Autumn at the Arboretum

Dubbed Pumpkin Capital USA, Floydada farmers grow over 15 million pumpkins each year. To celebrate the bountiful harvest, Floydada hosts Punkin Days the second weekend in October.

Did you miss Punkin Days?  Never fear, you can still see 65,000 Flyodada pumpkins and assorted squash at the Dallas Arboretum.

Fall colors.  Autumn is ideal for exploring the arboretum. During the seasonal, Autumn at the Arboretum, pumpkins line the walkways, North Texas Ramblings Pumpkins Dallas Arboretumhay bales anchor 10-foot tall arrangements of plants and squash, and mums burst with color in the floor beds.  Who knew, squash came in so many different shapes and colors.

Pumpkin Village. Be sure to check out Pumpkin Village, a series of storybook cottages with pumpkin facades.  I’ve never seen so many pumpkins in one place before. Designed after pumpkin-themed children’s stories, kids love exploring each of the playhouses. And of course, there is Cinderella’s carriage pulled by straw horses! On the outskirts of Pumpkin Village, you’ll find more hay bales, this time outlining a two-foot high maze, ideal for the littlest of explorers.

Especially for kids. During Mom and Me Mondays, and Tiny Tot Tuesdays, Pumpkin North Texas Ramblings Pumpkin Village Dallas ArboretumVillage rocks!  In addition to exploring the storybook cottages, youngsters can feed goats at the petting zoo, get their faces painted, and participate in Kindermusik activities.

Details:  Autumn at the Arboretum runs September 20 through November 26.  Mom and Me Monday and Tiny Tot Tuesday activities are held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Dallas arboretum is located at 8525 Garland Road, Dallas.  The Dallas Arboretum is open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More on the arboretum…..

Big Orange Pumpkin Farm

It’s pumpkin time!

North Texas Ramblings PumpkinIf you are looking for a Fall family outing, why not try the Big Orange Pumpkin Farm. While it’s not far from north Dallas suburbs, the Big Orange Pumpkin Farm is far from busy highways and strip malls. Located in rural Celina, a trip to the farm makes for a relaxed, low-key afternoon in the country.

The Big Orange Pumpkin Farm has a little something for everyone. Kids can feed the farm’s goats, chickens and longhorn cattle. Your admission also includes a hayride around the farm’s perimeter. For an additional fee, children (and small adults) can ride the train (a tractor with barrels made into train cars). Try your hand at lassoing a “longhorn” sawhorse in the roping corral or find your way through the maze. While the pumpkins are not grown on the farm, the little ones will still enjoy picking out their pumpkin from the patch.

Be sure to bring your camera. The farm is a great spot for family picture taking.

Details. The Big Orange Pumpkin Farm is open seven days a week through November 2. Admission is $8. Weekday admission includes a feed cup for the animals, hayride and a small pumpkin. Weekend admission includes feed cup, hayride and hot dog. The Big Orange Pumpkin Farm is at 5518 County Road 126, Celina (972-382-4995.

Fossil Rim

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is an ideal family day trip. Once a hunting ranch stocked with North Texas Ramblingsexotic animals, Fossil Rim is now a nationally recognized conservation center located southwest of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. This unique park offers North Texans an opportunity to go on safari without ever boarding an airplane. Spanning 1800 acres near Glen Rose, the sprawling complex is home to over 50 species. Wildebeest, zebras, and giraffe roam over land resembling the Serengeti, just with a few more rolling hills than the African version.

The drive. A scenic, nine-mile drive allows you to observe the animals up close from the safe confines of your car. Be sure to purchase a food sack at the visitor’s center. You’ll make instant friends with the long-necked ostriches and the ever greedy addax who seem to take turns stopping vehicles for handouts. There are fallow deer, Thomson’s gazelles, kudo, and bongo. The park’s antelope herds are nothing short of impressive.

Fossil Rim offers several ways to enjoy the preserve and its inhabitants. The self-guided drive is the most common way to see the park. Visitors must remain in their vehicles but are welcome to stop anywhere along the drive to feed the animals. Each vehicle is restricted to one food bag, but that is enough to make countless two and four legged friends along the way. Expect to take a minimum of two hours to travel the circuit. Stop at the Overlook, the drive’s halfway point, for lunch with tables available for picnickers. I recommend a visit to the Overlook Café for both the Fossil Rim Burger and the awesome view.

Guided tours. For an even closer look at the animals, try one of many guided tours. The Behind the Scenes tour is available daily and other specialty tours occur on a scheduled basis. My family went on the Discovery After Dark, a monthly tour. An open-air vehicle took us through the park at dusk. We learned about Fossil Rim’s successful cheetah and white rhino breeding programs, fed the shy bongo and were delighted when a giraffe stopped by for dinner – there is nothing quite like a giraffe eating out of your hand!

Details. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a not-for-profit organization and member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The center is involved in Species Survival Plan® programs for over a dozen species including rhino, oryx and zebra. Fossil Rim is also engaged in SSP programs for North American animals too like the wolf and our own Texas Attwater’s prairie chicken. Located at 2155 County Road 2008 in Glen Rose, the wildlife center is open daily. For more information, visit their website at fossilrim.org.