When Thies Farm first opened Pumpkinland, it was a small, seasonal way to draw in families to pick their pumpkins. It was simple and free. Over time, it has evolved into a fall wonderland for families, complete with corn mazes, straw tunnels and slides. “We’ve always sold and grown pumpkins,” marketing manager Anne Thies says. “It has gotten bigger and bigger over time, and since we offer the unique aspect of being within city limits, it allows people to get the farm experience without having to drive far.”

While Thies Farm opened in 1885 at 4215 N. Hanley Road, it has since expanded to locations in St. Charles and Maryland Heights. Pumpkinland takes over the Maryland Heights and North Hanley locations in October, which allows visitors to immerse themselves in farm fun. “I like the straw tunnels the best,” Thies says. “I must have been braver when I was younger than I am now, however. I need a flashlight in there these days or I get claustrophobic!”

She is part of the sixth generation of Thies family members helping keep the family business thriving. Her father and uncle currently own the three properties. She and her brother help run parts of it—sometimes in creative ways. Once her brother shaped the corn maze into the phrase, Let’s Go, Blues! “We aren’t usually that creative,” Thies admits, “but there are always a lot of dead ends in the mazes.”

The corn maze isn’t usually planted until early August. It is a quick growing variety of corn, and when it reaches 5 feet tall, Thies says they walk through it and step down the stalks to create the maze. Soon after, the path is mowed and cleared for visitors.

Pumpkinland is open through Oct. 31, with plenty of reasons to make a visit. The corn cannon is back, and if visitors hit a target, they can win a T-shirt allowing them to boast about conquering it. Powered by compressed air, the cannons allow guests to launch ears of corn at a series of targets. Some activities like the corn cannon, face painting, pumpkin decorating and pony rides are available only on Saturdays and Sundays and incur an extra charge.

The search for the best pumpkin lasts all month, but late-October visitors get the added bonus of larger pumpkins. “The later you go, the bigger the pumpkins grow,” Thies says. “We call the 200-pounders Big Macs, and we offer them at a cheaper price as the month winds down. It’s always fun watching people try to get them in their cars.”

Tickets to visit Pumpkinland are $7 for children and $4.75 for adults.

what » Pumpkin Season
where » 3120 Creve Coeur Mill Road
when » 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
why » To experience the fun of a farm in autumn without having to drive far from the city