New Jersey is home to many wonderful farms, perfect spots for a family-friendly outing anytime of year. But a few special locations offer visitors the unique opportunity to step back in time and experience farm life just as it existed many years ago. These Living History farms give kids the chance to try their hand at everything from bottle-feeding lambs and gathering honey to collecting sap and harvesting ice. If you're looking for a fun, educational experience for the entire family, historic farms are a great choice. Read on for the details on four terrific NJ spots that bring history to life.
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm (Morristown)
This 200-acre National Register Site offers a full immersion into turn-of-the-century farming methods and life. Fosterfields is a full working farm, using the tools, techniques and materials of an early 20th century farm. Staff dressed in period attire act out the lives and roles of Foster family members and farm laborers by performing a daily regimen of chores, and raising livestock and crops using historical methods. Kids can help with activities such as feeding the chickens or churning butter. Educational programs and special events are also scheduled frequently throughout the year. Visit the website for current hours.
Historic Cold Spring Village (Cape May)
More than just a farm, Historic Cold Spring Village is a full-blown, Early American open-air living history museum with twenty-six restored antique buildings on more than 30 acres of land. The Village brings to life the day-to-day activities of South Jersey residents during the “age of homespun” (1789-1840) with interpreters available to educate children about the lifestyles, trades and crafts of long ago. An activity area allows kids to try on costumes, participate in hands-on crafts and play historic games. Stop by the Village Country Store for books, housewares and wooden toys or visit the Ice Cream Parlor for a delicious treat. Visitors can also enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides on weekdays. Visit the website for current hours.
Historic Longstreet Farm (Holmdel)
Longstreet Farm re-creates the sights, sounds and smells of rural Monmouth County in the 1890's, including the breeds of animals and crops raised at that time. Like other living history farms, interpreters in period dress show both daily and seasonal agricultural and domestic activities, including sheep shearing, spring planting and ice cutting. Visitors can pitch in with weekend activities such as milking a cow, grinding corn for animal feed and wood stove cooking. There are multiple festivals and seasonal events planned throughout the year as well. Longstreet Farm is located within beautiful Holmdel Park, which features playgrounds, picnic areas and hiking trails. Admission is free. Visit the website for current hours.
Howell Living History Farm (Lambertville)
A trip to Howell is really a trip back in time, where kids can experience first-hand what farm life was like circa 1900. There’s plenty to see and do here—tour the 130-acre grounds and check out the Sheep Barn, Chicken House, Hog Pasture and more. Your children will love running around and getting their hands dirty! Visit on Saturdays to take part in special events such as an Old Time Baseball Game or Wheat Harvest & Ice Cream Party. Food is available for purchase Saturdays only but visitors are welcome to bring a picnic anytime. Free admission. Visit the website for current hours.
Image: The Justice John Phillips' home, Howell Living History Farm
Originally published 2013