This year has meant all sorts of canceled plans and modified traditions, but residents can enjoy the perks of the fall season with a variety of family-friendly events that won’t hurt your wallet — and you won’t have to drive outside of the Santa Clarita Valley.
From picking out the perfect pumpkins to catching a ride on a farm train or checking out the latest public art pieces, families have several budget-friendly options that keep COVID-19 safety guidelines in place and allow children and parents a chance to create memories that can last a lifetime.
Visit a pumpkin patch
What better way to welcome fall festivities than by visiting local pumpkin patches, such as at Gilchrist Farm and Bennett’s Best, which are both located in Saugus.
Some features will not be offered this year, including slides and games at Bennett’s, but you can still stop by to search from a variety of traditional and specialty pumpkins and gourds.
If you’re looking for a longer outing at a pumpkin patch consider a wide range of activities Gilchrist Farm is offering this year, including wagon rides, archery, ax throwing, pumpkin slingshots and farm visits.
“Normally, we have a giant maze, but not this year due to COVID,” said Monica Gilchrist, owner of the farm. “But we still have a lot more for families to do and a great assortment of wonderful pumpkins.”
If you’re planning on visiting the farm over the weekend, don’t forget to preorder from one of several food truck vendors via bestfoodtrucks.com/gilchristfarms, she said, adding that farm visits are by appointments.
In offering more spacious pumpkin patches for visitors to spread and safely enjoy themselves, both locations are implementing COVID-19 safety guidelines, such as requiring staff and guests over the age of 2 to wear face masks at all times, sanitizing all shared spaces and equipment and encouraging people to frequently wash their hands and avoid visits if they feel sick.
Bennett’s Best’s Valencia location will not be open this year but its Saugus lot, located at 27000 Bouquet Canyon Rd. is open from 7-days a week. For more, visit bennettsbest.net.
Gilchrist Farm is also open all week and is located at 30116 Bouquet Canyon Road. For additional information, visit gilchristfarm.com/pumpkin-patch.
Immerse yourself in the local arts
October is National Arts and Humanities Months, meaning it’s time for the city of Santa Clarita’s annual ARTober celebration, which offers free arts and humanities events that are free or budget-friendly.
“Although the coronavirus pandemic may have changed the way many ARTober events are presented this year, it has not stopped the city’s Arts and Events team from developing an engaging and innovative schedule of exciting festivities,” read a recent city news release. “Online, residents can watch modern plays during The MAIN’s Stage on Screen Theatre Fest, or tune into a lively panel discussion on different art, music and film topics during the Arts Virtual Symposium sessions presented by New Heights.”
Among the many events is the return of You’re The Best — albeit in a virtual mode, of course. The free, “not-your-average” talent show on Oct. 19-23 will feature seven new acts, virtual trivia and a themed show. Participants will have a chance to vote for their favorite performance.
This month will also feature a new public art dedication ceremony scheduled virtually on Oct. 15. California Scape is a new permanent sculpture that is centered around a young elm tree expected to grow over time and offers space for a person to sit in and reflect or meditate while surrounded by nature. The art piece is installed at Fair Oaks Park, located at 17468 Maple St. in Canyon Country.
The ceremony can be viewed via Facebook Live. For a link, which has not yet been released, and to find out about other upcoming events visit santaclaritaarts.com/artober2020. For viewing and additional information, visit facebook.com/themainnewhall.
Head to Scarecrow Alley
Don’t have Halloween plans this year? Consider stopping by the city’s Scarecrow Alley, a free, public viewing at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex on Oct. 31 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The event is part of the city’s contactless drive-thru Haunted Highway experience where residents and businesses partake in a community contest by creating their own scarecrows and have them featured for the viewing.
Those who would like to participate can enter the contest by Oct. 19.
To learn more and access the entry form, visit santa-clarita.com/scarecrow.
Trek through miles of open space
The Santa Clarita Valley offers miles of trails to plan a family nature hike, such as the Whitney Canyon Park, Towsley Canyon Park and the Elsmere Canyon Trailhead.
Try visiting new trails and make the trek a fun one with a nature-themed bingo game. Find bingo sheets online or create your own by adding fall-related items like orange and yellow leaves, acorns and fuzzy critters.
For more information on the city’s trails, you can visit santa-clarita.com/residents/hike-santa-clarita.