This is my favorite time of year in the Lowcountry. While most of my Northern relatives are beginning their annual whining about the temps getting colder and the skies getting danker, I feel like Goldilocks tasting Baby Bear’s small bowl of porridge. This time of year is jusssst right.
The humidity is gone, and it’s magnificent to sit out on the porch at night. There is enough of a chill in the morning to inspire a brisk walk, but not cold enough to revolt my kibbles and bits.
This next four weeks is the calm before the holiday madness of visiting relatives, epic meal preps, and dizzying searches for the perfect Christmas gifts.
Halloween is the anchor, the masterpiece, the apex of all things autumnal appreciation.
There are a few truly local efforts to capture the magic of pumpkin patches, corn mazes and haunted houses. But the true Lowcountry life hack is to avail yourself to your surroundings. Whether it’s a minute up the highway or an adventurous jaunt along state roads in various states of disrepair, there are options aplenty to maximize your enjoyment of, in my humble opinion, the best month of the year.
Pumpkin Patch Festival, Oct. 21, 4-7 p.m., Shelter Cove Community Park, Hilton Head Island: Island Recreation Association sponsors this annual event that offers hay rides, face painting, bounce houses, a train ride and a lineup of games for the kids. This year, there is also a rock wall for teens and adults. Plus there is a costume contest that starts at 5:45 p.m.
Bluffton Police Department’s Spooktacular, Oct. 28, 6-8 p.m., Oscar Frazier Park, Bluffton: It’s all about the trunk or treating for the kids and a night out for parental socializing as they endure varying levels of candy and sugar load-up.
Cahill’s Market (1055 May River Road, Bluffton) is offering a pumpkin patch, a hay pyramid and a haunted trail ride open through mid-November.
The Sharman Family Light Show (43 Neligh Lane, Bluffton) offers up a nightly display of 8,500 LED lights set to spooky Halloween music. The show is open 7-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Halloween. Tune your radio to 99.3 FM to match the music with the lights.
Just a Little Drive
Holiday Farms Great Pumpkin Patch, 10884 Grays Highway, Ridgeland, holidayfarmssc.com: Open Thursday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays noon to 6 p.m. Full array of animals on display in the barnyard. Activities for kids of all ages include duck races, hay rides, corn grinding, steer roping, cow milking, a corn maze. There are also nighttime rides with a wiener and marshmallow roast available for groups. Tickets $15 per person for ages 2 and up. Unlimited barrel train rides for kids for $3 more on Saturdays and Sundays. Guests can bring their own food to enjoy in the picnic pavilion. Did we mention live pig races every day? Plus there are concessions and food trucks onsite and live entertainment on weekend afternoons. And there is a fully stocked general store with T-shirts, local honey, jams and jellies, candy, toys and more.
Dempsey Farms, 1576 Sea Island Parkway, St. Helena Island: The urban farm opens a you-pick pumpkin patch and farm market each fall Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Several acres of pumpkins, hayrides and a maze for the kids, and a variety of fall veggies and gourds available for purchase.
Alee Haunted House, Alee Shrine Center, 100 Eisenberg Drive, Savannah, aleeshriners.org: It’s the 16th annual edition of this Coastal Empire favorite just 25 minutes from Bluffton. The house is open weekends through Oct. 29 and of course, on Halloween. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $30 for the VIP limited wait passes and $50 to skip the line altogether and get a commemorative T-shirt. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. and close at 10 p.m.
Madrac Farms, 580 Ralph Rahn Road, Rincon, madracfarms.com: It’s an equally short drive to feed the goats and chickens, traverse the giant potato sack slide, immerse yourself in the corn crib (think ball pit, but with loose kernels), take pictures with the epically huge pumpkin and pick a few of your own and finish your day finding your way through the 3.5-acre corn maze. $10 per person, kids ages 3 and under are free. There are outside food vendors and pre-packaged food for sale, but you can also bring your own drinks and snacks.
We’re Day Tripping Now
Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch, 1235 Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant, boonehallplantation.com: If you’re a fan of corn mazes, this is the most worthwhile drive by far. Late Boone Hall owner Willie McRae loved this attraction, and the staff goes above and beyond to make this the envy of corn maze artists across the country.
Seeing how the farmers create these eight-acre works of art is worth the price of admission alone. But your $15 ticket also includes a tractor tour, petting zoo, pig races, two of the state’s largest jump pillows, inflatable slides and obstacle courses, rubber duck races, and Doc Magic’s Fun Time Variety Show. Additional fee events include the pumpkin sling shot launch, face painting and pony rides. The variety of food vendors is State Fair quality. Remaining dates are Oct. 21-23 and Oct. 28-30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
Boone Hall Fright Nights, 2434 Highway 17, Mount Pleasant, boonehallfrightnights.com: The perfect way to complete a full day at Boone Hall. The special effects and makeup behind this event makes this worth the ride, trust us. The event is open Oct. 20-23 and Oct. 27-30 and is ticketed separately from Boone Hall Plantation.
This year, there are three events that will scary the Beetlejuice out of you: the World of Freaks and Oddities, the Grossfest at the Lodge at Willow Ridge, and the Sinister Cinema Haunted Hayride: Extended Directors Cut. This is an age-12-and-up event, to be sure.
The scares are intense, but for the fright fanatics, the $35 general admission tickets and $60 VIP speed passes are bargains.
This is definitely a multi-hour event. Food vendors and the midway games open at 6:30 p.m., attraction lines open at 7:15 p.m. Events open at 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Poppell Farms, Odum, 1765 Hyma Poppell Loop, Odum, Ga.: It’s about 100 miles from Bluffton to Odum, a day trip that rewards you with a pumpkin pick and a 10-acre corn maze designed this year in tribute to University of Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett. It’s not actually corn, but sorghum, a cereal grain that grows just as tall as corn stalks. But there is so much more to enjoy here, including a petting zoo featuring Charlie the Llama and Elvis the Donkey, Farmer Brown’s Playground, hayrides, catch and release fishing, jump pads and a Wild West mining experience at Poppell Farms Mining Company.
The farm’s “Calf-A” offers burgers, sandwiches and chicken fingers. Save room for funnel cakes, candied apples, cookies and s’mores bars.
The Saturday and Sunday daytime tickets are $16.95 for events from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Friday and Saturday night farm featuring the flashlight corn maze and eight farm attractions is $8.95 and the haunted trail ride tickets (Fridays and Saturdays) are $11.95.
Tim Wood is a veteran journalist based in Bluffton. Contact him at email@example.com.