Four pumpkins sit on a disposable plastic table cloth on the dining room table. The dirt from the pumpkin patch has already been wiped off and kids are anxiously waiting for Mom and Dad to cut the tops off so they can start carving their jack-o-lanterns and other designs.

But then it happens. The top of the pumpkins come off and the kids realize that the inside of each pumpkin is full of stringy guts and seeds — and it doesn’t just dump out. They have to scrape it and risk touching those orange and slimy insides. Suddenly pumpkin carving has lost much of its appeal.

I know that was the scene my parents dealt with year after year. Even though I was dreading the process of cleaning out my pumpkin, I did it anyways just for the experience of going to the farm to pick it out.

Some years, we would get our pumpkins from the grocery store, but it just wasn’t the same. At the store there’s no corn maze to trek through, no dirty field to wander around looking for the perfect gourd and, most importantly, no freshly made caramel apples on a stick.

I’m sure that many of you agree — the pumpkin patch visit is an essential activity each fall. I know this because every year during the month of October, our pumpkin patch guide is the top hit on our website. You can head to our full list of patches in and around central Arkansas, but here are a few of our favorites to get you started.

Happy pumpkin picking!

BoBrook Farms in Roland

Explore a charming sunflower maze, jump on a hayride and visit with farm animals at this farm near Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Kids can peruse the 12-row pumpkin patch, where some of the pumpkins are left on the vine for families to cut themselves.

The pumpkin patch is open Sept. 29-Oct. 28 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $7 per person.

Motley’s Pumpkin Patch in Little Rock

Visit the pick-your-own pumpkin patch, country store (hello, caramel apples!) and a petting zoo full of goats, chickens and pigs. Kids can also climb on a hay bale mountain and take a tractor-drawn hayride.

Motley’s is open Sept. 29-Oct. 30 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $8.95 plus tax.

Mary’s Place Pumpkin Patch in Bryant

Take a hayride and explore this patch in Bryant! There's also a maze, a 24-passenger train and a treehouse for kids to check out.

The patch opened Sept. 20 and hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Admission is $6 per person to explore and $9 per person includes a pick-your-own pumpkin.