For many, Long Island conjures up images of beaches, malls and traffic and not much else. But, Long Island is filled with hidden gems that have nothing to do with shopping or the sea (unfortunately traffic is always possible). Once a farming community, you can still find a lot of family farms throughout the Island and these days many have added pick-your-own fields, petting zoos, gourmet fresh markets, garden centers and kid activities. Each farm maintains its personal flavor, here are a few that are really worth the drive.
If you are looking to sink your hands into the soil or spend a day gorging on fruit, head to one of Long Islands many pick-your-own farms.
A drive along the North Shore between Wading River and Orient Point on Sound Avenue (about an hour and a half from NYC without traffic) is not only beautiful but also filled with a ton of pick-your-own farms, many of which offer fun activities for kids. A favorite of mine is Harbes Family Farm, which offers pony rides every Sunday for your kids and live music for the grown ups from 12-4pm.
Here are some more pick-your-own farms, each one specializes in different produce so you may want to call in advance to see what they have available to pick that day:
Lewin Farms: lots of veggies and fruits to pick
Davis Peach Farm: pick your own peaches
Wickhams Fruit Farm: pick your own blackberries in August
Long Island is full of locally owned and family operated farm centers, many of which have a variety of wild life that go way beyond your normal list of farm animals. One such spot is the Long Island Game Farm. More zoo and wildlife center, the Game Farm does have it's share of what you would expect: a petting zoo, carnival style rides, and pony rides. What makes this place spectacular is the daily schedule with events like visiting the animal nursery to bottle feed the babies or having a chance to get up close and personal to the resident mascot, Jack the giraffe. It has been a long time since I have seen a place so committed to children and a love for animals as the Game Farm. With a primary focus on animal education and instilling love and respect for animals, this is one place worth the trip, but be aware: getting your children to leave is no easy task.
Other Great Family Farms:
White Post Farms in Mellville has exotic animals as well as regular farm animals and pony rides and does birthday parties.
Benners Farm in Setauket has lots of farm activities for kids and offers mommy and me farm workshops. Kids can cuddle and even feed baby animals like bunnies, chicks and piglets, go on a hayride and more.
So see the other side of Long Island, you can always stop at the beach (or the mall) on the way home!
For full coverage of apple picking, pumpkin picking, strawberry picking and farm fun info in the tri state area, check out our Pick Your Own Guide.