The Garden State's many wonderful farms are perfect spots for a family-friendly outing any time of year. But a few special farmsteads offer visitors the unique opportunity to experience farm life just as it existed many years ago. These living history farms give visitors the chance to try their hand at chores like bottle-feeding lambs, gathering honey, and harvesting ice. If you're looking for a fun, educational experience for the entire family, hands-on historical farms are a great choice.
For even more outdoor family fun, check out these New Jersey farms and historic villages.
Check individual websites for hours.
At Fosterfields, farmers grow crops using early 20th-century tools and techniques.
Fosterfields Living Historical Farm – Morristown
This 200-acre National Register Site offers a full immersion in turn-of-the-century farming methods and life. Fosterfields is a full working farm that uses 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 scheduled frequently throughout the year.
Kids can try on period costumes and participate in hands-on activities at Historic Cold Spring Village.
Historic Cold Spring Village – Cape May
More than just a farm, Historic Cold Spring Village is an Early American open-air living history museum with 26 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 visitors 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.
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Plowing the fields at Historic Longstreet Farm.
Historic Longstreet Farm – Holmdel
Longstreet Farm re-creates the sights, sounds, and smells of rural Monmouth County in the 1890s, right down to the breeds of animals and crops raised at that time. Like other living history farms, interpreters in period dress demonstrate 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. Free admission.
Be sure to stop by the chicken house on your tour of Howell Living History Farm.
Howell Living History Farm – Lambertville
Head to Howell to 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. Kids 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 on Saturdays only, but visitors are welcome to bring a picnic anytime. Free admission.
Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the farms.
Originally published 2013; updated for 2017.