Pumpkin Patches and Festivals near D.C. Serve Up Fun with Nutrition
Pumpkin picking is upon us throughout the greater Washington, D.C., area and this season there’s no shortage of places to find the perfect bulbous orange gourd of your dreams.
Whether carving a jack-o'-lantern for Halloween or decorating your front porch, pumpkins are always in fashion this time of year.
It's good to know, though, that their value is more than skin deep, as these colorful vegetables are packed full of nutrition.
Just ask your local nutritionist or dietitian. They'll be happy to explain.
"Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds not only are high in nutrition, but they are also delicious in recipes," says nutritionist Patricia Slusher with the highly rated Wellness Pathways in Leesburg, Virginia. "Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas as they are often called, may be lightly roasted for a great, healthy snack."
How Many Calories are in Pumpkin?
And a cup of cooked pumpkin "contains only 49 calories," she adds.
That same cup also delivers more than 200 percent of your daily intake of vitamin A. Pumpkins also are rich in carotenoids (that’s what gives them their orange color) which is great for eye sight and a good choice for vitamin C.
But the vitamins and minerals don't stop there.
"Pumpkins are rich in potassium," says Christine Haas, a nutritionist with the highly rated NuWeight Nutrition and Personal Training in McLean, Virginia. "Low potassium is associated with a risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke."
Eating enough potassium, she says, can help decrease blood pressure.
All that's reason enough to bake a pie in celebration.
Still, your kids may not be impressed. Nutrition aside, pumpkins are the center of any fall festival in the countryside of suburban Virginia and Maryland.
For those who like a little more action that just gourds galore, check out these five places where pumpkins are only the start of the fun.
Butler's Pumpkin Festival is held weekends through October, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. You can pick pumpkins, take a hayride or check out a hay maze.
In addition to lots of food and drinks, there are arts and crafts.
This weeklong festival starts September 27 and concludes on November 4. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
In addition to the pumpkin patch, there will be farm animals, straw tunnels and even a goat village all spread out over 90 acres.
Ticonderoga's pumpkin picking continues now through the first week of November, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Look for a fun zone, tunnels, a giant jumping pillow and a humongous xylophone. Plus, hillside slides and hayrides.
Throw in a corn maze with your pumpkin picking at Zekiah. Open every weekend in October, 10 a.m.-dusk, you can expect seasonal produce, a farm store and even a straw pit the whole family can enjoy.
Burke's annual Fall Festival and Pumpkin Playground runs every day, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. through October. Highlights include pirate- and western-themed activities, Native American storytellers and farm animals.
Tumbling tubes, rope swings, clowns and magicians round out all the pumpkin-plus events.