One of my favorite family traditions is apple picking every fall. It is near the end of the season for apples, but you can still go pumpkin picking at one of these great farms. Over the years, I've gone to a few local spots that are winners. They each have their unique attributes and have something special to offer the apple enthusiast. I would recommend bringing some bottled water and a paper towel to wash your apples or one of those fruit sprays they sell at Whole Foods would do, too, since kids want to eat what they pick.
Demarest Farms. 244 Wierimus Rd; Hillsdale, NJ. 10 am to 4:30pm (weekends). This farm is very conveniently located right off Exit 168 on the GSParkway North. The only downside is that the store and line for the tractor ride is right on a busy road. A bit dangerous. They also had a small maze near the store. They make their cider donuts fresh so you have hot donuts to look forward to during your visit.
On the weekends it is $5 for the hayride and $7 for a pumpkin. It can get crowded on the weekends. As of Sept. 28th all apples have been harvested already. Squiggles the clown is available for face painting.
Abma's Farm. 700 Lawlins Road; Wyckoff, NJ. Located in a peaceful, wooded setting, this is another nice option in NJ. When we went last year they didn't have apple picking anymore but it is similar where you wait for a tractor/wagon to take you to the apple picking area. There is a pretty large farm area where you can see various farm animals and pet them and do pony rides. The pumpkin patch is also nicely arranged with quirky pumpkins of all sizes all in a circle. It's nice to sit on one and take pictures. The smell of fresh donuts is all around, as well!
Alstede Farms. 85 Route 513, Chester, NJ. This is the farm to visit if you want tons of activities for the kids. A 10 acre corn maze, hay pyramid and bale tunnel, pumpkin and apple picking, pony ride, wagon train ride, moonbounce and farm animals. The corn kingdom, pony rides, moon bounce and wagon ride have small fees attached. You can also get an unlimited all day pass, see fees here: Link here.
Sun High Orchards. 19 Canfield Avenue, Randolph, NJ. We went a few weekends ago and we had a great time. The rows of trees are nicely labeled in the middle of the farm and there was a great variety to choose from. The apples also were $1.50/lb so very reasonable. Pony rides were around $7 and there were farm animals your kids can feed and touch. There is also an outdoor tented area where you can picnic. I especially liked that it wasn't too crowded. I just wish there was a moonbounce or something a little extra for the kids.
Applewood Orchards. 82 Four Corners Road; Warwick, NY. 9am to 5pm. We went around 3 years ago and I still remember that we got terribly lost. It is a bit tricky to find this orchard, but with GPS it could be alot better now. When we did get there, though, we had a great time. This store is more extensive and they actually serve hot food like chili and hot dogs so you can have some warm food during lunch. You can check their web site for the apples that you can pick and they have an extensive variety.
The activities for kids is very extensive–puppet shows, cute cutouts you can stand behind, hayrides, etc. Link here. Before you set off I would make sure you check their directions tab and see if your GPS will pick it up.
Orchards of Concklin. 2 South Mountain Road; Pomona, NY. 10am to 5pm. This farm was only about half an hour from me in Rockland County. I put a request out on Twitter for a farm that was less commercial more naturally rustic and Hudson Valley Magazine recommended this one. They have a store near the street and you drive back to get to the pick your own area. We had a choice of either Red Delicious or MacIntosh. We picked RD. You get a bag and head over to your side. The trees were practically bursting with apples which the kids could easily pick. It's not as nicely mowed between the trees so you do have very grassy areas. It was nice that it wasn't so dusty and the kids could fall anywhere without injury.
It was also around $1.50 per lb which is cheaper than a lot of pick your own. They do not allow picnicking in this farm (don't know why). By the store they have rides on the weekend–a nice inflatable slide and bouncy castle that my kids loved. There was also a haunted house and a crawl through inflatable that my kids didn't go near. The donuts were not hot but claimed to be freshly made. They were pretty good and the apple cider was awesome! There is no hot food for lunch, though there are lots of restaurants on Rt. 202 (we hit the nearby diner). It was a nice weekend spot if you don't like to navigate huge crowds. You do have to pay for the rides though it isn't much. Link here.
Maskers Orchards. 45 Ball Road; Warwick, NY. I've never been to this farm but many schools and families I know go here so it must be very kid friendly. Admission, parking and bags are free. Apples cost $24.95 per 1/2 bushel (around 20 pounds).
Terhune Orchards. 330 Cold Soil Road; Princeton, NJ. This is a great family farm that is chock full of activities for families: pony rides, barnyard animals, theme story barn, corn stalk maze, etc. Their bakery and produce section are pretty extensive. There is also hot food on the weekends (chili, soup, hot dogs). Live music adds to the festive air.
Set in an open field, the trees are actually "dwarf trees" so that kids can easily pick from them. I wasn't too crazy about it, though, because they seemed more like shrubs than trees. I guess your kids won't know the difference though!.
You can check their website to see what's in season that week and avail for picking. They have a great variety. Link here.
Don't forget to bring sunscreen as it can get pretty sunny out in the fields! Your kids will love being outside and helping mommy pick apples. And the pictures always come out nice, too. So enjoy and tell me about your favorite spot!