Pumpkin Patch Tour: Wills Family Orchard, Center Grove Orchard & Howell’s

Pumpkin Patch Tour-4


Ever since the kids and I did our Tour of Parks, we’ve been looking for more Tours to go on. During our Tour of Wading Pools this past summer, the kids and I thought it would be fun to do a Tour of Pumpkin Patches. The object is simple: go to as many local pumpkin patches as we can possibly fit in. Unlike our other Tours that we did in a single weekend, our Tour of Pumpkin Patches will take place over the next six weeks.

For our third weekend of our Tour of Pumpkin Patches, we made it to three pumpkin patches: Wills Family Orchard, Center Grove Orchard, and Howell’s. Our original goal was to go to four patches: Wills, Patch’s, Howell’s, and the Pumpkin Ranch. Saturday we were disappointed to find that Patch’s Pumpkins is no longer in operation. We went there 3 years ago and loved it for younger kids. On Sunday, we spent a few hours at Howell’s and decided another patch would be too much for the kids, so we rescheduled the Pumpkin Ranch for an upcoming weekend.


Our first stop for the weekend was Wills Family Orchard is Adel, Iowa. Here they have a corn maze, pumpkin patch, hay rides, an apple orchard, animals, and games. We didn’t do too much here because the kids mainly wanted their Apple Cider Donuts (which were amazing). We played games and saw the animals, but the kids opted out of doing the corn maze and picking a pumpkin from their patch.


The kids enjoyed petting the goats and getting their shoes pecked by chickens.



Saturday afternoon/evening we went to Center Grover Orchard in Cambridge, Iowa. This is like the amusement park of pumpkin patches. There really is a ton to do, but be prepared to wait in lines and pay $$$ for things. With our admission, coffee drinks, dinner for the kids, apples for the apple sling shot, pumpkins, and goodies from the country store we wound up forking over $160. I’m a fan of simple pumpkin patches so CGO is not my first choices of patches, although the kids had fun. If you do plan on visiting, plan for an all day visit and take advantage of some of their free shows (they had a banjo band playing while we were there).1444093026389




One thing that really bothers me about CGO is the lack of staff at the different activities. When we visited two years ago, all of the kids were younger and thoroughly enjoyed the hay bale maze. However, older kids were jumping across the bales of hay and kept knocking the little kids in the head. Same story this year, although my kids are now (mostly) old enough that it wasn’t too big of an issue. In the ten minutes we spent at the hay maze, I witnessed at least four parents walk away with screaming kids because they were hurt from the kids jumping overhead.


The bouncy horses were tons of fun! Again, no one to supervise this area (and apparently no parents around either) because most kids came running in and would push other kids off of the horses so they could have a turn.



The favorite activity at Center Grover Orchard: the giant slides! Hubs and Elizabeth, Harrison, and Max raced each other. Despite long lines at the slides, the line moved quickly.



Beautiful Iowa countryside.


We’ve been in so many corn pools recently that I’ve been finding corn in places where no corn belongs….on another note, the kids love jumping into the corn. After the activities, we picked out pumpkins and shopped at the Country Store. We got THE BEST honeycrisp apples that I’ve had in years (and only $2.00 per lb.), more apple cider donuts, and salsa. Next year I’m voting to skip all of the activities and just go shopping in the Country Store!

Sunday morning we braved the cold, cloudy day and went to Howell’s. We’ve been to Howell’s several times and enjoy it every time. Just as we did last year, we bought the Groupon a month ago and saved quite a bit on admission. We didn’t do any of the extra activities (such as pony rides) other than the corn shooter ($1 for 4 ears of corn to shoot). This year we spent a lot of our time in the corn maze and picking out pumpkins.


Checking out the corn maze before we went in.


Trying to find our way through the maze.



We found a bunch of unique pumpkins for our yearly collection.1444093812613

Another corn pool.



We ended our weekend talking about the pumpkin patches we’ve been to while we enjoyed pumpkin s’mores. Of the three patches we visited this weekend our favorite was Howell’s. Of all of the patches we’ve visited the past three weekends (Geisler Farms, Iowa Orchard, Wills Family Orchard, Center Grover Orchard, and Howell’s) Geisler Farms has been our favorite.


Read more about our Tour of Pumpkin Patches Weekend 1 here and Weekend 2 here.

About the Author

1423869052310-300x236Ashlen Sheaffer is a proud Des Moines resident who was born and raised here. Ashlen wears many hats: mom, wife, daycare provider at her in-home daycare, blogger and co-owner at The Kidsperts, children’s book author, and co-director and producer for the upcoming play Expressing Motherhood play. In her free time Ashlen enjoys exploring all Des Moines has to offer, road trips, and adventuring all with the kids in tow. Ashlen is super excited to be able to share some of her family’s adventuring with other Iowans and get other families out into the community.

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Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

One thought on “Pumpkin Patch Tour: Wills Family Orchard, Center Grove Orchard & Howell’s

  1. We love Geisler farms too! My first impression was how clean and well maintained everything was. Also it’s not crazy expensive like center grove, I hope they stay that way! I have taken the kids to just get pumpkins at center grove, and you don’t need to pay admission. Just tell the attendant and you get a different color sticker, still get to enjoy the hayride and the donuts 🙂

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