I have a bunch of kids, so of course I have been to my fair share of pumpkin farms.
The annual fall experience that every parent is familiar with - hay ride, pumpkin picking and a stroll through the corn maze - is just a small portion of a growing industry called agritourism.
Agritourism is defined as any agricultural activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch, and North Carolina has hundreds of these operations.
Last month I was given a copy of Diane Daniel's book "Farm Fresh North Carolina" and it has opened my eyes to the fun to be had in our state.
Of course, there are lots of berry picking and pumpkin farms. And visiting the wineries has been on my list of things to do for some time.
But I cannot tell you how excited I was to learn that there are dozens of more exotic opportunities for the curious.
I recently spent a couple hours at "The Little Herb House" in southern Wake County. It was heavenly. The proprietress, Lisa Treadaway, has created an agritourism business completely around herbs.
At her garden and gift shop you can buy dried herbs for your kitchen and herb plants for your garden, you can take a guided tour of her eight themed herb gardens, and you can browse her selection of hand blended teas, bath and body products, essential oils and assorted garden items.
She also offers classes, workshops, dinners and lunch or tea for small groups.
After reading "Farm Fresh North Carolina" I have a whole list of places I want to visit. Tops on my list is a trip to the Saxapahaw Rivermill Farmer's Market. Daniels describes it as "unlike any other farmer's market in the state. It's held in the evenings, bands perform, and alcohol is allowed."
This sounds like my kind of Farmer's Market. Daniels says it's more like a "Farmer's Party."
While I am in Saxapahaw maybe I can stop at Cane Creek Farms to see the rare Ossabaw pigs they breed. I'd also like to visit an alpaca farm, tour a truffle farm, attend a wine festival, see the 500 Lavender plants at Bluebird Hill Farm in Chatham County and enjoy a dinner on the porch at Elodie Farms in Durham County.
Plus, I want to visit the other herb farms in the area and take my goat-loving friend Ellen to visit a goat farm.
And I definitely want to go back to The Little Herb House.
Now I am going to give you a tip, and this is a good one - maybe even better than buy low and sell high. I have been a parent for more than 22 years, and for some crazy reason I am always taking my kids along with me to visit places that sound like they will be fun for the whole family.
What has finally dawned on me, after more than two decades, is that young people and grown ups do not view these experiences the same way.
We took five of our kids to the Grand Canyon a few years ago. Their ages ranged from 10 to 23. After 15 minutes of looking into the canyon, all five kids were ready to move on to something else. I wanted to just stand there and take in the magnitude of what I was looking at.
This is what happens pretty much everywhere you go. Unless you go to some place with video games.
So my advice to you is to pick a farm to visit, but leave the kids at home.
Make it a romantic date, or invite friends or your bridge club.
That way you can linger over a beautiful plant, admire the breathtaking scenery, ask all the questions that come to mind and, of course, browse the markets and gift shops.