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Fall Splendor on the Farm

Deal's OrchardNow that the weather is cooling off, it’s a great time to take the family to one of Iowa’s many agricultural destinations — whether that’s a place to pick out pumpkins, get lost in a corn maze, or try your hand at milking a cow. Check out some of these farm destinations:

Heartland Acres Agribition Center, Independence. Roam through agriculture’s past, present and future in this 16-acre museum. See antique tractors,vehicles and seed displays, and pick up a few items in the gift shop. Admission charged. Visit www.heartlandacresusa.com, or call 319-332-0123.

Hawkeye Buffalo Ranch, FredĀ­ericksburg. Take a guided tour of buffalo herds and learn about the relationship between buffalo and Native Americans. You’ll be transported by pickup or wagon to feed buffalo by hand. Admission charged. Visit www.hawkeyebuffalo.com, or call 641-229-6701.

Hansen’s Dairy, Hudson. Feed farm animals, milk a cow, and try the dairy’s fresh ice cream, made on site. Also, the dairy features a couple of kangaroos and wallabies for visitors to check out. Admission charged. Visit www.hansendairy.com or 319-939-2187.

John 15 Vineyard, Scranton. Based on the Bible verse, “I am the vine and you are the branches,” head here for all things grape: jams, jellies, pies, juice and fresh grapes. Lodging in the vineyard’s treehouses is also available. Visit www.john15vineyard.com, or call 712-652-3760.

Bloomsbury Farm, Atkins. One of the largest pumpkin patches in east-central Iowa also includes a 10-acre corn maze (with flashlight tours in October), along with hay rides, pumpkin cannons and more. Admission charged. Visit www.bloomsburyfarm.com or call 319-446-7667.

Calico Skies Winery, Inwood. This northwest Iowa winery comprises 5 acres of vineyards and includes free samples of its wines. Fall events include Sunday afternoon live music and murder mystery dinners throughout the season. Go to www.calicoskieswine.com or call 712-753-2110.

Iowa’s Dairy Center, Calmar. OpenĀ­ed in 2000 to train young people going into dairy farming, the center milks 260 cows three times a day and provides tours to the public. You may see a calf being born, watch the robotic milkers or pet a calf in the calf barn. Go to www.iowadairycenter.com, or call 1-866-474-4692.

Deal’s Orchard, Jefferson. If apples are your thing, Deal’s is the place to indulge. More than 25 varieties of apples are sold, along with pumpkins and other seasonal fruits and vegetables. You can also pick out your Christmas tree for the upcoming holidays. Go to www.dealsorchard.com, or call 515-386-8279.

Strawberry Hill Dairy Goat Farm and Garden, Strawberry Point. Be a farmer for a day and visit a goat farm that also includes rabbits and llamas. Gather eggs, feed the goats and tend the rabbits. Admission charged and reservations required for tours. Go to www.strawberryhillstrawberry.com or call 563-920-4531.

Two Saints Winery, St. Charles. Stroll among the footpaths at this south of Des Moines location, passing the pond and overlooking the vineyard. A tasting room and gift shop complete the experience. In the winter and spring, the winery offers Wine 101 courses. Go to www.twosaintswinery.com or call 515-396-2102.

Van Kooten is a freelance writer from Pella.