While springtime offers cherry blossoms and promises of renewal, autumn is something special. As the temperature cools and the days get shorter, we gain an appreciation for stepping outside without breaking into a sweat or grabbing a heavy coat.
There are multiple locations around the D.C. area where families can go and enjoy the fruits of fall; as well as a number of haunted attractions for bigger kids filled with the spirit of Halloween.
Cox Farms in Northern Virginia celebrates its 40th anniversary with hayrides, food, pumpkins, entertainment, animals and more.
"There's something for everyone," said Ryan Mauter, who handles marketing and communications for Cox Farms and has known the family for more than a decade.
After opening as a fruit stand in Herndon, Cox Farms moved to Centreville. In 1983, the family started giving hayrides to friends, who suggested they do so for the public. Now Cox Farms is a destination for families from throughout the region.
"We get people from all over," Mauter said. "It's an escape back to a simpler time."
On weekend evenings, Cox Farms opens Fields of Fear, complete with activities from the Dark Side Hayride to the Cornightmare. The spooky fun is more suited for teenagers or older.
Mauter said that the opening and closing weekends are less busy at Cox Farms, with the middle weekends of October busier.
"The spirit has totally set in and it's a great time to come out to the Fall Festival," he said.
Info: Fall Festival $14 to $16, Fields of Fear $13 to $19; coxfarms.com
When: Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily beginning Saturday; Fields of Fear Friday and Saturday evenings beginning Friday
Burke Nursery: Check out the Fall Festival and Pumpkin Playground featuring fun for the whole family. Info: Daily; $9 to $12; burkenursery.com
Montpelier Farms: A corn maze, hayrides, animals, pumpkins and a "football lounge" where you can watch the games on Sunday in Upper Marlboro. Info: $10 for adults, $8 for children; Friday through Sunday, through Nov. 4; montpelierfarms.com
Summers Farm: A corn maze, pumpkin patch, pig races and something called "farmer golf" are just a handful of fun things at this Frederick farm. Info: Daily; $6.50 to $10; summersfarm.com
Ticonderoga Farms: Pumpkins, slides, animals and a teepee village are a few highlights in Chantilly. Info: Open daily; $8.95 to $14.95; ticonderoga.com
Field of Screams: See how the utopian society Dream City becomes Scream City in Olney. Info: Multiple options, including the Trail of Terror for $20; screams.org
Fright Fest at Six Flags: The theme park comes alive -- or undead -- with spooky thrills at night. Info: Weekends beginning Saturday; $35; frightfest.sixflags.com
Markoff's Haunted Forest: Two trails, zombies, a zip line and more, near Poolesville. Info: Opens Oct. 5; $20 if purchased online before Oct. 1, $25 after and $30 at the door; markoffshauntedforest.com
Nightmare Screamplex: The Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds takes a dark turn. Info: Opens Friday; $15 to $25; nightmarescreamplex.com
Terrorville: This is what happens if you let your paintball park go. The zombie rumble, zombie laser shoot and zombie paintball shoot look like fun alternatives to the same old, same old. Info: Opens this weekend; $5 to $15; hauntedterrorville.com
The Warehouse Project: An urban haunted house in Rockville. Info: Days vary, opens this weekend; $30; hallowinc.com