There’s not much better than fall in Northern Virginia. Beautiful weather and fabulous fall colors make us ready to head outside and find a pumpkin patch to play in. My 4 year old daughter and I headed over to Heather Hill Gardens Pumpkin Patch for a morning of fall fun.
If you’re looking for the giant slides and wagon rides that are the hallmarks of so many pumpkin patches in the area, look elsewhere. Heather Hill Gardens is more of a fall playground, designed for the 5 and under set. The playground is behind the garden center, and is a very manageable size for little ones. In fact, some of the moms that were there the morning we visited commented on how nice it was to be able to see the entire space at once.
Large pumpkins are spread throughout the playground to give it that fall feel, as well as a bunch of large wooden cutout characters and a seemingly endless supply of ride-on toys. There are 2 themed slides (both about the size of a large playground slide) and a moonbounce to jump in. There are also some classic playground elements, including a rope swing that all the kids agreed was “way more fun than a regular swing”, a zip line, swings, and several small playground sets.
My daughter’s favorite thing was a pumpkin “fort” – a tall structure with hay and mini pumpkins inside, a tower to climb up, and several giant tunnels coming out. It’s small enough that parents don’t really fit, and the 4 year old testers thought that this was the best part. As a mom, I loved watching my daughter find other kids her age who decided that the clubhouse was really a pumpkin pie factory and store – creative outdoor play at it’s best.
There are also 2 small pens of animals. Near the rope swing is a chicken coop, with large chickens and a very loud rooster. There is also a larger pen with a mix of animals – we spotted rabbits, sheep, ducks, and goats. There are signs up warning guests to not put their fingers in the pens or they might be mistaken for a snack. It’s nice to look at the animals, but we were a little disappointed that we couldn’t pet them.
Drinks and chips were available for sale, and there were several picnic tables available if you wanted to bring a snack or lunch with you. We didn’t see it, but we were also told that there is a port-a-potty available on the other side if the garden center.
My one big complaint was the cost of admission. Admission is $6 a person, including adults (kids 2 and under are free). $6 a kid would be reasonable, but charging for parents to supervise their children is a little much. It’s also very much a playground for kids 5 and under. Even my 4 year old was a little disappointed with the small scale and older kids would get bored very quickly. It does not compare to the big pumpkin patches and fall festivals in the area – if you have been to those, this will be a disappointment. The pumpkin patch website also advertises some elements that are not there and makes it seem like a much larger event. One small pumpkin is included with each admission.
If you have little ones, Heather Hill Gardens would be a great choice for some fall fun. We saw several moms groups the morning we were there, and all agreed that because of its size, it’s a great place to meet up with other families of little ones. It’s also great for those who aren’t quite big enough for places like Cox Farms or are easily overwhelmed by such large festivals. I was also told by two different families that because of its size, it’s a great spot for grandparents to take young grandchildren. While we were a little disappointed with the cost and size of the playground, we both agreed that it was a fun way to spend our morning.
Heather Hill Gardens is open Monday-Friday 10am to 6:00pm, Saturday 9:30am to 5:30pm, & Sunday 11 am to 5:30pm. The pumpkin playground runs through October 31.
Photos by Mara Surridge.