walkways. You guessed it: Every parent is out with their camera, taking loads of photos of babies next to pumpkins. But isn't that part of the aforementioned charm? No one wants to just buy a pumpkin and leave. There's a little old-timey reveling to do.
THE IRVINE RAILROAD PUMPKIN PATCH... is open every day from Sept. 20 through Halloween.