Cream of the Crop: 10 Best Farms for Family Fun and Entertainment in NJ
The pools and beaches may be closed, but there's still plenty of outdoor fun to be had. 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 fall day trip for an ideal farm outing. New Jersey isn’t known as the Garden State for nothing!
Kids can visit Alstede's many animal residents, including goats, chickens, bunnies, and ducks. Photo by Rose Gordon Sala.
Alstede Farms — Chester
This 600-acre, family-owned farm takes fun seriously. The corn maze, pony rides, hayrides, and bouncy house are available every single day—not just on weekends. After a trip to the fields to pick your own strawberries, apples, or pumpkins, kids can take a dip in Corn Kingdom, a sandbox filled with corn kernels instead of sand. You’ll find all kinds of animals here, 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 does charge 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
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 at the pumpkin slingshot game.
Demarest Farms — Hillsdale
This kid-friendly farm is like an oversized backyard that’s bursting with fresh produce and some farm animals, too. After your crew have filled their baskets with u-pick peaches, apples, or pumpkins, set the littles 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 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 BBQs, movies under the stars in the pumpkin patch in the fall, and free winter hayrides with Santa.
Happy Day Farm — Manalapan Township
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 13 acres here. This year’s maze theme? Curious George’s 75th anniversary! The annual apple and pumpkin festivals celebrate the best of the fall harvest; u-pick raspberries and blueberries are the highlight 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 feed 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, cheese steaks, 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 bee hive.
Heaven Hill Farm is home to the popular Great Pumpkin Festival.
Heaven Hill Farm — Vernon
Billed as the largest fall festival in Northern NJ, Heaven Hill’s Great Pumpkin Festival offers more than 30 family-friendly activities, including pony rides, a hay maze, milking cows, monster sling shots, 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.
Johnson’s Corner Farm — Medford
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 will 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 will remind you of 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 magical musical light show, hayrides, and s’mores around the fire pit. And 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.
Animal lovers will love Norz Hill Farm, home to traditional farm animals as well as a few exotic residents like a peacock and emu.
Norz Hill Farm — Hillsborough
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 walk-through 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 will help 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
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. On select Tuesdays, Terhune hosts Read & Pick, an innovative program for younger kids that combines picking fruit and listening to a story highlighting an in-season fruit or farm area. Other annual events include the Bunny Chase, Kite Day, and Firefly Festival.
Wightman Farms — Morristown
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. Heads-up: a membership is required to enter this farm, but it buys you access all year long for up to five people and includes strawberries in June, peaches and nectarines in July and August, and apples in September. Membership privileges include discounts on purchases and weekend attractions like a giant pumpkin slingshot, hayrides with amazing views of the orchards, and a corn and hay maze. There’s even a corn-filled sandbox that’s popular with the littles. 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.
Top photo: Heaven Hill Farm. Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the farms.