Wander local corn mazes for unique fall adventures
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Corn season may be winding down at the grocery store, but corn maze season is just starting at local farms. Families can wander through acres of trails while playing games, learning about farm life or even being pursued by zombies. After you're done getting lost, stick around to enjoy the other attractions these spots offer for fall including petting zoos, hayrides, pumpkin patches and jumping pillows.
Here is a sampling of local mazes:
9407 Richardson Road, Spring Grove, (815) 675-9729; richardsonadventurefarm.com
Hours: Noon to 10 p.m. Sunday; 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; through Oct. 27
Price: $13, $10 for kids ages 4-12; free for kids under age 4
Billed as the world's largest corn maze, the 33-acre maze at Richardson Farm is actually four mazes in one, including trails for little kids where you can find your way out by always going in the same direction.
"We have always specialized in highly detailed, unique drawing, so the maps look spectacular," co-owner George Richardson said.
This year the farm is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first album with both the overall design and a maze filled with trivia about the band and other topics. When you leave one maze, you cross a bridge to get to the next one, providing a view of people wandering beneath. The farm has more than 25 other activities, including air-powered corn cannons, a 50-foot tube slide and jumping pillows.
39W369 IL Rt. 64, St. Charles, (630) 377-8118; nortonsproduce.com
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; through Oct. 31
Price: $7; $5 for seniors; free for kids under age 3
As you navigate the maze, search for 10 checkpoints to answer trivia questions and fill out a punch card you can enter to win a prize. New this year, you can play trivia and mark the checkpoints on a smartphone and use its GPS to help you navigate. You'll also get a map of the maze when you enter, so you don't have to be afraid of getting lost. An additional $1 gets you into Norton's Hollow, where kids ages 2 to 10 can feed animals and climb a straw mountain. Families are welcome to bring lunch and have a picnic, picking up some peanut brittle or a caramel apple for dessert.
Kroll's Fall Harvest Farm
13236 W. Town Line Road, Waukegan, (847) 662-5733; krollsfarm.com
Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; noon to 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday; through Nov. 3
Price: $7; $5 for kids ages 4-12; free for kids under age 4
Owner Ruthann Kroll drew the design for this year's corn maze on graph paper and hand-carved the five acres when the crop was about 5 inches tall. Kroll's Farm is educationally focused, and the corn maze is no exception. Kids learn about honeybees by reading informational signs at the beginning of the maze and then answering questions that are scattered throughout the maze. It takes about an hour for families to navigate the maze, and some of the questions are easy, while others are meant for adults to puzzle out.
"It's an hour where they're working together to accomplish a goal," Kroll said.
Along with the corn maze, the farm offers a $3 hayride and tour where visitors learn about the different crops that grow there. You can also meet plenty of animals including three baby goats, a donkey, sheep, a llama, a miniature horse, turkeys, chickens, a rabbit and ducks, and pick up a pumpkin to take home.
Siegel's Cottonwood Farm
17250 S. Weber Road, Crest Hill, (800) 304-3276; ourpumpkinfarm.com
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Oct. 31
Price: $12 weekdays, $14 weekends; free for kids under age 3
To celebrate the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup win, Siegel's Cottonwood Farm's 12-acre maze has a Zombie Blackhawks theme, complete with zombies wandering around inside.
"We always have people out there to help people get around and make sure kids aren't messing around, going off the path or throwing corn," owner Paul Siegel said. "Normally they'd just be farm hands, but now they're going to be dressed up, so they'll try to scare or play with guests coming through."
Younger kids can check out a two-acre maze, which is based on Joe Troiano's children's book, "The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin."
"Because bullying has become a subject of much discussion there's a storyline as you go through the maze about a square pumpkin getting bullied and picked on," Siegel said. "It explains to everybody that being different is not bad."
The farm has also added some new attractions this year: two huge jumping pillows, one for smaller kids and one for bigger kids and adults, and a zombie paintball game where you ride in an army truck through the forest and shoot at a mix of animatronic and costumed zombies.
All Seasons Apple Orchard
14510 IL Route 176, Woodstock, (815) 338-5637; allseasonorchard.com
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; through Oct. 31
Price: $8 weekdays, $10.50 weekends
Along with navigating three miles of pathways in the Scooby Doo-themed 12-acre maze at All Seasons, you can check out the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine provided by Volo Auto Museum. The farm also has a shorter path for little kids. Other activities include a petting zoo, jumping pillow and giant swings. You can pick your own apples and pumpkins for an additional fee.
Kuipers Family Farm
1N318 Watson Road, Maple Park, (815) 827-5200; kuipersfamilyfarm.com
Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; through Oct. 31
Price: $8.75 weekdays, $11.75 weekends; $5 for seniors; free for kids under age 3
Kuipers Family Farm offers three levels of corn mazes, an easy one that will let you take in young kids without fear of getting lost and medium and hard mazes with more twists and turns which you'll have to navigate by answering questions in a guide. Kids can also visit with farm animals, take a hayride and navigate a rope maze. For an additional fee, you can pick your own apples and pumpkins or buy ready-picked ones from the store.
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