Halloween in the LA area can be so different from other places. Typically we have the Haunted Hayride, a Ghost Train Experience, and all of the theme park experiences. And that’s only scratching the surface on Halloween in LA. I am so proud of the businesses that are finding new ways for us to continue to celebrate and enjoy seasons and holidays during a difficult time. Tanaka Farms in Irvine is offering a “U-Pick” and drive-thru pumpkin experience.
History of Tanaka Farms
If you are unfamiliar with Tanaka Farms, I would love to give some information about the history. Farmer Tanaka is a third-generation Japanese American. From 1977 to the 1990s he packed, sold, and distributed tomatoes and strawberries across the country. After bringing his son’s preschool class to tour the farm it sparked the idea of farm tours. This is the only family-run farm in Irvine that hosts educational and “U-Pick” tours. They now grow over 60 different types of fruits and veggies!
Drive-Thru Pumpkin Experience
I wanted to come to the farm for the opening weekend of the drive-thru pumpkin patch so that I made sure I wouldn’t miss out. The drive-thru experience is only offered on Saturdays and Sundays. However, if you cannot go on the weekend you can participate in their “U-Pick” experience.
What can you expect with the drive-thru pumpkin patch? The distance of your experience is 1.5 miles. They ask that you don’t drive faster than you can walk. There is stuff to see and people who interact with you and of course picking your pumpkin (that can make your experience anywhere from 30 mins to over an hour). My visit was around 50 mins in total.
When you check-in, you’ll be given a scavenger hunt. I was busy trying to get video and photos to recap this experience so I didn’t pay too much attention to the scavenger hunt paper. I didn’t realize until the end that by completing the paper you’ll be entered to win a prize. If I had known that I probably would have gone even slower so that I could do it.
Your drive gives you a mini-tour of the farm with a look at some of the plants. There are several signs with information about the farm and some of the plants that they grow along the path. Your first “stop” is someone giving you pumpkin seeds and providing some information about what you’re seeing.
Next, there is the pumpkin alley. Several painted pumpkins are lined up opposite from where the strawberries grow. You’ll need to be on the passenger side of the car to get the best view.
After the end of pumpkin alley is your next stop. Here you’ll get candy corn. As you drive further the next main thing that you’ll see is the first few scarecrows.
Tanaka Farms is hosting a scarecrow contest and you can vote online for your favorite. My boyfriend and I made Marty McCrow as a tribute to the film, “Back to the Future”. If you do vote, we would really appreciate your support! Please note that Marty is one of the last scarecrows you’ll see so he’s closer to the end. You can vote here
There are two areas where you can pick your pumpkin. If one is too crowded I would just recommend parking on the other side. You are able to get one pumpkin per person. There are no size restrictions, you can have any pumpkin that you can carry. They have white, green, and orange pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.
Originally, if you signed up for the drive-thru experience someone was going to pick the pumpkin for you. They have made an exception and at least for the time being everyone can get out of the car to pick their own. It was really fun getting to walk around and find the right one.
Once you get back in your car you’ll see more scarecrows before stopping at a photo op. We had a lady offered to take our picture. I was a little hesitant to hand someone my phone but then I saw she cleans it before handing it back to you. This was a really nice moment! And they tell you that you can take your masks off for the photo if you want.
Next, you’ll drive by tomato plants and sugar cane lane. At the end of the lane, you’ll see Tanaka Farms spelled out with pumpkins. Then you’ll see the rest of the scarecrows. It is really fun to see how creative everyone got. And making the scarecrow was a blast but definitely a challenge.
Near the end of the experience, you get to see some animals. We were assigned lane 2 so there were goats and piglets on the driver side and a donkey and chickens on the passenger side. After that, if you would like food from the Tanaka Grill they tell you which way to go. You will also pass by a stand where you can purchase more pumpkins, Halloween decor, or food to take home with you.
I am so thankful for businesses that are making it work with the way we have to do things right now, and I will continue to support as many of these businesses as I can.
The pandemic has lead to many changes in my life. When I felt nervous to go to the grocery store or really anywhere, I turned to Tanaka Farms. They were offering a curbside produce stand which meant that I got to get delicious fruits and veggies in a way that I felt safe. This farm became a lifeline for my family. I am so thankful that I found this place.
Looking for a place closer to you? Depending on where you live in LA it might be more convenient to visit the Underwood Family Farms