Take Your Pick at Homestead Farm

Last week, as Owen and I were planning our visit to see the sunflower bloom, and I mentioned that it was near Homestead Farm in Poolesville, MD, he suggested we do some berry picking, too. I thought that was a great idea to make the most out of the 45-minute drive, not to mention fruit fresh off the farm is always a treat.

Fields of blackberry dreams

Homestead Farm is where we’ve done most of our PYO (pick your own) outings over the years. In fact, it was where we brought Owen for his very first pumpkin patch experience when he was a baby. (Though let’s be real… that probably was more for us than him at that time.) Since then, we have picked much more — strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, tomatoes, apples, and more pumpkins. We’ve been on our own and with school field trips.

Owen’s very first visit, mostly about the photo op

Younger years on a hayride

Gonna eat me a lot of peaches…

It’s not just the PYO (and photo) ops that make Homestead a great outing. There are also farm animals to visit, and the kids always love seeing the pigs, chickens, and goats — even better when the catch them on one of the goat walks. They also offer hayrides out to the pumpkin fields during the fall, and you can purchase more fresh fruits and veggies in the market. A pretty pastoral setting is the backdrop for all of this. It makes for a nice few hours escape from the city.

The lovely landscape

Animal lover making some friends

Blackberries are in season now, and Owen and I filled a box of them (which our family then polished off within a couple of days). They should be available for a little while longer, and next up are apples, several varieties of them.

Plenty of berries ripe for picking

The fruits of our labor

There is a $3 picking fee, but that’s deducted from the cost of fruit you pick to bring home. Bring along a picnic lunch, which you can eat in a pavilion next to a pretty patch of zinnias. And in the fall, save room for caramel apples and cider!

Apples up next!

Homestead Farm is located at 15604 Sugarland Road, Poolesville, MD. Hours are 9am – 5pm daily when the farm is open. The PYO season begins in late spring with strawberries and lasts through fall for the pumpkin festival. I always recommend checking the website or calling ahead to be sure the pickings are good that day.

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Filed under All ages, Animals, DC, Eats, Fall, Farm, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Spring, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: July 24-28

Plenty of blackberries for the picking at Homestead Farms

Monday – Stay cool and have fun at a pool, sprayground, or water park. The Summer in DC guide has links to the many places around the DC-Metro area where it’s all about getting wet — and you can consider this for any day of the week! But if staying cool means avoiding the outdoors altogether, check out The Great Indoors list of more than 90 ideas for adventures inside. Hours and admission varies by locale.

Tuesday – Go over the rainbow and beyond at Watkins Regional Park. The adorable Wizard of Oz themed playground will have little ones frolicking for hours. Be sure to stop by Old Maryland Farm to visit the animals and spend time at Watkins Nature Center to view even more cool creatures and birds, then hike the nearby trails. Go for a spin on the carousel, take a ride on the miniature train that winds through woods, and play mini golf. Park hours are dawn to dusk, 9am – 4pm at the Farm, and 10am – 5:30pm at the Nature Center. Admission is free, but rides and mini golf are a small fee.

Wednesday – See the sea of sunflowers at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, MD. The sight of thirty acres of bright yellow blooms stretching gloriously through the fields will make your day! Plus, admission is free. Plan to pair the outing with some blackberry picking at Homestead Farms, located just a few minutes away. Bring along some lunch to eat in the covered pavilion, and make time to visit the farm animals there, too. Hours are 9am – 5pm. Admission to the PYO fields is $3/person, but it’s deducted from the cost of the berries you pick to bring home.

Thursday – Go bowling! Take advantage of Kids Club Bowling at Pinstripes in Georgetown. From 10am – 12pm Monday – Thursday, kids can bowl for $3/hour ($3/shoe rental) and parents are free (limit 4 kids per adult). Eat while you bowl or stay after for lunch — they have a good kids menu and a pretty extensive main menu, too. Afterwards, head down Wisconsin Avenue to Georgetown Waterfront Park to play in the spray fountain and enjoy some outdoor time along the Potomac.

Friday –Make it a mission to visit the International Spy Museum, where you and the kids can go undercover to explore the intriguing world of espionage. Hours are 9am – 7pm. Regular admission is $21.95/adult, $14.95/ages 7-11, free for 6 and under, but you can find a discount on adult tickets here.

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Filed under 2017, All ages, Animals, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Farm, Free, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia, Weekdays

Scenes from the Sunflower Bloom at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area

I’m no horticulturalist or anything, but I loves me a beautiful flower bloom. It’s not just the dramatic vistas they create as brilliant bursts of color stretch across landscapes; something about the annual recurrence — the concept of renewal — is at once comforting, uplifting, exciting, and hopeful. (Why, hello, my inner cheeseball.)

This was the first time we went to see the sunflower bloom at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, MD. I’d actually never heard about it before and have the Montgomery County Tourism Office on social media to thank for the heads-up this year. It was one of their Instagram posts that alerted me to the peak dates, which are right now through next weekend.

So, this bloom is amazing! The thirty acres of tall yellow flowers is such a happy sight, like a big congregation of smiling emoji sunshine faces. It was a crazy hot day when Owen and I went to see it, but I’m so glad we braved the temps. We didn’t stay too long, about 20-30 minutes, but it was enough time to take in the sublime scene. I recommend wearing hats, close-toed shoes, and sunscreen, and bringing along a bottle of water.

I couldn’t find an exact address for McKee-Beshers, but put the location in my phone GPS and followed the route. It led us to a small parking lot just off River Road, and a sign there confirmed we were in the right place. (There’s no admission, just park and head to the fields.) It’s just a few minutes down the road from Homestead Farms, so I recommend planning a visit there, too, to make the most of your time while you’re out that way. We did some blackberry picking and enjoyed a picnic lunch that we brought along. Just make sure you go soon, because the bloom (and blackberries!) won’t be there for much longer.

The first glimpse beyond the trees

There’s some room to walk among the flowers, just be careful you don’t hurt the plants

A shorty among the tallies

The flip side…sunflowers turn slowly throughout the day, so they’re always facing the sun

Matching bumble bee

Stop and smell, though there’s not much of an aroma

Rising high

Sunflower close-up

Still in the bud stage

Go see them…and have your camera ready!


Filed under 2017, All ages, Annual, DC, Free, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend