One underrated advantage of living in the middle of a rural area is all the pumpkin patches, farms, and apple orchards nearby. There are many places around Champaign-Urbana where fall can be celebrated in the highest capacity possible. If you haven’t picked your own pumpkin from a giant, muddy field, while sipping homemade apple cider do you really love fall? Sure, but why would you want to miss out on such a momentous experience? 

If you’re new to the area or really love fall and can’t get enough selfies with pumpkins, these are places you definitely need to check out before the end of autumn. From goats, to corn mazes, Central Illinois has it all in fall. (Sorry)

Curtis Orchard & Pumpkin Patch 

  • Distance from campus: This orchard is only 10 minutes from campus, making it the perfect place to stop by after class or on the weekends.
  • Autumn activities: Curtis offers horseback riding through the orchard, a petting zoo, shopping, apple and pumpkin picking, and a corn maze. 
  • Food available: Try their apple cider donuts and fresh apple cider slushies! They also have a variety of lunch items and desserts at The Flying Monkey Cafe.
  • Photo opportunities: There is a huge mural of the Wizard of Oz crew near the entrance of the orchard and a giant silo painted to look like the Tin Man. 
  • Watch out for… KITTENS. Kittens have been known to frequent Curtis Orchard, wandering around and distracting guests with their cuteness. 

The Great Pumpkin Patch 

  • Distance from campus: Located in Aurther, this patch is about 45 minutes from UIUC.
  • Autumn activities: The Great Pumpkin Patch offers pumpkin picking, corn and hay mazes, a restored one-room schoolhouse, pumpkin displays, shopping, and live music on weekends. 
  • Food available: Pumpkin ice cream, caramel apples, homemade baked goods at their Homestead Bakery, and kettle corn are some of the tasty treats found there. 
  • Photo opportunities: They always have an international pumpkin display and thrones for the King and Queen of pumpkins. 
  • Watch out for… The haunted barn. Enter at your own risk. 

Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch

  • Distance from campus: Thankfully reindeer don’t all live at the North Pole. These reindeer live in Rantoul, which is about 25 minutes from campus. 
  • Autumn activities: The main attraction for fall is their GIANT corn maze, which is shaped like a scene from outer space this year, as well as hayrides and a paintball gallery. Reindeer tours are also available. It doesn’t have to be Christmas to appreciate an adorable reindeer.
  • Food available: Their concession stand has pulled pork parfaits, nachos, and gourmet hot dogs. 
  • Photo opportunities: Selfies with reindeer are a must. 
  • Watch out for… Flying pumpkins! They have a massive Jack Splat Cannon that launches pumpkins into the air. It’s pretty fun to watch them smash to the ground, though. (As long as you don’t get pumpkin guts on you)

Wagon Wheel Pumpkin Farm

  • Distance from campus: This farm is in Clinton, about a 40 minute drive from CU. 
  • Autumn activities: Here, you can find a hay maze, swings, a petting zoo, shopping, and pumpkin picking.
  • Food available: Fresh baked goods like cinnamon rolls and pies, and apple cider slushies can be found in the Farmstead Cafe!
  • Photo opportunities: They have many beautiful fall displays around, perfect for an autumn profile pic. 
  • Watch out for… Peacocks. These wild birds wander around the farm, waiting to dazzle you with their multicolored feathers.