How to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin in Sturgeon Bay

Fall is a beautiful season in Sturgeon Bay…and far from boring. Between driving on winding roads framed with vivid orange and gold leaves, harvesting a bushel of apples, and heading out to a patch for pumpkin picking in October, there are plenty of activities to enjoy.

But many don’t realize that there’s more to finding the perfect pumpkin than simply seizing the first to catch your eye. Why not pour yourself a cup of warm cider and allow us to explain?

3 Steps to Perfect Your Pumpkin Picking Skills

More likely than not, you know that our favorite seasonal gourd can be used in a variety of ways, but were you aware that there are over 40 different types of pumpkins to choose from?

Each have distinct characteristics that lend themselves to specific uses, and not all can be found at your run-of-the-mill patch.

But don’t worry – we’re here to help you discover your ideal pumpkin, beginning with these three simple steps.

3 Steps to Perfect Your Pumpkin Picking Skills

1) Determine Your Desired Outcome 

Planning to carve a jack-o-lantern? Looking forward to scrumptious culinary creations? Simply want a festive decoration?

Pumpkins are the essential produce of fall. Whether you are heading to the patch for one or more of the above reasons, it’s wise to consider how you plan to enjoy your pumpkin ahead of time to help guide your picking experience.

A few of our favorite pumpkin uses are:

  • Halloween & harvest décor
  • Carving or painting
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds
  • Soups
  • Pumpkin butter
  • Pies & pastries
  • Smoothies & lattes
  • Exfoliating masks
  • Scented candles 
Types of pumpkins

2) Scrutinize for Signs of Ripeness

How do you tell when a pumpkin is ripe? It depends on what you’re looking for since large pumpkins are better for carving, while smaller varieties are better for baking and decorating. However, there are a few general ripeness tips to keep in mind.


You probably already do this. Whether you want a bright orange, pale white, or forest green pumpkin, make sure its coloration is fully developed for the type of pumpkin you’re looking for. This is a telltale sign of its maturity.


The hardness of a pumpkin’s skin can also indicate ripeness. Gently try to puncture it with your fingernail as a practical test. If you can make an indent without puncturing the skin, the pumpkin is ready to be picked.


Another technique is to thump your pumpkin on the side and listen closely to the sound it gives off. If it makes a resonating hollow noise, that means the pumpkin is ripe.

This is especially useful when searching for a model carving pumpkin.


A soft stem is a good way to determine that your pumpkin is too young and likely still growing. What you want to feel is a firm and dry stem to ensure its ready for plucking.

Pick Your Patch Wisely

3) Pick Your Patch Wisely

 It’s actually somewhat rare to find a pick-your-own pumpkin patch in Door County, but we happen to have one right here in Sturgeon Bay – among other ways to bring one home.

For the best pumpkins in the area, we recommend:

  • Malvitz Bay Farms – The only true pumpkin patch with a pick-your-own experience in our area, the family-owned farm offers a variety of pumpkins as well as additional fruits/vegetables. Just a 15-minute drive from downtown Sturgeon Bay, you’ll find pumpkins of all shapes and sizes ripe for the plucking.
  • Choice Orchards – A popular local producer of cherries, apples, as well as a laundry list of other homegrown products, Choice Orchards provides pumpkins for sale as soon as mid to late September. It’s also very close to Bay Shore Inn – only a 5-minute trip by car.
  • Wood Orchard – Another well-established local grower, Wood Orchard has a fantastic food market featuring fresh produce and pumpkins. The orchard, itself, is located just outside of Sturgeon Bay, so they make our list. The market, however, is situated 25-minutes north of Bay Shore Inn in Egg Harbor.
  • The Farm – One of the more unique places to pick up a pumpkin is The Farm located 10-minutes east of Bay Shore Inn. Open through mid-October, this charming attraction offers interactive exhibits on rural farming and local heritage that allow kids of all ages a chance to engage with the animals. They also have pumpkins for sale, making it a great place for families to visit.
Now That You’re an Expert…Come Pick a Pumpkin (or Two) in Sturgeon Bay!

Now That You’re an Expert…Come Pick a Pumpkin (or Two) in Sturgeon Bay!

If you’re planning a fall getaway to Door County, be sure to view our rates and availability at Bay Shore Inn.

We know a thing or two about relaxation. For generations, we’ve helped to provide quiet, comfortable autumn weekends away for families and couples alike.

Give us a call to learn more about our restful suites at 800.556.4551!