Get out there: pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and haunted houses

Our picks for the best corn mazes, haunted houses, and spooky fall activities around the country.

Get out there: pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and haunted houses

Picture this: You’re scared. You don’t know what to do. You don’t know where to go. You think you’re making progress...or maybe you’re back where you started. So, where are you? Well, if you’re having fun, you’re either in a corn maze or a haunted house. And if you’re not? Sadly, you might be in a rental car line. Ahhhhhh!

Sorry for scaring you with all that rent-a-car spookiness. But it is Halloween season, which means hair-raising and bone-tingling moments are all around us. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best corn mazes, haunted houses, and spooky fall activities around the country (and hopefully near you).

We’ll start with what might be the best corn maze in the country Exploration Acres in Lafayette, Indiana. A bit of a drive from Chicago, located just north of Indianapolis, but it’s well worth the road trip. The main attraction this year pays tribute to Netflix's Stranger Things (which happens to take place in a fictional small town in Indiana). Make a full day of it with hayrides, a visit to the pumpkin patch, a dive into the giant straw mound or a dig in the sand pile. Remember: These are only "kid's activities" if we stop doing them as adults. Trust us – they’re not any less fun than they were back then.

(Photo by Mark Seest via Lafayette Journal & Courier)

For another fantastic corn maze, we’re going from the Midwest to the southeast, where fall activities feel a bit different (read: warmer), but still look the same. In Mt. Dora, Florida, Scott’s Maze Adventures takes their corn-mazing seriously. There’s a game sheet, trivia questions, and plenty of beautiful days to enjoy it, since it’s south Florida and we don’t think the snow will have an effect on how long you can be outdoors.

From Floridian fall, we go up I-95 to the Happy Day Farm in Manalapan, New Jersey, where a dizzying 10-acre corn maze awaits (this year's theme is Marvel's The Avengers). Luckily there are lifelines for the hopelessly lost: maze-goers who correctly answer trivia questions via text are rewarded with helpful hints. A purpose-made game board gives visitors a chance to play “Maize-o-poly” as they traverse the corn paths. Getaround drivers in Philadelphia and Newark are just a few taps away from Happy Day.

If the “world’s biggest” superlative is what you’re after, head to Dixon, California, just outside Sacramento. There, at Cool Patch Pumpkins, lies the world’s largest corn maze. At a sprawling 63 acres, it’s not for the faint of heart – or the weak of knee. A map of the maze at Cool Patch Pumpkins would be difficult to navigate with a pencil, so we can only imagine the challenge of maneuvering it on foot. The challenge is certainly worth a day trip from the Bay Area.

(via Cool Patch Pumpkins)

While that may sound scary, getting lost in a corn field is not quite as terrifying as meandering through these illustrious haunted houses. (Or so we’re told. Truthfully, the writer of this blog is too scared for haunted houses. So I’m just going by what I’ve read here.)

In terms of pure terror, Philadelphia has you covered with a little experience called Terror Behind the Walls. Aptly named, TBtW is located inside the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary. Logging onto the website was scary enough, so if haunted houses are your thing, this should be a pilgrimage destination. Bring lots of stress balls to squeeze and loved ones to hold close. If you're in the city, visit to find a ride to this old jail.

From a place that’s obviously haunted (an abandoned prison), we’ll travel across the country to another where the creep-level is still sky-high: The Haunted Hotel in San Diego. Since it is San Diego, after chilling at the beach, and relaxing all day, take a drive to this spot that’s consistently ranked as one of the country’s best (read: scariest). How scary, though? Well, someone once sued The Haunted Hotel for scaring them too much. They sued. A haunted house. For being. Too scary. That's really all you need to know.

If you’ve had enough of regular ghouls and typical ghosts jumping out at you (or if you live in D.C and are tired of real-life swamp-people), head to Bennett’s Curse in Jessup, Maryland. Perhaps the nation's only vampire/medieval-themed haunted house, Bennett's Curse is known for incredible production value: realistic sets, convincing actors, stunning special effects.

Find a ride for the 30-mile drive to Bennett's at

Finally, if the eerie and disorienting isn’t really your thing, Dallas offers an experience you’ll definitely appreciate. Autumn at the Arboretum (featuring It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown™) is a visual spectacle featuring hordes of gourds on display through the end of October. It’s a terrific way to celebrate the season without getting your adrenaline pumping too hard.

Autumn at the Dallas Arboretum. (via Davis Staedtler on Flickr)

And that’s our list. Hopefully, there’s something on it for you and more importantly, near you. But if not, rent a car and find a pumpkin patch or apple orchard near you. It’s fall, after all, and the road to Halloween is sure to be a fun one.