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Cardoza's Pumpkin Farm
5869 Lakeville Hwy., Petaluma
Much like Arata's pumpkin farm started it all in Half Moon Bay, Cardoza's started the pumpkin craze in the Petaluma area.
One of the great things about Cardoza's is they make sure you get to where you want to be. In the tradition of roadside attractions of a long gone era Cardoza's has signs along the highway for four miles in either direction announcing you are approaching the patch. Every mile your progress is updated until a mile out the signs start listing all the wonderful things you can see and do at Cardoza's Pumpkin Farm.
While Cardoza's address is on Lakeville Highway the entrance to the farm is at the end of Cannon Lane. This long narrow road climbs up the side of a small mountain while more signs along the road encourage you to continue.
Reaching the top of the hill you are greeted by a most impressive site. Stretching below you is the large Tolay Valley and the 1700 acres of Cardoza Ranch with 50 acres of pumpkins and 10 of squash, gourds, and corn. The drive continues down into the farm where a large parking area awaits. Parking is free during the week but there is a $2 fee on the weekends.
From here there are many choices of activities. The first activity you come to is their hay maze. While only three bales high it might not be a challenge for an adult the children will be sure to love it. If you're anxious to get your pumpkin you can catch a hay ride through scarecrow lane out to the pumpkin patch or enjoy a stroll up toward the farm house and select from the many varieties of gourds and squashes.
Activities at Cardoza's aren't limited to buying Halloween vegetables though, not by a long shot. Cardoza's is a working farm and they want to make sure you not only get your pumpkin and have fun but they want you to come away knowing at least a little more about farming than when you arrived. Sprinkled throughout the farm are a signs with interesting agricultural information. For example, did you know that pumpkins were once recommended to remove freckles and as a cure for snakebites?
Located in the back of a small shop selling numerous Halloween and farm crafts is a small museum that shows typical things you would find at area farms. Not just farm equipment but items farmers would have used in their daily lives. Most of the items are accompanied by plaques telling you what the items were used for and where they could be found. In addition to the museum, they also have a discovery room where people can learn about agriculture and Cardoza's sponsor classroom safaris where local school children can come and learn more about our environment.
Of course no farm would be complete without farm animals. There are plenty of friendly goats to pet and a good number of chickens; even some free-range ones making sure the farm is tidy. The also have three wonderfully friendly farm dogs. They ask that you leave your pets at home for the safety of their animals and yours but their animals will more than make up for leaving you best friend at home for a few hours.
While they like to keep the farm a quite place during the week so people can enjoy the peace of the countryside on the weekends the farm becomes quite lively. Every weekend they feature a haunted house, a kid's carnival with games, square dancing demonstrations, magicians, pony rides, play jumps, and live music.
The good people at Cardoza's want everyone to visit and enjoy their farm whether it is to pick your own pumpkin, visit their haunted house, buy a pie, or to simply enjoy a picnic by their pond. If you're in the area or even if you're not, it's one offer I wouldn't pass up.
Be sure to take a look at our Events Calendar to find all the other great events going on in the Bay Area. Or if you're reading this review in a year other than it was written, please check our Events Calendar for current dates and hours of operation.
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