Jacksonville’s year-round sunny weather does not change the fact that fall is in the air. What better way to celebrate autumn than pumpkin patches, barn animals and hay rides? Check out our short list of wholesome ways to enjoy the season around town.
Celestial Farms is a farm animal rescue and educational facility, dedicated to helping people enjoy the therapeutic benefits of caring for farms and gardens. “We encourage lovin’ on all of our animals, and have healthy feed specifically for them, available for purchase at the farm,” Celestial Farms employee Veronica says. All animals are in different stages of rehabilitation and include pigs, opossums, cows, iguanas, goats and horses. Celestial Farms also has playgrounds and picnic areas. The farm is open Wednesday to Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. + Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Admission is $5. Celestial Farms: 13958 Duval Rd., Jacksonville, FL; celestialfarms.org //@celestialfarms
Congaree and Penn
Congaree and Penn is a great local option for Jacksonvillians wanting a memorable farm experience. Co-owner Lindsay Meyer says: “We think that October and November are the best times of the year to visit. The weather is starting to get cooler and the farm is beautiful.” Wagon rides and goat hikes, where you can walk around for an hour and a half with a small herd of goats, are also available. Plus, the farm produces in-house cider. The apples come from Michigan, which are infused with Florida fruits: muscadine grapes, fig and mulberry honey. The farm is open Wednesdays + Thursdays from 4-10 p.m.; Fridays + Saturdays from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sundays from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Reservations required. Congaree and Penn: 11830 Old Kings Rd., Jacksonville, FL; congareeandpenn.com //@congareeandpenn
Conner’s A-Maize-Ing Acres
Located about an hour outside of Jacksonville, Conner’s A-Maize-Ing Acres has it all: a pumpkin patch, corn maze, barn animals, and more. Betty Jean Conner, who runs the farm with her husband, says: “The feedback we get from our customers is we are very friendly, our farm hands are helpful and courteous, and our farm is very beautiful. It is very fun for everyone and there are lots of things to do.” The farm is about 125 acres, with a pumpkin patch with 2,000+ pumpkins from a Navajo reservation. The Conner family donates pumpkin proceeds to those in need in Haiti through a mission program called Dirty Feet Missions, as well as a local children’s hospital. Guests can feed the cows, visit the general store and enjoy food trucks. The farm even has an autism garden, reserved specifically for people with autism. Upcoming events include the Redneck Olympics, a haunted trail and a scavenger hunt. Conner’s A-Maize-Ing Acres is open on Fridays and Saturdays. $16.99-$40. Conner’s A-Maize-Ing Acres: 19856 County Rd. 121, Hilliard, FL; connerscornmaze.com //@connersamaizeingacres
Sykes Family Farms
Sykes Family Farms is always exploding with activity and visitors, many of whom are young kids who explore the playground and slides. Sykes offers plenty of enjoyment with hayrides and corn maze, and sells pumpkins in the general store. There are several routes to take through the maze, some of which include trivia to decide the next turn. As they say, “You’re sure to have an a-MAZING time.” The farm is open Fridays from 6-10 p.m. + Saturdays from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. + Sundays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $13-$15. Sykes Family Farms: 5995 Brough Rd., Elkton, FL; sycofarms.com //@sykesfamilyfarms