It never ceases to amaze me that you can live in a certain area for practically your whole life and still discover new things to do. That’s how I felt last weekend, when my husband and I brought our kids to Country Sun Farm, on the south side of Highway 36 near Stillwater (between Lake Elmo and Manning avenues).
I’ve noticed the massive greenhouse while driving to Stillwater, but never really paid it much attention, other than glancing at their faux haunted house, giant pumpkin, and scarecrow while cruising by. I guess I always figured they sold pumpkins, and I could buy pumpkins at the grocery store. How come I didn’t know there was a free petting zoo, as well as a corn maze, corn pit, and hayrides? I would’ve visited years ago if I had realized how fun and family-friendly this place is!
After finding parking, we made a beeline to the indoor snack area, where coffee, pop, water, hot chocolate, hot dogs, chips, cotton candy, popcorn, and caramel apples are available. There are shopping-mall type quarter rides in this area, too, and kids were bouncing off the walls. I don’t know if they were excited, or had too much sugar, or needed a nap, or what, but it was loud and chaotic. (Not for the faint of heart.)
The second thing we did was head out on the lawn to the free petting zoo, where the boys fed the ducks (not too interested in the corn), chickens (not at all interested in the corn), and goats (very interested in the corn, to the point that they would’ve knocked over their fence if they could have). We gave them the option of going on a hayride, going in the bouncy house, trying their luck at gem mining, or walking through the corn maze, and they chose the corn maze. I was secretly glad. A corn maze is a fall experience.
The maze was challenging, but not too challenging, and just the right size to feel like we were getting our money’s worth (the fee is $4/person). I only had one moment of panic when my 3-year-old darted ahead of us and I couldn’t find him right away. I made sure we all stuck together after that, and thought about how one man even called 911 from a corn maze a few years ago, when he couldn’t find his wife and kids. (I understand getting lost for a bit, but calling 911? Really?!?)
Afterwards we headed into the greenhouse, where we paid $3 for each kid to play—unlimited—in their new corn pit. It was like a giant beach, only with corn kernels instead of sand (and no water). There were slides and rakes and shovels and buckets strewn throughout, and many, many kids falling in the kernels, burying their friends in the kernels, and scooping up the kernels. (Not throwing them, though. That’s one of their rules.) Parents sat on the straw bales and watched, shouting “No jumping! No throwing!” every now and then.
Finally, when the boys were good and tired out, we took a shopping cart up and down the rows and rows of pumpkins, looking for the perfect ones to carve for Halloween. I was really impressed with the selection, and the reasonable prices.
Considering the fact that Country Sun is within 30 minutes of my home, and everyone had so much fun there, I think a visit just might become an annual fall tradition for our family.
Fall hayrides and the other events take place every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hayride reservations can be made for large groups during weekdays, to accommodate private excursions.