Dating back to ancient times, mazes provide a contemplative, often spiritual pursuit, immersing visitors in nature while offering a mysterious sense of progression akin to life itself: You move forward without knowing exactly where you’re going. They were especially popular in Britain in the 18th century, with the famous Hampton Court Palace maze—created in 1690 and still standing—leading the way for a century’s worth of elaborate hedge paths that presented not only a challenging puzzle to solve but also a place for privacy. Today, the United States is home to a number of mazes, many with traditional hedges but also quite a few made of cornstalks planted in different arrangements each year. Below, a few of our favorites.
Pineapple Garden Maze
This three-acre attraction on Hawaii’s Dole pineapple plantation–less than 25 miles northwest of Honolulu–features 2.5 miles of paths created from more than 14,000 native plants. One of the country’s few permanent botanical mazes, it features eight hidden stations for visitors to find—aided by an app that tracks their times—all leading up to the grand centerpiece, the oversized namesake tropical fruit. While there, don’t miss a ride on the Aloha Express vintage train, which whisks guests throughout the grounds.
Richardson Farm Corn Maze
Spring Grove, Illinois
Each year, Illinois’ Richardson Farm creates a new design for its 28-acre corn maze, the largest in the world. Recent themes have included the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing and a tribute to the Chicago Bears, and this fall’s iteration is a celebration of the 50th Earth Day, complete with a sun, flora and fauna and of course the planet itself. On October 3, Richardson Farm hosts its annual Prairie State Half Marathon, 10K and 3.5-mile run, where enthusiasts compete among the stalks.
Happy Day Farm Corn Maze
Manalapan, New Jersey
Voted one of America’s top corn mazes by USA Today, this 10-acre New Jersey institution has been delighting fans for years with changing themes including Marvel’s Avengers, John Deere tractors and the adventures of Curious George. Located about 40 miles north of Newark, Happy Day incorporates an additional game element with Maze-O-Poly, whereby visitors collect squares on a gameboard in hopes of earning the most cash and becoming “Farmer of the Ear.” Meanwhile, by scanning a QR code on a post, guests will be located by the farm’s personal satellite and sent a photo showing where they are in the maze.
Cool Patch Pumpkins Corn Maze
As its theme for 2020, California’s Cool Patch maze is creating a tribute to America’s first responders. But this unique fall attraction is more than just a place to wander through the stalks. For almost 20 years, it has offered a variety of family-friendly seasonal activities, from hay rides and pedal cars to a you-pick patch featuring a variety of pumpkins, squash and gourds. On the weekend, guests can also indulge in tri-tip sandwiches, hot dogs, pumpkin pie and kettle corn.
The Garden Maze at Luray Caverns
New Market, Virginia
Situated at the site of the largest caverns in the Eastern United States, the Garden Maze is comprised of more than 1,500 evergreen hedges that stretch out over half a mile, with twisting paths that split at 40 points along the way. Also on the grounds are a Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, featuring an 1897 Mercedes-Benz and a Rolls-Royce once owned by Rudolph Valentino, as well as the time-bending Shenandoah Heritage Village.