How do you pick the perfect pumpkin? It's not exactly as easy as pie. To help you in your search, we've rounded up some of the top spots to try. Where to start? Read on.

Dallas Arboretum

Think happy fall thoughts: 'Peter Pan' -themed pumpkin village will star at Autumn at the Arboretum

Pack a picnic or enjoy a stroll through the gardens during the Dallas Arboretum's 13th annual fall festival. The scenic venue has been recognized as one of "America's Best Pumpkin Festivals" by Fodor's Travel and one of Architectural Digest's "15 Breathtaking Botanical Gardens to Visit This Season." 

This year's Autumn at the Arboretum focuses on elements from the classic books and plays featuring the boy who would not grow up, Peter Pan. Housing more than 90,000 pumpkins, the internationally acclaimed Pumpkin Village is themed "Adventures in Neverland" Visitors can see a pirate ship sailing high seas of yellow and orange gourds and adventure through the Lost Boys hideout, while steering clear of Captain Hook and Tick-Tock the Crocodile. Pumpkins are available for purchase, and special events this year include a Quinceanera Fashion Show in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 22 and a fifth birthday party -- including cake -- for the the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden on Sept. 21-23.

Sept. 22-Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dallas Arboretum, 8525 Garland Road, Dallas. dallasarboretum.org.

Hall's Pumpkin Farm and Corn Maze

Plenty of pumpkins, yes, but it's the 2-acre corn maze that's the standout attraction on the Hall family farm in the heart of Grapevine. The tallest stalks reach as high as 9 feet, and the real challenge comes after dark for those who attempt to make their way by flashlight. Evening hayrides run approximately every 30 minutes from 5 p.m. to close on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Activities best-suited for tiny tykes are the hay-bale maze and the miniature tractor corral, and older kids can crawl around on antique farm equipment and visit the chickens and rabbits. Take your camera for photo ops at this attraction, which features displays of pumpkins ready for purchase and a pie-pumpkin patch for those who want to select their own.

Sept. 28-Oct. 31 at 3420 Hall-Johnson Road, Grapevine. Find more info at hallspumpkinfarm.net.

Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch

Kids check out the mini pumpkins at the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch.

Kids check out the mini pumpkins at the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch.

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Brute strength -- or maybe the help of a little red Radio Flyer wagon -- is all you need to hoist these plump specimens from the ripe rows of pre-picked pumpkins that are ready to go at the Double Oak Ranch. On owner Jan Balekian's front lawn, children delight in posing for photos with their favorite yard-art cartoon characters, hundreds of which Balekian hand-painted. The volunteer staff members keep watchful eyes on the children as they wind their way through the two hay-bale mazes, play on the merry-go-round, burn off energy in bounce houses and glide down the inflatable slide. Kids can also travel by train or by tractor for a good old-fashioned hayride around the grounds.

Oct. 1-Oct. 31 at 5100 Cross Timbers Road, Flower Mound. Find more info at flowermoundpumpkinpatch.com.

Big Orange Pumpkin Farm

Your guide to can't-miss fall festivals in North Texas

For wide open spaces and fresh country air, head for this family-owned attraction at Preston Trail Farms. The location houses a general store that offers feed, hardware, food and gifts. You'll find plenty of pumpkins off the vine here and can peruse the pumpkin patch as much as you like. Visit the creatures in the petting barn, including goats and sheep. There's also a hay-bale maze.

Through Nov. 21 at 15102 State Highway 289, Gunter (about 23 miles north of Frisco).  Find more info at prestontrailfarms.com.

Storybook Ranch Pumpkin Patch

Owned and operated by the nonprofit River Ranch Educational Charities, this pumpkin patch features pony rides, bounce houses, a petting zoo filled with farm animals, a hay-bale maze and wagon tours through an old Western town made up of authentic late-19th-century buildings moved to the ranch from locations throughout the U.S. Each child receives a mini pumpkin while supplies last.

Sept. 29 through Oct. 31 at Storybook Ranch, 3701 S. Custer Road, McKinney. Find more info at storybookranch.org.

Pumpkin Patch on the Farm

Get out of the city and breathe in some fresh fall air at this pumpkin patch south of Mansfield. Attractions include bounce houses, pony rides, duck races, a petting zoo, a train ride, a hayride, a wooden maze, and a train and tractor playground. Children can enjoy cookies and apple juice while listening to a storyteller. With admission, each child can choose a pie-size pumpkin from the pumpkin patch and decorate it with markers.

Wear costumes and trick-or-treat on the farm on Oct. 27. 

Pumpkin patch opens Sept. 29. Country Critters Farm, 3709 County Road 617, Alvarado. Find more info at countrycrittersfarm.com.

Poncho's Pumpkin Patch

Visit this 1890s Victorian farmhouse in the heart of Plano for a dose of history and culture. Poncho's Pumpkin Patch is the perfect place for fall photo-ops, with a hay-bale maze and plenty of pumpkins for purchase. All pumpkin sales benefit the museum, which aims to preserve history through its historical tours and educational field trips.

Children ages 1 to 9 are invited to come in costume and trick-or-treat on the farm from 10 a.m. to noon on Oct. 26. Activities include chicken feeding, a craft and tractor rides. Cost is $7 per child in advance or $8 at the door and $3 per adult. 

Adults 21 and up can enjoy the inaugural Pumpkins, Pinots and Pooches from 6 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 26. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome for an evening of ghost tales by the North 40 StoryTellers, a wine tasting by Scout and Cellar, caricatures, dog trick-or-treats, a costume contest, a puppy parade, bobbing for apples and dog training tips from Camp Bow Wow. Cost is $20 per person and $5 per dog, and reservations are required

Through Oct. 31 at Heritage Farmstead Museum, 1900 W. 15th St., Plano. Find more info at heritagefarmstead.org.

Other patches and pumpkin fests

Here are some other places to choose a pumpkin.

  • St. James Episcopal Church Pumpkin Patch: The patch is open Oct. 1-31 at the intersection of Audelia and McCree, just north of Northwest Highway in Dallas.

  • Pumpkin Patch Party at the Rustic: This uptown hot spot has partnered with TUPPS Brewery for the 2018 version of this annual event. Sample TUPPS' Full Grown Jack Pumpkin Spiced Imperial Stout -- and other TUPPS beers -- and decorate pumpkins to live music. Winner of the carving contest will win gift cards from The Rustic and a prize pack from TUPPS.  Oct. 14 from noon to 5 p.m. at The Rustic, 3656 Howell St., Dallas.

  • Viridian Fall Fest: Benefiting the Viridian Dad's Club, this event features a pumpkin patch and full Farmers Market, plus pet adoptions, lawn games (think washers, giant Jenga and giant Connect Four), live music, a petting zoo, food trucks and a craft beer tasting.  Oct. 15 at Overlook Park, 1210 Viridian Park Lane, Arlington.

  • Fall Festival at the Plaza: Have your photo taken with Humperdink the camel, get your face painted, play carnival games, go on hay rides, visit an exotic petting zoo and more. Of course, you can also pick out a pumpkin at the patch. There will be concessions for purchase and for $5 you can help judge a Chili & Cornbread Cook-off. Oct. 20 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Castle Hills Village Shops and Plaza, 2540 King Arthur Blvd., Lewisville. 

Ellen Ritscher Sackett, Ann Pinson, Kiley Faulkner and Brentney Hamilton contributed to this report.

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