WHO: Samantha Fernandez and daughter, 21-month-old Sadie
WHAT: Gentry Farm, 1974 Hwy. 96 W., Franklin
WHEN: Thru Oct. 29: Mon 9 a.m. - 12 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sun 1 - 5 p.m.
INFO: 615-794-4368 | gentryfarm.com

We may be weeks away from the first frost of fall, but moms (and kiddos) across Middle Tennessee are busting out their boots, taking that flannel out of the wardrobe and setting their sights on pumpkin purveyors across the area. But which one can claim the title of perfect pumpkin patch?

FRANKLIN'S LANDMARK PUMPKIN PATCH

If Gentry's Farm isn't near the top of your list, then I'm telling you it should be. This family-owned farm has been a Franklin landmark for decades. Visitors today are still treated like members of the family. Why has it become the go-to for fall?  The magic of Gentry's Farm is in its simplicity: it's an authentic, affordable, "one-stop shop" for family farm fun.

With more than 20 activities to choose from, Gentry's Farm is well worth the $8 admission price; ages 2 and younger are free (as well as seniors 65 and older), so bring the whole family!  A number of the farm's activities are geared toward middle school and younger ages. However, visitors of all ages will still enjoy the magic of timeless fall classics like hayrides, walking trails and the impressive corn maze. The lines for the hayride can be long — I advise heading for that first. On the hayride, you'll get an "up close and personal" view of the cows and learn history behind the historic farm. Our whole family enjoyed the hayride, and my 21-month-old, Sadie, loved the "Munchkin Maze," a corn maze geared toward children 3 and younger.

FUN FOR THE YOUNGEST IN YOUR FAMILY

For the farm's youngest visitors, there's a dedicated toddler section to play and ride toy tractors. There's a larger-than-life barn filled with activities like a play restaurant, log cabins and a train set. My toddler relished playing "Farmers' Market," so I have to give kudos to the folks at Gentry's Farm for helping me make vegetables fun!

As the autumn day's fun continued, our crew headed to the animal area and made friends with turkeys, bunnies, chickens and goats. The animals are not for petting, but their barnyard antics are on display to be viewed from a safe distance. All this fun worked up a farm-sized appetite, so we headed to the snack bar and checked out a menu that included popcorn, pumpkin bread and other small treats. If you're looking for a lunch spot, I suggest a heartier meal before or after your visit, but the light snacks offered at Gentry's Farm are reasonably priced, and the lines move quickly.

MOM TIPS

Parking is free, but I do recommend getting there right at opening to guarantee a good parking spot. If you think you may be arriving later, plan to bring a stroller or wagon if you need to carry your little one, because it could be a long walk.

Gentry's Farm has thought of everything a family would need for a day of fun. You'll find a clean atmosphere, activities for all ages and even a diaper-changing station.

The magic of fall won't last forever — get to Gentry's before it closes on October 29 and all those pumpkins turn back into carriages!