September is a bittersweet time of year, when hot evenings start to get a little shorter and a little crisper, and changing leaves start to drop. Sure, saying goodbye to summer is tough, but the pleasures of autumn rarely arrive too early. Summer might have ice cream and beaches, but fall means apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and of course, getting lost in a corn maze.
If your last visit to cut a pumpkin off the vine was in your own childhood, prepare yourself, because things have changed. Farm visits have had a renaissance since then, adding a slew of activities to the menu. As for corn mazes, today they’re often the main attraction, and it’s not hard to see why. Mazes are designed so their trails depict everything from Curious George to figures of Greek mythology to the Vitruvian Man. Farmers across the world have jumped on the bandwagon, designing huge, over-the-top corn mazes packed full of interactive challenges.
The joy of these mazes is simple: they take you outdoors for an adventure with friends or family, in beautiful autumn weather. Many of these mazes have multiple courses for different skill levels, often depending on which clues they give, meaning children can play without getting overwhelmed, but teens and adults can challenge themselves.
While these mazes are old-fashioned, low-tech fun for everyone, the process of making them isn’t either. It can take months, and a lot of creativity, to settle on a theme and design for a maze. That drawing will be laid out in a computer design program and then plotted against a grid so the farmers know exactly where to cut through the cornfield. It’s a lot of work and time-consuming, but luckily farmers can outsource. Companies, like Maize (styled MAiZE), help farms get their corn maze off the ground—or out of it, that is—by offering design and cutting services.
So, get lost: here are ten over-the-top corn mazes the whole family will enjoy.
Cherry Crest Farm––Ronks, Pennsylvania
At Cherry Crest corn maze there are three levels of challenge. The first takes about 20 minutes, with help from trail markers, and the second about 45 minutes. If you’re up for putting your skills to the test, go for the full maze and expect to spend about two hours searching for all the clues along the way. This year’s corn maze theme is ‘Man on the Moon,’—to really keep on-theme, come back in the evening to do it by moonlight (and flashlight).
Cornbelly’s––Spanish Fork, Utah
Cornbelly’s was started by corn maze pioneer Brett Herbst, who now runs Maize, and has been going strong for 24 years. This delight includes the main maze (last year’s theme was ‘Greatest Cornman’), a train ride through a candy corn maze, a small and simple children’s version, and a nighttime haunted corn maze.
Long and Scott’s––Mount Dora, Florida
The Sunshine State is better known for orange groves, but this working farm grows corn, cabbage, and cucumbers. The corn maze is only one of a handful of options on offer at Long and Scott’s—there’s also the labyrinth and mist mazes, and a 60-foot slide into a sandpit.
Cool Patch Pumpkins––Dixon, California
Cool Patch takes its name from the pumpkin side of the business, but don’t be fooled into thinking corn is an afterthought. This farm has the distinction of holding the Guinness World Record for being the largest temporary corn maze.
Happy Day Farm––Manalapan, New Jersey
At Happy Day Farm, you can roam through three miles of maze on 10 acres, with designs focused on anniversary themes like John Deere’s 100th birthday, or Curious George’s 75th. The aim here is to collect squares for your ‘maize-o-poly’ board, and families with little ones have the option to take the shorter path.
Amazing Acres––Edwardsburg, Michigan
Kids will have a literal field day at this 90-acre farm. Amazing acres advertises nearly 50 activities, including oversized tricycle racing, an apple cannon, and a covered wagon play structure. The farm also has two corn mazes, designed with this year’s theme of superheroes and unicorns in mind.
Vermont Corn Maze––Danville, Vermont
Twenty-four acres, 10-foot-tall corn stalks and more than three miles of trails mean you should expect to spend more than two hours finding your way through this winding maze. For children, there’s a shorter version, and both options include an underground tunnel.
Treinen Family Farm––Lodi, Wisconsin
Treinen Family Farm is a child’s paradise, with tractor tire playgrounds, slides, and a hayfort. The maze takes about 45 minutes to complete, and before you head out, climb up the ‘observation tower’ for a look at the pattern (last year’s included a giant elephant). Teams get a blank map and find clues in mailboxes along the way.
Queens County Farm Museum––Queens, New York
Sick of getting lost in between buildings? You don’t need to go far to get lost in between corn stalks instead. ‘The Amazing Maize Maze’ is made up of puzzles and clues that lead city slickers through three acres of path at New York City Landmark Queens County Farm Museum.
A-Maize-ing Farms––Mayfield, Kentucky
With a name like A-Maizing-ing Farms, it’s no surprise that they’ve claimed the honor of Kentucky’s largest corn maze. There are three levels of challenge here, as well as a giant bounce pillow, hayrides, and pumpkins.