Stepping on to the grounds at Partin Ranch and Corn Maze is a bit like stepping back in time. It’s hard not to get caught up in the feelings of nostalgia and simple charm as you spy children climbing in a giant oak tree in the middle of a pumpkin patch. The only hint that it’s 2017 is the dozens of parents trying to capture the perfect photo on their iPhone.
Partin Ranch, just south of St. Cloud Florida, is a working cattle ranch 11 months out of the year. Each weekend in October it opens to the public as a corn maze. But there is much more to see and do than just the maze itself. I had heard a lot about Partin Ranch in years past, but had never made the trip. Determined not to miss it again this year, I gathered up the troops and we made the hour drive west. I am so glad I did!
Admission is reasonably priced at $10/adult; $8/child and it included almost all of the activities. The ranch boasts two corn mazes – a large 5-acre maze provides a challenge for older guests, while the mini corn maze let the preschool set get in on the fun without being overwhelmed. Admission also included a hayride, rides on the barrel train, a bounce pillow, a giant corn box, and even a kiddie zip line. Riding on a pony or on top of a working combine will cost you a bit extra.
From the moment you walk towards the front gate, you get the feeling that you are a part of the Partin family. Family and close friends staff all of the activities and are happy to chat about living and working on the ranch. Even the youngest family members are out helping, cheerfully handing out high fives and telling guests all about the animals they raise.
We started in the “Country Kids Playground” where the mini-excavators fascinated Miles and Mia climbed in a giant spider’s web. They might have stayed right there for hours. Instead, I convinced them to try the zip line before it got too crowded.
The zip line, designed with young children in mind, was one of the highlights of our trip. They had two lines and lots of helping hands getting kids into harnesses, up the platform, and catching them at the end. The line was short enough that Miles rode a couple of times, but then he spotted the combine.
Riding atop a real working combine cost extra, but Miles was so excited I couldn’t say no. The kind lady taking tickets suggested I put Mia on my lap and only charged me for two riders. The ride was wild and bumpy, and Miles loved every second of it.
After all that excitement, we took some time to climb on some tractors, ride the barrel train, and dig in the giant corn box. Then we decided to explore the mini corn maze. The corn maze was just tall enough that the kids felt lost in the stalks. But it was short enough the adults could see over them and keep an eye on their wanderers.
Next, we stopped to see some of the farm animals while we waited for our turn on the hayride. The hayride was a lot of fun. The driver told us a bit about the operations of the ranch as we rode. He also stopped to let us all feed some cattle along the way. The cows were surprisingly gentle as the kids fed them pellets and pet them. The only drawback to the hayride was the ranch hand’s description of the farm to table life of the poor cows. Our littles were too young to understand, but it may upset older kids.
The farm was amazingly clean. Even the port-a-potties on site were the cleanest I have ever been in. That’s important when you are traveling with two three-year-olds! The Partin family obviously thought a lot about how to provide the best possible experience for their guests. Little touches, like steps near the games so little ones could reach on their own and benches set under the shade, make the day just a bit better.
Our crew had such a great day we already declared the Partin Ranch trip to be a new October tradition. In a world that sometimes seems like it’s spinning too fast, it’s nice to pause for a couple of hours and enjoy some old-fashioned fun with family and friends!
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