There's a chill in the air, the kids are headed back to school, and you know what all that means... That's right, it’s finally apple-picking time! No matter where you live in New Jersey, there's bound to be an apple picking orchard nearby, many of which also offer fun activities, like hay rides and petting zoos. So grab a few baskets and head out to one of these great farms. Mmmmm.
Northern New Jersey
Sun High Orchards (Randolph, NJ)
Kids will love to visit the animals, and take a hay ride at this great family-friendly farm. A variety of apples, including Cortland, Macintosh, Honeycrisp and Empire, are sold by the pound, so only grab what you want to buy. Before visiting, be sure to check to see if there are any online coupons. Cap off the day with a trip to the farm stand for some homemade ice cream. 973-584-4734
Demarest Farms (Hillsdale, NJ)
This popular farm boasts 14 varieties of pick-your-own apples. Apple picking is permitted on Saturday and Sunday, beginning in early September, and the entrance fee gets you a hayride, playground and face time with the farm animals; pay an additional fee for a bag to hold all the apples you can pick. Stop in their farm store before leaving for some treats, including ice cream and apple cider donuts. 201-666-0472
Alstede Farms (Chester, NJ)
Talk about agri-tainment! In addition to being open for daily apple picking, the farm offers all of its special attractions (a corn maze, pony rides, hayrides, a bouncy house) every single day, not just on weekends. The farm does charge an admission fee (which includes a hayride). Keep in mind, the farm tends to get very crowded on peak fall weekends. 908-879-7189
Wightman's Farms (Morristown, NJ)
Heads up: a membership is required to enter this orchard but it buys you access all season long for up to five people. Apple picking is permitted only on Saturdays and Sundays. Membership privileges include discounts on purchases and weekend attractions like a pumpkin slingshot, hayrides and a corn maze. Before leaving, try some freshly squeezed apple cider, pressed from apples picked right at the farm. 973-425-9819
Riamede Farm (Chester, NJ)
Choose from more than 30 varieties of apples, ranging from traditional classics to heirloom specialties to modern favorites. No bouncy castles or petting zoos here; Riamede is all about apples, with the only extra being a complimentary hayride on weekends. For you tried-and-true apple lovers, a weekly trip to Riamede is necessary to catch each variety at its apple-tree ripened best. The best thing to do is call the farm early every day— Riamede’s telephone message will always tell you what is ripe and being picked on any day. 908-879-5353
Mackey's Orchard (Belvidere, NJ)
Mackey's Orchard offers apple pickers a 15 minute hayride with scenic views to the apple picking area, located behind the farm. There’s also a playground and a full apple bakery that offers apple cider donuts, dumplings and more, and a mile-high apple pie! (Fun fact: Mackey’s mile-high pie has between 5 and 6 pounds of apples in it!). Mackey’s grows over 100 varieties of apples that ripen between August and November. Pick-your-own is offered on weekends in September and October. Owner Holly Mackey advises people to always call in advance before coming, because we Garden State residents know how wonky the Jersey weather can be! 908-475-1507
Some NJ apple orchards even offer kiddie entertainment like pony rides and petting zoos. Photo by Mommy Poppins.
Central New Jersey
Battleview Orchards (Freehold, NJ)
Battleview Orchards, a family owned and operated farm, invites the public to "pick your own" New Jersey Apples, beginning at the end of August. Enjoy a family hayride on the weekends, or schedule a group tour and learn how they make their delicious apple cider. Battleview is also known for its adorable Country Market & Bakery, which features a variety of treats, including their popular apple pie. Call ahead or visit their Facebook page before visiting to confirm current crops and picking hours. 732-462-0756
Eastmont Orchards (Colts Neck, NJ)
Eastmont Orchards has been growing apples since 1923. The farm, which is open daily, offers 19 different types of apples. Call ahead or visit their Facebook page to see which types of apples are available. Pricing is by the pound, and they only accept cash and checks. 732-542-5404
VonThun Farms (Monmouth Junction, NJ)
VonThun Farms offers apple picking from mid-September thru the end of October. Apple trees at the farm are dwarf trees, very close to the ground, which makes picking easy for kids. VonThun's Fall Harvest Weekends begin in late September. Famiy activities include a corn maze, an inflatable obstacle course, hayrides, face painting, pony rides and a pumpkin blaster. The farm is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, and accepts cash and credit cards. 732-329-8656
Giamarese Farm and Orchards (East Brunswick, NJ)
Enjoy apple picking at Giamarese Farm from the end of August to Columbus Day. All of the apples grown at Giamarese Farm are non GMO. Hayrides are available during the farm's Fall Harvest Weekends, which also feature pony rides and a corn maze. The farm is closed on Mondays. Follow them on Facebook or subscribe to their newsletter for current news, farm photos and coupons. 732-821-9494
Southern New Jersey
Terhune Orchards (Princeton, NJ)
Fall and apples go together at Terhune Orchards. Beginning in September, Terhune Orchard's pick-your-own-farm on Van Kirk Road, just around the block from their home farm, is open every day. Sold by weight, the farm's apples are juicy, crisp and delicious. Celebrate Apple Day, a family-friendly event featuring pony rides, hayrides, a corn maze, plenty of food and live entertainment. In addition, Fall Family Fun Weekends take place during the month of October. 609-924-2310
Johnson's Corner Farm (Medford, NJ)
Apple Picking at Johnson's Corner Farm begins in early September, when the Fuji apples ripen. Throughout September and October, nine additional apple varieties will be ready for picking, including red delicious and granny smith. Apple picking hayrides begin in September. The farm's popular Fall Festival Weekends include live music, corn maze, moon bounce and a food tent. Their animal farm and discovery barnyard are also fun to visit. Visit their farm market for fresh baked pies, caramel apples and cider donuts. And be sure to stop at one of their ice cream windows for an Apple Cider Slush or some pumpkin ice cream. 609-654-8643
NOTE: Please contact orchards before heading out to confirm hours and amenities–many orchards are small, family-run establishments. All are open weekends, with varying hours. Weekday hours are limited and vary greatly. Also, please leave animals at home or you may be asked to leave apple-free.
Top photo via Pixabay.
This article was first published in September 2009 but has since been updated.