Playground Talk’s Guide to Apple Picking

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(Photo courtesy of Sono Bella Photography)

 

Apple picking seems to be the quinessential start to all things fall. We’ve done all the research for you and compiled a list of some of the best apple picking in the area for those who live in Bergen/Rockland County or close to it. Make sure to check websites for updates on hours, admissions, events etc. Now, on to some fall fun!

New Jersey Locations:

Alstede Farms (84 Route 513 (Old Route 24, Chester) – Alstede Farms is the whole shebang of farm fun so it’s worth the drive out to Chester. They even sell wristbands! They have hayrides, a hay pyramid, wagon rides, a corn maze, a corn kingdom, pony rides, moon bounce, a farm store and a large variety of pick-your-own. Don’t forget to go home with their homemade fudge. This is the type of farm you go to if you want a ton of activities for the kids!

Demarest Farms (244 Wierimus Road, Hillsdale) – You can’t beat this location. Hello apple picking in Bergen! Homemade donuts and apple cider are also offered at the farm store.  *Note, pumpkin picking doesn’t start until mid-September.

Heaven Hill Farm (451 State Route 94, Vernon) – There are tons of activities to keep families busy for the whole day here! Their Great Pumpkin Festival includes hay rides and over 30 activities: Corn Maze, Farm Animals, Hay Maze, Spider web crawl, Monster Sling Shots, Barnyard Sports Ball-cade, Hay Crawl, Corn Boxes, Bee Barn with Glass Bee Hive,Visiting Farm Animals, Boo Barn, Chicken Little Show, Chick Barn, Dancing Robot Show, Duck Racing, and more!

Riamede Farm (122 Oakdale Road, Chester) – This farm has more than 34 varieties of apples on 35 acres of land. Hayrides are available (on weekends) but are not necessary to pick apples. In October, the hayrides will bring you to the pumpkin patch (which is “walkable”). This farm boasts that the “apples are well within the reach of children”.

Sun High Orchards (19 Canfield Ave, Randolph) – This farm seems to be a bit of a hidden gem. Complete with a variety of pick your owns, a farm store, animals, pony rides, farm tours, pickable flower garden, and hayrides. It doesn’t seem to have the hoopla of the bigger farms out in Morris County but offers enough to make the drive worth while.

Terhune Orchards (330 Cold Soil Road, Princeton) – 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.

Abma’s Farm (700 Lawlins Road,Wyckoff, NJ) – Note that they don’t offer apple picking but do have pumpkin picking. This local farm is located in a peaceful, wooded setting, this is another nice option in NJ. 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! Click here for Lauren’s Post on Abma’s in the fall and pics of the pumpkin patch.

 

New York Locations:

Fishkill Farms (9 Fishkill Farm Road, Hopewell Jct, NY) — This farm is one of the only orchards in the region to offer apples that are grown according to organic standards (though they are not certified). All their fruit is low-spray and they are certified sustainably grown by Eco Apple. They carry most of the major varieties and there is a store as well as hay bales that the kids can climb on. As it says on their website, “We’re a real farm and not a theme park, so we don’t offer all the bells and whistles of some “agri-tainment” establishments.” Their cider donuts were delicious and we eagerly ate our fill.

Lawrence Farms Orchards (39 Colandrea Road, Newburgh, NY) – Open 9am to 7pm, seven days a week. Last year I heard a lot of families at my son’s preschool were going to this farm. Supposedly they have a Little Village with cute houses the kids can go into. There’s an indoor maze and carriage rides on the weekends. There are Macoun, Jomac, Aceymac, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Empire varieties. They serve hot dogs, pizza, coffee, etc. as well.

Masker Orchards (45 Ball Road, Warwick) – This 200 acre orchard has been operating for over 100 years! There are plenty of attractions for the kids (barnyard baby animals, pony rides and wagon rides) but don’t miss the country store and the breathtaking views of the entire Valley. We like that admission, parking and bags are all FREE.

Ochs Orchard (4 Ochs Lane, Warwick) – Best known for their spectacular views, be sure to pack a picnic lunch and eat at the gazebo at the top. You can also find a small petting zoo, pick your own flower garden, farm market with tables to eat at and homemade ice cream. Bring a wagon for the kids or be prepared to walk a bit to the orchard. Check out Andi’s post on strawberry picking at Och’s and photographing your kids.

The Orchards of Concklin (2 South Mountain Road, Pomona) – This orchard has a lot for the kids to do on the weekends – bouncy house, haunted house, a slide, and Jurassic Adventure. Be sure not to miss their famous apple cider donuts. They do not offer hot food for lunch, though there are lots of restaurants on Rt. 202 (we hit the nearby diner). No pets or picnics permitted.

Pennings Orchard (Route 94 & Warwick Turnpike, Warwick) – This orchard is packed with things to do – a farm market and bakery, garden center, Harvest Grill & Brew Pub, ice cream stand and barn yard buddies for the kids. Pennings is the perfect place to celebrate fall for children both young and old.

Warwick Winery (114 Little York Road, Warwick) – This winery is a great way for the entire family to enjoy a fall day. Picnic in the orchards or eat at the bar/restaurant while listening to live music and sampling their wines. Bring a football and toss it around in the open fields. Plus, it’s pet-friendly, so bring your dog! (This is a big hit every year for Lauren’s family and their favorite place to go apple picking).

Weed Orchards (43 Mount Zion Road, Marlboro) – There is so much to do at this orchard you could spend the whole day. Take the old-fashioned wagon through the orchards, eat at a picnic table near the lake, taste the hot apple cider donuts in the bakery section of the farm market or get lost in the pirate themed corn maze. Plus, don’t miss the kids activities – petting zoo, face painting, craft tables, sand art and hay maze.

 

TIPS – FIND OUT BEFORE YOU GO

1. Prices – Each farm charges differently (admission per person, bags, apple pickers, wagon rides – some even sell wristbands for attractions).

2. Check hours – Some farms are closed during the week or have specific hours for pick-your-own.

3. Check on specific apples – Not all types of apples will be ready to pick, call if you’re looking for a specific type.

4. How close are the pick-your-own? – How far away are the picking spots? If you bring a wagon, will you be able to pull it to the picking spot? Do they have a “shuttle” to the picking spot and if they do, is it a hayride?

5. Do they allow pets?- Many do not.

6. Can you bring food into the farm? – Many do, just be sure before you pack a whole picnic!

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