Does your idea of a fun hayride involve a scenic ramble through a pumpkin patch behind a gentle draft horse … or a terrifying journey where danger lurks around every bend? Whatever your preference, these 8 hayrides are sure to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Haunted hayrides

There’s something about bare trees, dark skies, and a full moon that can make the most bucolic landscape seem sinister. These hayrides will ensure you’ll never look at a shadowy forest or rustling cornfield the same way again.

1. Los Angeles Haunted Hayride — Los Angeles, CA

Through October 31

According to legend, there’s a curse hanging over LA’s Griffith Park, which might explain the many claims of ghost sightings and spooky experiences. The old, abandoned Griffin Park Zoo would be eerie enough even without the paranormal tales — so it’s a perfect place for a hair-raising hayride. Completely new this year, the 25-minute trail winds past creaking old cages and shadowy lairs, putting you right in the clutches of the Boogeyman.

2. Headless Horseman Hayride — Ulster Park, NY

Through November 7

Set on a 250-year-old farm in upstate New York, this hayride and haunted house consistently wins awards for quality. A scream-team of 350 actors and technicians dial the scares up to truly theatrical levels. (Watch this video for a behind-the-scenes peek.) The theme changes each year, and this year’s theme, “Fortune Telling,” lets guests watch their terrifying future unfold before their eyes.

3. Jason’s Woods — Lancaster, PA

Through November 7

This attraction in rural Pennsylvania has been scaring the wits out of locals for 30 years. To celebrate, they’ve expanded their Horrifying Hayride to twice the length of last year, making it the longest in the country. As you wind through dark woods and a junkyard filled with sharp, twisted metal, you’ll be pursued by creatures from your childhood nightmares and the ghoulish results of diabolical experiments.

4. Dead End Hayride — Wyoming, MN

Through November 1

This attraction is only 5 years old, but what they lack in longevity, they make up for in scare-factor. Taking you through 40 acres of woods on the misleadingly peaceful-sounding Pinehaven Farm, the hayride itself is only the beginning. After being dropped at the gates of Sunny Vale Asylum, you must make your way along the Departed Oaks Haunted Trail and through the Site 66 haunted cornfield before returning to safety. It’s interactive, too, which means the actors are allowed to touch you (appropriately, of course — maybe just a friendly, long-nailed hand on your shoulder).

Family-friendly hayrides

If you prefer your hayrides with songs and cider rather than chainsaw-wielding psychopaths, these options are perfect for kids of all ages.

5. Pumpkinland at Linvilla Orchards — Media, PA

September 12 through November 8 (Autumn Moon and Witch’s House Hayrides through October 30)

This 300-acre farm in the scenic Delaware Valley is open all year round, but during harvest time, it transforms into Pumpkinland with all kinds of old-fashioned fun such as apple slinging and a hay bale maze. Families can choose from 3 different hayrides: a daytime, 20-minute Harvest Hayride through the orchards, an Autumn Moon Hayride under the night sky (and ending at a campfire), or a Hayride to the Witch’s House, where the friendly witch will entertain kids with jokes and stories, followed by a marshmallow roast.

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6. Craven Farm — Snohomish, WA

Through October 31 (hayrides and Night Owl Corn Maze weekends only)

This family farm’s 20-acre pumpkin patch is the oldest in the region, and their Fall Festival is chock-full of family activities. Take a hayride through Minionville, where kids can watch for and count Minions to win prizes, and then enter a secret corn maze open only to hayride guests. After the ride, families can make their own scarecrow, check out a fun 3-D Adventure where the murals on the walls of the barn come alive, or stick around for a non-scary nighttime exploration of the farm’s other 15-acre corn maze.

Horse-drawn hayrides

Hayrides behind a tractor are good fun, but a truly classic experience requires a wagon pulled by horses.

7. Papa’s Pumpkin Patch — Bismark, ND

Through October 24 (hayrides Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday)

Papa’s has been a Bismark tradition for 33 years and attracts some 50,000 visitors annually. A horse-drawn hayride across the prairie is just 1 of 20 family activities, including Slide Mountain (where slides of varying lengths are set up on a stack of hay bales) and a mini zip line just for kids.

8. Treinen Farm Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch — Lodi, WI

Fall Festival runs through October 31 (hayrides Friday through Sunday)

Why buy a pumpkin from a store when you can pick your own? And why walk or drive out to the pumpkin patch when you can take a hayride behind a pair of big, gentle Belgian draft horses? Choose your pumpkin from the 14-acre field on this third-generation family farm and then try to solve their 15-acre corn maze, which was named one of the country’s best by USA Today (this year’s maze has an Aesop’s Fables theme).

Now that you’re in a harvest-time mood, you might want to check out these other fun fall activities. And whether you’re out on the road or at home greeting trick-or-treaters this Halloween, make sure your home and car are well protected with the right insurance plan.

Haven’t had enough chills and thrills? Read about the most haunted houses and highways around the country.

Think you may be living in a haunted house? Find out.

Travel hacks

about Ellen

Ellen has spent many years as a professional wordsmith, helping to shed light on such topics as world travel, cargo pants, and the porosity of bath tiles. As a freelance copywriter for Esurance, she brings her boundless curiosity to the world of insurance. Outside work, she can be found cheering on the San Francisco Giants, hiking in the Oakland hills, and (barely) resisting smuggling penguins home from Antarctica.