A farm that offers tours of their strawberry patches, pumpkin patches and watermelon fields. Call ahead for reservations and tour times. Each tour consists of a tractor ride and time to pick your own fruits.
We've been to Tanaka Farms several times with our kids as they went through the toddler and preschool years. Just being on the farm truck ride was a big hit. Adults and kids had fun trying out the different fruits and veggies on the drive, but of course the best part is stuffing yourself with ripe strawberries and packing your own clamshell! If you're dirt/germ conscious, bring a water bottle or thermos to dip your strawberries into before popping them into your mouth (yes, my wife is that kind of mom).
Also they have a little farm stand at the waiting area so it's a great option for buying fresh, organic produce.
Our family visited Tanaka Farms for their pumpkin patch in 2012. We chose to go on a Friday afternoon/evening to avoid the weekend crowds (even though we missed out on some weekend only activities, such as the pumpkin cannon and pumpkin bowling...) The pumpkin patch was expansive and felt very natural. I was amazed at the expanse of land in the middle of the city. This is not a shopping center pop-up pumpkin stand! Wagon rides for $5/person take you on a tour around the farm. The corn maze (free) was probably my boys' favorite activity. You can also visit the petting zoo for $3. If you chose to buy a pumpkin, the cost is by weight. This is the perfect pumpkin patch to catch those fall photos!
What’s not to like about seeing how fruits and vegetables grow right on the farm? The Tanaka family has been farming for some 100 years and this 30-acre location features 40 different types of vegetables, plus fruits like strawberries, watermelons and honeydew.
What left the biggest impression on me about our tractor-led tour is the effort Tanaka Farms makes to teach you about their farming processes (all organic, by the way). We learned natural ways to fend off bugs, how to tell when a watermelon is ripe and why certain vegetables are grown next to others. (For instance, we learned that squash and zucchini are grown amongst corn to hide from them from the bugs.)
Best of all, each tour includes plenty of fresh-from-the-field taste testing. I watched my 5-year-old devour carrots, corn, zucchini, watermelon and more like it was Halloween candy.
About 45 minutes into our tour, we stopped at the watermelon patch. We weren’t able to pick any for ourselves; field experts had already selected the ripest for our choosing.
But we were able to walk through the fields and take a close up look at the watermelons growing, which was a real treat.
The farm generates most of its income from these tours, so I feel good about where my $13 fee per person is going.
Farm tours are available year round; watermelon tours run in July and August only. Tours lasts about 1 ½ hours, which includes a stop for taste testing several yummy fruits and veggies, plus perusing the watermelon patch. The Farm’s Produce Stand is open daily year round with fresh produce for purchase.
A few planning essentials: Parking is plentiful and free. There are no flush toilets, but several portable potties are available near the Produce Stand; another is located in the fields adjacent to the watermelon patch. No restaurant facilities are available, but you are welcome to enjoy your own lunch under any of the tented areas.
My biggest piece of advice? Be prepared for the heat! July and August in Irvine are hot months. Come prepared with hats for everyone, sunscreen and more water than you think you’ll need.
Explore a real working farm (one of the few left in the Irvine area) on a tractor-pulled tour!
Whether you go to Tanaka Farms during strawberry season, watermelon season, or otherwise, you will learn about the other produce grown on the farm, taste fruits and vegetables fresh from the soil (cleaned off, of course), and end up picking your own featured fruit or vegetable to take home with you. Well, last time we went we could pick all the strawberries we could eat, but the provided the basket of strawberries to us at the end for us to take home.
The farm uses organic methods, which is a plus even if you want to purchase produce without taking the tour. But, I guarantee that your kiddos will probably love it as much as mine does each time we return!
Just be sure to work around nap times because tours are scheduled and morning tours on weekends fill up fast.
Of all the tours one can take, I believe strawberry picking is our favorite! When my son was 6, we rode the wagon to the strawberry fields, stopping along the way and tasting the veggies that the wagon master picked for us to taste. We tried purple carrots, celery, broccoli, and onions. My son's face lit up when he tasted cilantro and has a love of it ever since. He now is the family salsa maker and loads it up with cilantro. Watching my little kids eat mouthfuls of fresh picked strawberries brought a smile to my face, as well as to my taste buds too!
The pumpkin patch is also fun, but we have found that Octobers in Southern CA can be incredibly hot, which leads a heaviness and difficulty to the whole pumpkin patch picking. That's probably the only reason I prefer the strawberry picking.
I have wanted to take a stroller on the wagon, but that isn't allowed on the wagon tour, so plan for a baby backpack, sling or to have little ones walk.
This is a great family-run farm with lots to offer throughout the year.
The pumpkin patch is lots of fun with a corn maze, petting zoo, games and a wagon ride. You can even pick your own pumpkin from the vine if you'd like. Great photo opps with the kids!
We've also gone for the watermelon tour. Everything on the farm is organic. While on the tour you get samples of the seasonal veggies as you ride the wagon around the farm. Our son was so proud of the watermelon he picked at the end of the tour! =)
We'd love to come back for the strawberry tour and the cookout tour where you get to walk around the farm and pick your own veggies, prep, cook and eat it right at the farm. Sounds oh so good and oh so healthy at the same time!
We have been here for various events throughout the year.
Pumpkin Patch - I've been twice, it was so much fun both times. Not only do they have a huge pumpkin patch to walk to, but there are wagon rides over to an area with a petting zoo, more pumpkins, games on the weekends, and food. There is a fee to hop on the wagon, but it's minimal. there is also a vegetable patch.
Strawberry Tour - they do this in the spring and it is so much fun. You hop on the wagon, sample fresh veggies and fruits along the way, then get off and fill a pint with strawberries, while eating all you can for 15-20 minutes. My toddler loved this and we had the best day.
Watermelon Tour - this is during the summer. Same concept as the strawberry except you only pick one watermelon. And it's hot! We had a great time though, and they provide shade along the way.
My favorite of all is probably the strawberry tour, but I love strawberries!
We went to Tanaka Farms for the pumpkin patch this year. It is as rural as you are going to get in Irvine. the farm is surrounded by homes but it is quite large and a nice escape. I thought they overcharged for their tractor rides and petting zoo but the experience itself was fun. My favorite part was where the kids could pick their own veggies. This isn't something you see every day and its a great way for kids to put together the concept of their food coming from the ground. I plan on retrurning for their Strawberry tours and Watermelon tours because they sound like alot of fun.