Farms & U-Pick

Best Apple Picking Orchards and Farms Near NYC

Starting around Labor Day weekend and continuing through the fall, orchards around the tristate area offer families the chance to pick their own apples. Many also host cool kids' attractions, including hayrides, petting zoos, bouncy houses and corn mazes. Some even sell home-baked treats.

While there was a time when apple trees thrived in NYC (ever wonder how Orchard Street got its name?), city families today need to head out of town to pick their own fruit. While there are plenty of wonderful apple orchards in the Hudson ValleyNew Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut, many are quite a long drive, and we know nothing derails a fun family outing like a stressful commute. So we've rounded up a dozen places to pick your own apples that are an hour or less from Midtown Manhattan by car. A few are even accessible by train.

Just Peachy: Best Pick-Your-Own Peach Farms in New Jersey

The first sight of peaches in the supermarket always assures me that spring has arrived. Inevitably, I give in to temptation and bring a few home only to find that the fruit isn't yet juicy or sweet. By August, a good peach offers us a multi-sensory eating experience with a distinctive smell, taste, and that wonderfully messy drip. Of course, the fruit is even yummier when you and your kids pick it yourself. The Garden State has plenty of orchards to visit, no matter where you live. Most offer peaches and nectarines now and many will follow with apple-picking in the fall. Most farms are cash only and all suggest that visitors call ahead to make sure crops are still plentiful and what, specifically, is available on any given day. Have fun!

LI Day Trip: The Little Red Barn in Jamesport

One of my favorite things to do with the kids over the summer is to take some day trips to the East End to enjoy everything it has to offer for families. From pick your own farms to frolicking on the area’s beautiful beaches, there is plenty to keep the kids occupied while school is out of session.

A few weeks ago, we got the chance to explore one of the North Fork’s gems: The Little Red Barn in Jamesport. Ten years ago, Kate Nickles and her husband bought 40 acres of land, including the barn that was the original home to the carousel that is now in Greenport. In addition to building their dream home on the property, Kate, a native to the area and a lifelong horse rider, decided to open The Little Red Barn to pass down her knowledge and love for horses and other farm animals to local and visiting children.

Blueberry Picking in Connecticut: Pick Your Own Farms

Come and pick 'em folks! The following is a list of Connecticut farms that grow pick-your-own blueberries. Look at the map to the right to find one in your area. Here's a yummy blueberry pie recipe that will make all tummies happy, and make use of the plethora of fruit you are surely to have fun picking.

Fresh blueberries are in their prime from mid-July through mid-August. When picking, select berries that are firm, dry, plump, smooth-skinned, and completely blue. The fruit is often covered with a light white coating called "bloom," which helps prevent deterioration. Water on blueberries accelerates rotting, so don't wash them until you are ready to use them. If you store freshly picked berries in the refrigerator, unwashed and covered, they should last up to two weeks. Freezing is always a good option, too. For raspberries and other fresh picked fruit - check out our Pick Your Own Fruit Farm Guide.

Pick-Your-Own Strawberry Farms in Connecticut

Right now, strawberry picking is just getting under way, but don't hesitate: on some farms the picking season lasts just a few weeks. Happy picking, and baking, and eating!  Not only is picking your own fruit a fun family activity, it's also a great way to teach children about where their food comes from and to engage them in its preparation process. For more pick-your-own options check out our posts about strawberry picking in Hartford County and blueberry picking farms.

Strawberry Festivals Around Boston This Summer

Strawberry picking is a nice, low-key summer activity to enjoy with the kids, but sometimes you want to kick it up a notch. These Boston-area farms, markets and restaurants are doing exactly that with June festivals featuring hayrides, bouncy houses, live entertainment and fun for kids. There's also plenty of strawberry shortcake to try, plus other delightful treats, too.

So bring your kids and your appetite: It's time to celebrate strawberry season!

Pick Your Own Blueberries, Raspberries and More Fruit Near NYC

The strawberry season is short and sweet near NYC. If, like me, you can't squeeze a trip to a strawberry patch into your family's schedule, plan instead an outing for juicy blueberry, blackberry and raspberry picking when school is out. These berries are usually in season July through the end of August and some farms even have a second crop of raspberries that ripen later in the summer, and of course, there will be peach picking come August. So there is plenty of time for your family to get a fruit picking session in.  

Berry picking is great for families with younger kids, because fruit is often low to the ground and can be plucked off the bush without a lift from an adult. The experience can also be more pleasant than a day at the farm in the busy and chilly fall season. With fewer people and less agri-tainment, kids are less distracted from picking. 

We've got 18 spots in the tristate area, all less than 2 hours from NYC—including one accessible by mass transit—and perfect for a family berry picking outing, plus our helpful been-there-done-that tips. A word of caution: Approximate driving times below do not include traffic. You'll probably run into some, especially on summer weekends near the entrances to popular farms. 

Check out our comprehensive guide to all the nearby pick-your-own farms for everything from peaches to flowers and veggies.

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