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Pumpkins are a major draw to the North Fork this time of year. But here are some pumpkin-adjacent reasons to visit each farm. (Credit: David Benthal)

It’s easy to understand why visitors are so compelled to flock to the North Fork’s many pumpkin patches in the fall.

For starters, it’s a great time of year here beyond just the fields of orange, as area vineyards also celebrate the harvest season, hiking trails burst with fall foliage and seasonal menus at local restaurants shift to heartier autumn flavors.

But even if you just visited a pumpkin farm and headed back home, you would not end the day disappointed. They are loaded with a little something for everyone from hayrides, roasted corn and cider donuts, to haunted corn mazes, spooky ghouls and goblins all around.

Even though most of the North Fork’s U-pick pumpkin farms offer a lot of these things, they also each have something about them that makes them stand out. From craft beer and wine to fresh fall flowers and breathtaking desserts, here’s your cheat sheet to maximize your good times.

The Silo Bar at Bakewicz Farms in Wading River. Credit: Grant Parpan

The silo bar at Bakewicz Farms …

Bakewicz Farms already has a distinct advantage as the farm most easily accessible from the west, but there are even more great things about this newer pumpkin spot located just a short drive from the end of William Floyd parkway on Route 25A in Wading River. The biggest draw of all would be the farm’s silo bar. Handcrafted by the farm’s owner from an old silo, it features taps pouring craft beer and wines from North Fork purveyors. It’s also perfectly situated on the farm, close to a snack shack and the playground area where kids can run around while parents take a much-needed respite.

The corn maze at Stakey’s. Credit: Michael Vee

The corn maze at Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm …

Stakey’s is an old-school pumpkin farm on West Lane in Aquebogue that boasts many of the same attractions as the other popular farms, but benefits from being located slightly off the beaten path (though not free of fall traffic). Its monstrous three-acre corn maze is an example of how these farmers just know what they’re doing. It’s cut with the type of precision that would make even the most skilled extra-terrestrial envious. It’s challenging and fun for family members of all ages.

Pies at Wickham Fruit Farm. Credit: David Benthal

The pies at Wickham’s Fruit Farm …

What is a trip to the North Fork in autumn without a delicious pie? Wickham’s Fruit Farm, which offers all sorts of U-pick opportunities each month of summer and fall, is one of our favorite spots around to grab a fresh baked pie. And this time of year you can’t go wrong with their classic apple and pumpkin pies. Located on the Main Road in Cutchogue, this farm is also one of the oldest around, in the same family’s hands for centuries.

A bottle of Harbes Vineyard 2014 Merlot. (Credit: Lenn Thompson)

The wine tasting barn at Harbes Family Farm …

Look, there is nothing you can’t do at Harbes, OK. There is an obvious reason why this the most popular of all the farms come pumpkin picking time. But this is a post about what makes each farm unique and Harbes has something no other pumpkin patch has — a vineyard and winery tasting room. Sip wine made from grapes grown on the property from inside this 100-year-old barn that was repurposed to serve as a tasting room. We’d call it a hidden gem if this wasn’t one of the most heavily trafficked places around. (The farm’s strawberry lemonade makes for an extra sweet alternative.)

A cookie dough cone from the For Goodness Cakes dessert truck at Rottkamp’s Farm in Riverhead. (Credit: Michelina Da Fonte)

The sweet treats at Rottkamp’s Pumpkin Patch …

If you think the line of cars on the road is a sign of just how popular the North Fork is this time of year, you should also check out the line of people for the food truck parked outside Rottkamp’s Pumpkin Patch on Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow. That’s because For Goodness Cakes isn’t just any old food truck — it’s heaven for anyone with a sweet tooth. What better way to satisfy your cravings after a day on the farm than with a fresh rainbow cookie or peach-cobbler cupcake?

Owners and husband and wife team David and Michelle Fink with their three children: Charlee, Emma Jo and Thomas at Fink’s.(credit: Felicia LaLomia),

The shooting range at Fink’s Country Farm …

Have no fear, this is not your every day rifle range we’re talking about. At Fink’s Country Farm in Wading River the shooting is certified fresh and family friendly. I’ve done everything from shooting corn from a corn cannon to potatoes from an air gun or sling shot over the years. Like Harbes, this spot offers a little bit of everything and like Bakewicz, it’s on the western outskirts of the North Fork. It’s most easily accessed by heading south off Exit 69 of the Long Island Expressway where you’ll find it just west of the Route 25 intersection.

The fun frights at Krupski Farms …

Krupski’s also benefits from location as it is the easternmost pumpkin patch, located on Main Road in Peconic and accessed easily from Southold, Greenport or the Cross-Sound Ferry in Orient. But the real niche here is just how much this multi-generation North Fork family farm takes care to capture the haunting spirit of Halloween. Feel the adrenaline course through your body as you walk their haunted corn maze and follow that up with a trip through the haunted barn. It’s sure to offer a delicate enough scare for your youngsters to enjoy, but also suspenseful enough to keep you on your toes.

Flowers in bloom at Helen’s Flower Farm. Credit: Sara Austin

The fall beauty at Helen’s Flower Farm …

October isn’t just about pumpkins and Halloween thrills. It’s also a great time to brighten your day with fall flowers before winter frost sets in and makes us instantly start pining for the rebirth of spring. Helen’s Flower Farm on Union Avenue in Aquebogue offers colorful greenhouses for you to bring something more than just pumpkins home with you — although they have those too. 

Gabrielsens Country Farm in Jamesport. Credit: Nicole Smith

The sense of history at Gabrielsen’s Country Farm …

When Gabrielsen’s Country Farm moved off the Main Road in Jamesport to nearby Herricks Lane, we received plenty of calls from folks wondering what happened to their favorite place. Those callers were delighted to learn this throwback was still in town just a stone’s throw away. A unique feature here is just how much attention to history has been paid as you can check out the restoration schoolhouse and old-fashioned church on site. And of course don’t forget to check out their choo-choo train, a real crowd-pleaser among the 3-feet-and-under set. 

A tractor ride at Windy Acres Farm in Calverton. Credit: Grant Parpan

The playground at Windy Acres Farm …

The smartest thing the folks at Windy Acres Farm on Route 25 in Calverton did was build their wooden playground where any passerby can see it from the road. Even if this popular spot wasn’t your planned destination, the playground will have your kids hanging out the window begging you to stop. Now good luck getting them off the slides and out into the fields!