The Pumpkin Village at the Dallas Arboretum is the perfect place for a photo op.

The Pumpkin Village at the Dallas Arboretum is the perfect place for a photo op.

File 2014/AP

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, as well as some pumpkin only spots to try. Where to start? Read on.

Dallas Arboretum

Autumn at the Arboretum

The Travel Channel just picked this as one of its Top 10 Pumpkin Patches. Pack a picnic or enjoy a stroll through the gardens during the arboretum's 11th annual fall festival. Pumpkin Village in Pecan Grove reflects this year's "Art of the Pumpkin" theme, decorated with 90,000 pumpkins, gourds, squash, hay bales and corn stalks. Cinderella's carriage returns to Pecan Grove, which is a great place for fall photo ops, and children can navigate through the hay bale maze and pick out a pumpkin to buy and take home at the Tom Thumb Pumpkin Patch. Visitors can enjoy the last of the summer flowers and view the spectacular color of more than 150,000 fall blooms, such as zinnias, impatiens, salvia and coleus, that respond well to cooler nights.

Continues through Nov. 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dallas Arboretum, 8525 Garland Road, Dallas. Find more info in our listing.

Hall's Pumpkin Patch

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 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.

Open Sept. 30-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.

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.

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

Big Orange Pumpkin Farm

30 great festivals you need to hit this fall in D-FW

For wide open spaces and fresh country air, head for this family-owned attraction at Preston Trail Farms. The farm moved from Celina to Gunter this year, and its new location includes 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 maze.

Through Nov. 23 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 maze and wagon tours through a Western town called Dry Bones, Texas, that's 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.

Through Nov. 1 at Storybook Ranch, 3701 S. Custer Road, McKinney. Find more info at storybookranch.org.

Photos: Autumn at the Arboretum begins with a seasonal pumpkin party

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, 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. Each child can choose a pie-size pumpkin from the pumpkin patch and decorate it with markers, and each family will receive a jack-o'-lantern pumpkin with admission.

Through Nov. 6 at Country Critters Farm, 3709CR 617, Alvarado. Find more info at countrycrittersfarm.com.

Tucker Hill Pumpkinville

The fifth annual fall extravaganaza features a tractor-pulled hay ride, a DJ, a petting zoo, face painting costume contests and more. You can also expect vintage farm equipment on loan from the Collin County Farmstead Museum, as well as photo ops. Proceeds benefit McKinney Christian Academy.

Oct. 17-31 at in a grassy area near the Tucker Hill neighborhood's front entrances off of Highway 380 (the neighborhood's on the north side of U.S. 380 between Custer and Ridge Roads), McKinney. Find more info at tuckerhilltx.com.

Other patches and pumpkin fests

Here are some other places to choose a pumpkin.

Pumpkins on the Plaza / Glow Party
  • The Kessler Pumpkin Patch Festival and Marketplace: On Oct. 1, pick a pumpkin, visit a petting zoo, take the kids for pony rides, take part in a cake walk and more. The event supports the Kessler School Parent Teacher Organization and Kessler Park United Methodist Church. It's at the church, 1215 Turner Ave., Dallas.

  • 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.

  • After Dark in the Park: This fest geared toward ages 2 to 10 has a pumpkin patch, as well as bounce houses, karaoke, storytellers, games, Animal Encounters presentations and more.  Oct. 7-9 at River Legacy Living Science Center, 703 N.W. Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington. Find more info at  riverlegacy.org.

  • Fall Festival at the Plaza: Have your photo made with a longhorn, ride a pony, play carnival games, go on hay rides, visit the petting zoo and more. Of course, you can also pick out a pumpkin at the patch. Oct. 15 at Castle Hills Village Shops Plaza, 2560 King Arthur Blvd., Lewisville. Find more info in our listing.

  • Nash Farm Fall Round Up: Hit the charming farm in Grapevine for a pumpkin patch, an apple pie-making station, pony rides, a petting zoo, tractor drawn wagon rides and more. Oct. 15 at 626 Ball St., Grapevine. Find more info in our listing.

  • Viridian Fall Fest:  Sales from the pumpkin patch will benefit Viridian Dad's Club and there'll be live music, craft beers and harvest-themed activities Oct. 15 at Overlook Park, 1210 Viridian Park Lane, Arlington.  Find more info in our listing.

Ellen Ritscher Sackett is a Dallas-area freelance writer. Ann Pinson contributed to this report.

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