Visit the petting zoo at Alstede Farms for a chance to meet the animals. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala
Visit the petting zoo at Alstede Farms for a chance to meet the animals. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

Cream of the Crop: 10 Best Farms for Family Fun and Entertainment in NJ

Fall is the perfect time to visit one of New Jersey’s top family farms, which offer year-round activities that blend agriculture with entertainment. Whether your kids want to meet baby barnyard animals, pick their own fruit, or take a hayride, each of these 10 "agritainment" centers guarantees enough fresh air and playtime to tucker out your mini farmer by the end of the day. So get out your fall to-do list and plan a farm outing. New Jersey isn’t the Garden State for nothing!

Find even more apple orchards, pumpkin farms, and corn mazes in our Fall Fun Guide.

Alstede Farms — Chester

2020 update: Tickets for pick-your-own activities must be purchased in advance for a specific 30-minute time slot. The ticket includes access to the picking fields, a quarter-peck sized bag and contents, access to the mazes, giant hay pyramid, and tractor-drawn wagon rides. The bouncy house is open this year.

This 600-acre, family-owned farm takes fun seriously. The corn maze, pony rides, hayrides, and bouncy house are available daily—not just on weekends. After a trip to the fields to pick your own apples or pumpkins, kids can check out the mazes (corn, evergreen, and sunflower) or meet the many friendly animals, including cows, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, bunnies, ducks, and pigs that kids can feed. Special events include seasonal festivals, breakfasts with Santa, and Easter egg hunts. Shop the farm store for organic fruits and veggies, local honey, homemade pies and cider donuts, and a scoop of fresh ice cream mixed with fruit from the farm. Alstede charges an admission fee (which includes a hayride), and it tends to get very crowded on the weekends, so plan ahead.

Conklin Farm U-Pick — Montville

2020 update: This year's activities include pumpkin picking, farm market shopping, and pictures with the red truck. Donuts are available on weekends only. There will be no picnicking, regular hayrides, pumpkin train, slingshot game, corn maze, or hotdogs. Limited Haunted Hayrides are held on weekends only. No pets are allowed at the farm this year. Guests are asked to limit their time at the farm to one hour.

If large spaces and big crowds overwhelm your little one (or you, for that matter), Conklin is a smaller, more intimate venue that still packs a lot of fun. It has all you could ask for: pumpkin picking, a corn maze, train ride, barnyard animals, and hayrides (even a haunted hayride for your older, braver kids), but at a less frenetic pace. Plus, a snack shack with hotdogs, hot cider, candy apples, and warm, homemade donuts keeps everyone happy. Kids can take a chance at winning a 100-plus pound giant pumpkin during the pumpkin slingshot game.

RELATED: Family-Friendly Vineyards and Wineries in New Jersey

Goats and llamas peek their heads through a fence begging for a bite to eat
Visit the goats and llamas at Demarest Farms.

Demarest Farms — Hillsdale

2020 update: All pick-your-own activities require a reservation. The farm is hosting family-friendly drive-in movies. The Haunted Orchard is canceled this year.

This kid-friendly farm is like an oversized backyard bursting with fresh produce and some farm animals, too. After your crew has filled its baskets with u-pick apples or pumpkins, set the little ones loose to play. They’ll have fun petting the pigs, sheep, goats, and chickens; playing in the colorful wooden playhouses; and enjoying the photo board cutouts that are set up around the farm. Most families spend hours here, so pack a lunch to enjoy in the fully shaded picnic area. Or grab food from the super-fresh salad bar located inside the farm store. Swing by Thursday nights during the summer for barbecues, movies under the stars in the pumpkin patch in the fall, and free winter hayrides with Santa.

Happy Day Farm — Manalapan Township

2020 update: Advanced ticket purchase is required to enter the farm. Mondays-Thursdays, only pumpkin picking, and pumpkinville are open. Fridays-Sundays all Fall Harvest activities are open.

You can’t help but have a good time at a farm called Happy Day. One of the largest corn mazes in the state is spread out over 10 acres here. The annual apple and pumpkin festivals celebrate the best of the fall harvest; u-pick raspberries and blueberries are the highlights of the summer Family Fun Festival. Your little one will love wandering through Timmy’s Town Zoo. The cash-only facility sells bags of feed for $1 to share with the pigs, goats, chickens, and other animals. There’s also a Kids Corner where little farmers can take a run through the hay maze, climb the giant tires, play corn hole, ride pedal carts, and explore the rustic, wooden train. When you need a break from the playground and animals, burgers, chicken fingers, funnel cake, and other goodies are available for purchase on festival weekends, and there’s always honey for sale, harvested from the farm’s own beehive. Be warned: It's cash-only.

RELATED: Best Apple Picking Farms in NJ with Kids

A tractor pulls hayride passengers through a corn field
Heaven Hill Farm is home to the popular and socially distanced Great Pumpkin Festival.

Heaven Hill Farm — Vernon

2020 update: Buy tickets in advance and enjoy this year's activities: hayrides, a Western-themed corn maze, barnyard sports ball-cade, hay crawl, farm animals, obstacle course, pedal cars, duck races, and much more. Gem mining, sand art, and carnival rides are available for an additional fee. The Halloween costume contest and trick-or-treat trail take place Sunday, October 25.

