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By Miriam Raftery
October 8, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Halloween is coming soon and with it, the annual tradition of finding the perfect pumpkin for carving a jack-o-lantern—not to mention sweeter varieties for baking pumpkin pies!  Fortunately, there are several great places in East County to find giant pumpkins, as well as fun family activities from corn mazes to petting zoos. 
Here are a few of our favorites:
Mountain Valley Ranch - 848 Highway 78, Ramona,
We spotted pumpkins bigger than many of the children frolicking in this patch. This farm offers a wide variety of pumpkins and gourds of seemingly every shape and size. There’s also a corn maze, corn cannon, petting zoo, and antique farm equipment.   Open seven days a week through October 31; cash only. 
Bates Nut Farm – 15954 Woods Valley Road, Valley Center
Famed for its giant pumpkins, including many over 100 pounds picked through the years, Bates Nut Farm also has smaller varieties reasonably priced. This working farm also has many other attractions, such as tractor rides, straw maze and petting corral daily as well as weekend extras such as a climbing wall, face painting and kettle corn. There is also a store featuring gift items, nuts, dried fruits and more.
Oma’s Pumpkin Patch – 14950 El Monte Road, Lakeside
Located at the Van Ommering Dairy, Oma’s has a $7 admission fee for kids (one adult admitted free with child, additional adults $3). Admission includes hay ride, hay bale maze, petting zoo, sand pile with toy trucks, kid-powered games and water bottle. A jack patch pumpkin is also included—and they are plentiful! “A Piece of the Farm” gift shop has items ranging from honey to hay bales. There is also an “Udder Delights” snack shop—and opportunities to tour a working dairy farm.

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