Few things are better for bringing family and friends together than a messy gathering around a soon-to-be jack-o-lantern. But that fun doesn't have to start on the kitchen counter (or floor). Venturing out to these pumpkin patches or apple orchards is a fall weather requirement, and these New England farms are a staple for families in search of autumn treats. Apple Annie in New Hampshire is a sweet, little farm that has pumpkins and apples already picked if you aren't up for an excursion in the orchard. Be sure to end the trip with a warm cup of cider and an apple cider doughnut... yep, they have apple cider-flavored doughnuts, and they're incredible. 

Continue your quest down—or up—to Beardsley's Cider Mill & Orchard in Connecticut. All we really need to say is they have pumpkin cheesecake, but they have other goodies too, like apples, pumpkins, and untreated cider to ferment your own hard beverage! Speaking of adult beverages, Quarry Hill Winery and Orchard is a pumpkin patch for grownups. Of course it is family friendly, but it's a great place to grab a group of friends and enjoy a fall day in Ohio at the winery. They have pears to pick, apples, cider, and wagon rides throughout the farm. Make an entire day out of the trip! Start with the pumpkins and cider, end with a glass of wine (or three), and take in the crisp fall weather... we hear the Buckeye Red is pretty great.

You know a pumpkin patch is legit if the road it's on is named after the farm. If you're down south, turn onto Burt's Pumpkin Farm Road in Georgia for a day at the patch. Burt's Farm is located in the North Georgia Mountains, and up there they have all sorts of awesome happening. Their selection is impressive, with gourds and squash of all different shapes and sizes, including a 150 pounder—that must have the neighbors talking!

There's also Butterprint Farm Pumpkin Patch in Illinois, which recently won the prestigious Conservation and Native Landscaping Award for the protection of the prairie soils on the farm through preservation and conservation practices. The pumpkin pros at Butterprint have quite the lineup of fall activities including rubber duck races, a puppet show, corn cracking, a petting zoo, rope making, hayrides, and more. 

And while there are corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and orchards aplenty in the middle states, we would have never guessed that any southwestern states would have the cool-weather climate to grow gourds—but Arizona locals know this is not true. Apple Annie's Orchard (don't get it confused with the New Hampshire Apple Annie's mentioned previously) has Asian pears, peaches, and apples at their fruit orchard and just down the road at their other location they have pumpkins and all sorts of autumn goodies. And while you're there, try out the corn maze featured in our run down of the most amazing mazes.

Round out your pumpkin quest in Oregon at Bose Family Farm. Challenge your friends to a round of mini disc golf or run loose in the hay maze for a game of zombie tag. And be prepared to make decisions on which pumpkins to choose. They have more than 30 varieties, from small baby-sized ones to large and decorative gourds fit to carry Cinderella. So you see, there's really no reason to opt for just a plain ol' pumpkin this season.

If you've got a day with the kids, pack up the car and bring your warmest fall sweaters to enjoy the festivities at more of the best pumpkin patches across the country. Between pumpkin carvin', pie makin', and porch decorting, you'll probably need a few pumpkins answyas. Don't forget to sip on somecider —what kind of trip to the farm doesn’t end with a warm beverage? 

Cover photo by Liz West