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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pumpkin trains

The apple-picking season is coming to a rapid end, thanks to our odd spring weather, but the pumpkin farms are now open in force.  Just like the orchards, the pumpkin patches are full of kids' activities, including trains! Yesterday I noted that I'd seen adds for trains at Bengtson's in Homer Glen and Siegel's in Crest Hill. My local paper today has an add for Pumpkin Train Rides in Waterman, Il. According to the add, there is a walk through the Haunted Train Station, a ride past Halloween-themed spooks, including a long tunnel, and a stop at a pumpkin patch for a free pumpkin. This train runs weekends in October, but if we miss out a visit during the fall season, it looks like the Waterman & Western Railroad is worth a visit throughout the year for other events or just a weekend jaunt on a small-scale model RR. 
From the family archives:
A visit to the pumpkin patch at
the Fox River Trolley Museum
I've mentioned it before, but pumpkin train rides are coming up at the Fox River Trolley Museum, too. It's a nice low-key outing for fall, especially with the beautiful scenery of the Fox River to enjoy. 

So, I keep looking at the holiday activity listings of all types. Finding a train ride with a seasonal twist isn't difficult at all. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Orchard trains

When the fall season begins, a new crop (heh!) of kids activities appears all over the area. Orchards and pumpkin farms take full advantage of the family-friendly nature of a trip to the local farm for some seasonal fun. It's not just autumn's bounty on sale; it's a mini theme park at almost every site. The specific activity varies by farm, of course, but a wagon ride of some sort is almost always available at the larger places. Sometimes, that ride takes on a train theme.

One of our favorite apple-picking places is Jonamac Orchard in Malta. It's plenty busy, but far enough from suburban crowds to be more pleasant, in my humble opinion. We love Jonamac because the folks who run it clearly care about their crop and their customers. The staff is always pleasant, the grounds are always tidy, and everything -- from plants to buildings -- are well maintained. This year, timely investment in a frost fan and an irrigation system means they have apples for picking despite this year's odd weather conditions. Aside from picking apples and pumpkins, there's a farm yard full of kids' activities. My children love the enormous jumping pillow, but there's also the "Apple Train" among other activities. It's a small tractor pulling several barrels that have been creatively turned into "cars" on the train. Like everything else at Jonamac, it's adorable and well done.

We have not yet made the trip to Johansen Farms in Bolingbrook, but their promotional materials keep catching my eye, mostly because they, too, offer a train ride among their kids' activities. Others that advertise train rides include the Hootenanny Railroad at Bengtson's in Homer Glen -- this one is a real mini-train that leaves from a cute station -- and the "Pumpkin Mine Kiddie Train" -- a tractor-pulled ride with "train" cars -- at Siegel's Cottonwoood Farm in Crest Hill. So there's always a chance that a fall day at the farm can turn into yet another train trip for the family.