It’s official. We’ve entered the season of leggings as pants (#nojudgements) and pumpkin spice everything. Fall in the Pacific Northwest means delicious apples, ideal hiking weather, and, of course, pumpkin patches.

Portland’s geographical location means you only need to travel a short time in any direction before you hit agriculture. Our family lives in Beaverton and one of the benefits is the proximity and variety of farms in the area. This past weekend, our family ventured out to local favorite Hoffman Farms Store. (Click here for a list of family-friendly Portland-area pumpkin patches.)

Here are some tips to keep in mind this year as you search for your perfect pumpkins:

Know the patch’s COVID-19 protocol

This year, similar to berry season, farms have policies in place to limit the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus. Most patches require masks for all visitors (except those younger than 2) and request a distance of at least 6 feet between families. Additionally, some patches are requiring reservations in advance (Hoffman is not one of them). With all of this in mind, it’s good to check the specific patch’s website or social media before heading out.

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Dress the part

While we haven’t seen too much rain this fall, at least not yet, pumpkin patches are typically found on working farms. This means there’s likely a fair amount of dirt, which turns to mud quickly on a wet day. When venturing out, boots are the footwear of choice.For clothing, wearing layers is the way to go. It’s easy enough to remove an outer layer if it gets warmer than expected.

Prep the car

Surprise! Pumpkins grow in dirt. As such, even after a trip to the cleaning station, you’ll likely end up bringing some of that dirt home, along with your pumpkins. To prevent getting your vehicle dirty, consider laying down a protective layer in the trunk, like a flattened cardboard box or waterproof barrier.

Prepare for (a little) overstimulation

On our recent venture to Hoffman, there was a lot more going on than what we’ve grown accustomed to this year. In addition to the patch itself, the train was running (and being cleaned between each set of visitors), a musician was playing live music, and we saw more people than we have in months! My son seemed a little out of sorts at times, trying to pay attention to all the things. (This is by no means a criticism, more of a heads up.)

Overall, our trip to Hoffman Farms Store was fantastic. The staff was friendly and helpful, in addition to making sure that everything stayed sanitized and guests were kept safe. Wagons are provided for pumpkin transport and are immediately sanitized between uses. The train was a hit with the kids. Make sure you have a camera ready because Hoffman has numerous setups for taking Instagram-worthy shots. And the pumpkins themselves, they’re looking pretty good too.

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