Open since 1912, Didier Farms is a sizable greenhouse and farmstand located at 16678 W. Aptakisic Rd. on the border of Prarie View and Lincolnshire, Illinois – about 30 miles north of Chicago. When Fall rolls around, their annual “Pumpkinfest” goes into full-effect as the entire property is transformed into an Autumn Wonderland. While there’s plenty of “pumpkin patches” in the Chicago area (and we love many of them), the large array of activities and sights is what puts Didier Farms among those in the top tier.
On the outset, there’s a ton of pumpkins available in every size you can think of, along with many of the oddball varieties. We spotted some “peanut pumpkins,” “red warty,” and a few “blue moons” in the mix on the Saturday afternoon that we visited the Farms. They have plenty of straw bales, hardy mums, corn stalks, and a robust selection of seasonal decor available for sale in two well-stocked stores (we bought a scarecrow). Food is available in several locations throughout the property (I had a brat and some sweet corn), along with fresh-baked pumpkin donuts, ice cream, and a host of other goodies.
There’s a straw maze and corn maze; pig races; a “parakeet encounter”; pony rides; camel rides; an exotic petting zoo; hayrides; painting/craft activities; and kiddie carnival rides.
While Didier Farms’ Pumpkinfest is fantastic, the one downside is the somewhat confusing pricing structure of the events and activities, which varies depending on when you visit. On weekends (when we went), admission is free, but you pay a la carte for certain things. While most of the prices were reasonable, one thing that really bugged me was the “exotic petting zoo.” The $7 admission fee is literally per-person, which means if your 3-year-old wants to take a walk through it, the parents have to pay to accompany the child. That’s not cool, and we’ve been to plenty of petting zoos where you pay for the child, and you escort them around. I waited outside with the baby while my wife walked our munchkin through the zoo. $14 for that + an additional $6 for a family photo with a baby kangaroo, and we’re at $20 just on some fenced-in animals. Oh, and add in a couple of bucks for some little cups of munchies for the little one to feed to the critters along the way. Now, in all fairness – Didier Farms farms the petting zoo out to another company, but the prices still irk me.
Didier Farms’ Pumpkinfest activities are open Monday-Friday 9-5, and weekends 10-5. Check out their official website for detailed pricing on the activities, which as noted above, varies depending on the day. Overall, this is recommended for a visit during The Rock Father‘s 31 Days of Halloween!