You know a place is worth visiting when the whole family gets covered in poop, and you still have nothing but good to say about it.
Conner’s A-Maize-Ing Acres in Hilliard is the perfect place for motley crews of infants, toddlers, or bigger kids, no matter how wild they are. Yes, you’re all likely to get dirty as you tromp through the corn maze, take a hayride and inadvertently step in one of the cow manure piles on this working farm. But you’re also likely to see your child genuinely having a blast in the old-fashioned, Americana sense of the word.
The farm opens to the public each fall for about a month-and-a-half. It also takes on field trips and parties throughout the year.
My son was in a particularly rambunctious mood when we showed up to Conner’s Acres one Saturday morning. We went straight to the corn maze, where he was able to walk off all that energy wandering up and down the paths that wind through the corn field.
I had wondered if this maze would be a bit too complicated for a 3-year-old, but Conner’s has a great system. They offer different levels of “passports” to help you find your way through the maze. For little folks like my son, the passport had very basic questions like, “What type of vegetable is used to make popcorn?” Pick “corn” from the multiple choice answers, and the passport directs you to take a left at marker #3.
The corn was also low enough that my husband, who is under 6 feet tall, could see where we were going. And the flow of the maze is intuitive; you can pretty much guess where you need to go when you’re ready to get out.
The maze is also easy to navigate with a stroller. The dirt paths between the rows of corn are wide and smooth, and we had no problem rolling our 6-month-old little diva all through it.
The maze is the highlight of the farm, but there are lots of other features. They have a pedal cart track, animals, playgrounds, rubber ducky races, horseshoes, volleyball, hayrides and a “cow train” made up of adorable little black and white cars. There are “corn boxes,” the equivalent of sand boxes, but loaded with a half ton of dried corn kernels. There is a General Store, a series of food stands and a pumpkin patch. One thing that is missing: a restroom facility. Conner’s only has portable bathrooms, but it does have separate hand-washing stations.
We took a hayride that started out great, until we realized my son had stepped in a huge heap of manure just before he climbed aboard. As he kicked his poopy feet on the hay bale he was sitting on, he managed to send manure flying onto my leg, his own rear end, Daddy’s shorts, and – sadly – the only designer handbag I’ve ever owned. (I know… what was I thinking bringing that bag to a farm, anyway?) Since everything is outdoors, though, it wasn’t a big deal; we were able to wipe off as best we could and then continue exploring and having fun, covered in manure or not.
My son loved everything, but he especially flipped for the Kiddie Korral, a fenced-in play area designated strictly for children ages 4 and under. It has small playground equipment, huge tires, and – best of all – a fleet of ride-on toys. One minute my little man was digging in a sand pile with a bulldozer, the next he was making his way across the korral on a pale pink tractor.
There are generous wooden benches and swings throughout the property, and sheltered picnic tables large enough to suit any size group.
The food was very good and practical for picky kids: hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, that kind of thing. They also offer some more specialized foods, like huge plates of funnel cake, bags of boiled peanuts and barbecue dishes.
It is a bit of a drive to get there if you live anywhere outside of Hilliard. Pay close attention to your directions and don’t lose heart while you’re driving through miles and miles of nothing but trees. When you arrive, you’ll find the place buzzing with activity.
If you go:
- Conner’s Acres is at 19856 County Road 121 in Hilliard. It’s typically open in October and part of November.
- Call Conner’s at 904-879-5453 or check the website at www.connerscornfieldmaze.com for current hours and admission rates.
- Conner’s recommends visitors bring the same type of supplies you’d take for any outdoor activities: sunscreen, bug spray, hats, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and of course a camera.
- They generously allow members of the military in for FREE any time, and dependents get $2 off.