Billed as the largest fall festival in Northern N.J., Heaven Hill’s Great Pumpkin Festival offers more than 30 family-friendly activities, including pony rides, a hay maze, milking cows, monster slingshots, and barnyard sports ball-cade. After your little ones are done playing, wander over to the farm store for wine tastings from NJ’s own Balic Winery. Kids can ride the train around the farm with Santa on weekends in December, and be sure to come back in the spring for a massive Easter egg hunt. While you can’t pick your own produce here, the farm store is stocked with locally grown fruits, vegetables, honey, and jams, plus fresh-baked pies and bread ready to take home.

A duck roosts on a fence post at Johnson's Corner Farm
Enjoy the peacefulness at Johnson's Corner Farm.

Johnson’s Corner Farm — Medford

2020 update: Visitors must reserve hayride times online; the Sunflower Stroll, Corn Maze, and Discovery Barnyard are available for an added fee. The farm is also limiting picking start times to ensure safe social distancing on hayrides. Guests are encouraged to come on a weekday (look for weekday discounts) and avoid peak times of weekend afternoons. Apple picking is over for the season because of a small crop.

There’s so much to do at this family farm; it’s hard to know where to start. We suggest making a beeline for the Discovery Barnyard. After paying a small entrance fee, kids find an EVOS Pathfinder, which offers a zillion different ways to climb, spin, hang, and slide, and the Space Net, a triangle-shaped climbing contraption that looks like a spider’s web. There are also three age-specific play areas for toddlers to big kids, pedal go-cart tracks, and an obstacle course. The splash pad is open during the summer, so don't forget your swimsuits! Hop on a hayride to the field for u-pick strawberries, blueberries, apples, and pumpkins, or visit the animals at the farm’s second location, Johnson’s Locust Farm. Popular Fall Festival Weekends include live music, a corn maze, moon bounce, and a food tent with food hot off the grill. Bundle up during the holidays for a magical musical light show, hayrides, and s’mores around the fire pit. No visit here would be complete without a stop at the ice cream window for soft-serve ice cream mixed with Italian ice, a tasty Jersey treat.

RELATED: See Baby Animals and More at Family-Friendly NJ Farms

A girl leads a pony around Norz Hill Farm
Norz Hill Farm is an animal lover's dream with typical farm animals and a few exotic residents like a peacock and emu.

Norz Hill Farm — Hillsborough

2020 update: Purchase tickets in advance online before heading to the farm.

Do your kids constantly ask you where milk comes from? For answers, you can start at Norz Hill, home to about 60 Holstein cows. Even though the farm is no longer in the business of milking, kids will delight in seeing the black-and-white herd grazing in the fields as you drive up to this picturesque farm. In addition to the cows and traditional farm animals, Norz Hill is also home to a few exotic residents, including an alpaca, peacock, zonkey (a hybrid of a zebra and donkey), and even an emu. Pumpkin picking and hayrides are part of the fall festivities at Norz Hill, open seven days a week. Don't forget to try the five-acre corn maze, which boasts a new design each season. Pony rides are available on the weekends, and the market stand is always open with apples, cider, donuts, and gift baskets. The Scare Farm attraction is perfect for big kids, featuring a walkthrough creepy corn trail and haunted hayrides.

Oasis Family Farm — Robbinsville

Your family can easily spend an entire day at this amazing agritainment farm. The Fun Zone is ripe with play options, including pedal cars, basketball hoops, a 50-inch tube slide, tire swing, zip line, and more. Check out the Gem Mine and Amazon Gold Rush to search and sift for treasure, and get up-close-and-personal with a live bee observatory and ant colony. Festival weekends celebrate a wide variety of locally grown produce, from strawberries and corn to watermelon, pumpkins, and apples. Additional FREE kids' activities such as wagon rides and games are also available on these weekends. Halloween-themed egg hunts and a haunted house helps get kids in the spirit for their favorite holiday. Monster Truck weekends—where kids can ride in the cab of an actual big wheeler—are held twice a year.

Terhune Orchards — Princeton

2020 update: Online tickets required for Family Fun weekends. Apple picking has finished for the season.

With barnyard animals, a half-mile farm walking trail, and pony and tractor rides, there’s plenty to do for the kids after you’ve had your fill of apples, strawberries, and cherries at this sweet farm. With more than 30 varieties of apples growing in the orchards, you’re bound to find a new family favorite. Fall Family Weekends invite kids to visit the cornstalk and hay bale maze, meet and feed the barnyard animals, and enjoy face painting and pumpkin decorating. Other annual events include the Bunny Chase, Kite Day, and Firefly Festival.

Kids search for apples at Wightman Farms' orchard
Wander the orchards at Wightman Farms for the chance to pick-your-own apples.

Wightman Farms — Morristown

2020 update: Tickets must be purchased in advance for orchard entry, mazeland entry, and hayrides. Open Saturdays and Sundays only. Apple picking has finished for the season.

Family-owned and -operated for more than 90 years, Wightman Farms is tucked away off a quaint stretch of Route 202, just minutes away from downtown Morristown’s shopping and dining district. Weekend attractions include scenic hayrides with amazing views of the orchards, and a corn and hay maze. There’s even a corn-filled sandbox that’s popular with little ones. Before leaving, try some freshly squeezed apple cider, pressed from apples picked right at the farm, and pick up homemade pies, apple butter, and cider donuts to take home. Food stands around the farm also sell freshly roasted corn-on-the-cob and giant pickles-on-a-stick.

Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the farms

Fall Family Weekends at Terhune Orchards
Terhune Orchards - 10:00 AM Pick
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Ort Farms - 10:00 AM Pick
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Woodlands' 9th Annual Community Day
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