Little Lake County parents are active, mobile and always seeking adventure! Sometimes we even traverse outside of our fair county to find family entertainment beyond our borders. Due to popular reader demand, we introduce “Little McHenry County,” a monthly column dedicated to finding fun with our neighbors to the west, written by McHenry County Moms in the know. Explore and enjoy!
Have you chosen a Halloween costume yet? This year it’s simple – you can be “Supermom” and “Superdad” instantly once you bring your brood to Tom’s Farm in Huntley for an afternoon of family fun! The Chicagoland area has a plethora of offerings in terms of culture, cuisine, and entertainment options…but when it comes to good old-fashioned fall fun, McHenry County is King, with an amazing array of fall festivals and outdoor extravagances at your fingertips. The gorgeous scenery in the autumn months lures city slickers and county-hoppers out here to explore, and even ends up convincing some of us to stay permanently. Guilty as charged.
Tom’s in Huntley has been a family owned and operated farm for more than 40 years, and is my perennial go-to spot in the area. Tom’s is open year-round, but on October 1st, the Fall Festival will open for the season and your family can have the opportunity to check out this McHenry County institution for yourselves. Why Tom’s? Aside from it’s convenient and easily accessible location, I asked some pint-sized contributors and their parents why Tom’s is THE place to check out this October.
1) “The Corn Maze is Epic,” according to my 10-year-old pumpkin correspondent. Not only is there a mini-straw maze for toddlers, as well as a full-sized six-acre corn maze for those more adventuresome patrons, but there is also a fun trivia game available to play while winding your way through, which keeps the kids motivated while teaching them some interesting fall facts.
2) The Donuts. Who doesn’t love a freshly baked, fall-tasting bite of deliciousness? The donuts are ridiculously amazing, and it’s a constant battle of the tastes between the pumpkin spice and apple cider masterpieces. Take it one step further and, quite honestly, perusing the entire market is worth your time. The fresh produce, home-baked goods, and the hundreds of creative knickknacks and gift items will make you glad you saved your money on costumes. I actually once happily spent a full hour in the car driving back and forth just to pick up a Cherry Pie from Tom’s for my Father-in-law’s birthday…they are THAT good.
3) Different price points to accommodate budgets. Visiting any attraction as a family can cost a pretty penny once all is accounted for, but Tom’s keeps it real and reasonable, with many different price points to accommodate any budget. Buy an all-you-can-ride wristband and do everything.
4) Work for your pumpkin or take the easy route – your pumpkin will be perfect either way. Depending on the temperament of both your kids and you, choose whether you would like to snag a beautiful pumpkin that has already been plucked from the fields (perhaps by Cinderella’s fairy Godmother herself?) or take the tractor ride out to a secluded patch to wade through hundreds of options and choose the perfect pumpkin. Either way, you will have a prize gourd to take home, and YOU get to choose exactly how much effort goes into the choice.
5) Silly pumpkin people. Something that stands out at Tom’s are the storybook pumpkin characters that lurk throughout the entire farm. From Spiderman atop a gazebo to Little Red Riding Hood welcoming you to the play area, familiar personalities are everywhere, yet their heads are replaced with pumpkins to keep it fun and lighthearted, and new friends appear every year. Choose your favorite and say cheese!
6) Free of congestion. Although Tom’s has been buzzing with activity every time we’ve visited, it never feels overly crowded like some of the larger pumpkin farms in the area. We have never had to wait more than 10 minutes or so for a ride, and the play area is so expansive that the kids can just run around and keep themselves saturated with active content without feeling like they will get lost in a crowd.
7) Activities, activities and more activities. Pony Rides, a pumpkin jumper, inflated train, a pedal tractor track, and a barrel ride are all provided to entertain your kids, along with a huge assortment of climbing, jumping, and running options. Your kids will sleep well after visiting Tom’s, and both Will Farrell and John C. Riley will be delighted with all of the…activities!
8) Petting zoo. The petting zoo here is authentic, with farm animals to be fed and pet, and also also gives animal facts in each pen. The bunny village is simply adorable, and my kids absolutely love the goat walk, where they can use a pulley system to feed the goats and watch them wander around and above them.
9) Special events. Aside from the aforementioned activities, there are several special events that are offered at Tom’s as well. A kid’s craft corner offers a variety of fall art projects, and you can also build your own scarecrow here…or try out the Moonlight Maze – a family-friendly evening opportunity to check out the corn maze, go on a moonlit spook-free hayride and sit around the bonfire perfecting the art of s’more making. Events aren’t limited to the Halloween season either. Check in year-round for ladies night’s, tea parties, and other holiday events.
10) Small enough to be manageable, large enough to take your imagination to new soaring heights. Nuf said.
For a full list of activities, pricing, and times, please visit the Tom’s Farm Website.
Are you on your way yet?