With a 90-minute drive east of Tucson, visitors can experience corn mazes, pumpkin patches and the journey to Willcox, Ariz.
It's a terrific family outing in October, when people are reminded Thanksgiving and the commercial stresses of Christmas are just around the corner.
Apple Annie's Orchard, a family farming business since the early '80s, offers adults and children alike a chance to take a hayride, to pick, cut and collect their own pumpkins, and to grab a bag of kettle corn and head off into a corn maze at the Apple Annie's Produce and Pumpkins location.
It's open daily through the end of October from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The smell of kettle corn fills the air as hundreds of visitors make their way to the produce stands, the shaved ice booth, the pumpkin patch hayride and the entrance to one of three different corn mazes – each a different level of difficulty.
For $3, visitors hop on a tractor-pulled trailer, lined with bales of hay, and take a few-minute ride to the pumpkin patch. There, rows and rows of pumpkins are plump for the picking, ranging in sizes, and there are even a few white pumpkins sprinkled throughout the patch.
Guests can also venture into 18 acres of corn lined with more than 6 miles of pathways and try to find 10 checkpoints in each of the mazes. With that acreage, family member Mandy Kirkendall said it is the largest corn maze in Arizona.
Visitors are given a sheet of paper with 10 questions, each one pertaining to checkpoints in the maze. At each given checkpoint, maze-goers read a question. Depending on their answer, they take either the right or left path. "People love the passports that you get with the different questions on them," said Kirkendall. Some people don't get a "passport" with hints giving the correct way to go. They just want to wander and get lost in the maze, which is fine, too.
Last year was the first time the Holcomb family added a corn maze to the festivities. To create the maze, the Holcombs came up with a design together, then sent it to a company in Utah. With company and family working together, they created a workable design. Then, they sprayed the corn when it is about 3 inches tall, killing the corn in the designated path.
After the October festivities are over, the corn is harvested for feed.
Including field trips and weekend visitors, the farm had about 50,000 visitors last year, and Kirkendall said they are well on their way to topping that amount this year.
Apple Annie's Produce and Pumpkins
Directions: Take I-10 East to exit 340, turn left, travel 11.5 miles. The pumpkin patch and corn maze will be on your left.
Hours: 9 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. through Oct. 31.
Prices: Hayride: $3 per person, children 2 and under are free.
Corn maze: $7 for adults, $5 for children 3-11 years old, children 2 and under are free.
Combination maze and hayride: $9 for adults, $7 for children 3-11 years old, children 2 and under are free.