I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I am not crazy about all of the family fall festivals that pop up this time of year. The last thing I want to do on a hot Saturday in October is look at giant painted wood pumpkin cut-outs and consume over-priced fried fair food. Don’t get me wrong – I love fall (who doesn’t?) and will sip hot apple cider and consume cider doughnuts while wearing skinny jeans, riding boots, and flannel when it feels appropriate to do so. The northern Virginia countryside is breathtakingly beautiful but being south of the Mason-Dixon Line ensures that early October is still quite warm.
That being said – when the stars aligned this past Saturday and we found ourselves with no scheduled soccer games and temperatures in the low 70s, we decided to finally experience a local fall festival. We opted to bypass the closer (and arguably more popular) Cox Farms and head an hour outside of Washington DC to Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia.
A 400 acre working farm, Great Country Farms is located at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visitors are encouraged to walk around the farm, pick their own produce, and enjoy being outdoors. Admission on Festival Weekends is $12 for adults and $10 for children. However – active duty military (and their families) are free and children 2 years and younger are also free. We were blown away by Great Country Farms’ generosity and incredibly thankful for the free admission.
With admission you are given a wristband, which gives you access to almost every activity on the farm: a corn maze, pumpkin jumping pillow, farm ninja course, putt-putt, multiple playgrounds, wagon rides to apple orchards and pumpkin fields, lots of slides slides, a bamboo maze, and more! Only two activities weren’t included and required an extra fee – the cow train and a gem mine.
We spent a couple of hours enjoying what the farm had to offer. The kids throughly enjoyed all of the playgrounds, mazes, and slides (us adults did too!). There is also a restaurant on site, The Roosteraunt. We only had the cider and doughnuts but it looked like a lot of people were enjoying the flatbread pizzas. We also enjoyed roasting marshmallows in the open fire pit and listening to live music.
After enjoying the activities on the farm, we opted to take a wagon ride over to the apple orchards and pick some apples.
Last time we were stationed here, we went apple picking in West Virginia and realized that doing so in 90-degree weather lacked the charm that we experienced during the quintessential fall festivities during our time up at Fort Drum, New York. And apple picking in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas wasn’t really a reality. Thankfully, our Great Country Farms experience was much better and we had a blast walking around the orchard filling our bags with apples.
When we returned, we paid $1.99/pound for the apples in the main barn. We chose not to go pumpkin picking because the temperatures will be up in the 80s again this week and decided that we’ll take the kids to Nalls Produce to pick out pumpkins.
Our visit to Great Country Farms exceeded our expectations and we had a blast experiencing the northern Virginia countryside during a cool-ish fall Saturday. Afterwards, we went across the street and drove up the hill to their sister business, Dirt Farm Brewing.
Guys – you can’t ask for a more picturesque brewery. We opted for the Tart 31 Cherry Ale (me), the Boots Off IPA (Clay), and cream soda for the kids. We sat on Adirondack chairs overlooking the valley below as our kids joined the others and rolled down the giant hill.
Our visit to Great Country Farms and Dirt Hill Brewing ensured that our first Saturday of October was everything it should be – filled with fall festivities, hot apple cider, a corn maze, craft beer, and even a Clemson win.
Great Country Farm Tips
- Military families: when you arrive, bypass the line and go to the left of the ticket booth where it says ‘Advanced Tickets’ and show your ID.
- The farm offers a CSA and multiple you-pick crops throughout the year, not just during the fall. Check them out here…next year I want to participate in the Big Potato Dig.
- Both Dirt Farm Brewing and Bluemont Vineyard are sister businesses of Great Country Farms. Don’t forget to check them out after your visit!
- Smash your pumpkins in all sorts of fun ways at Pumpkin Chunkin’ during the first week of November.