Fall's most cherished activities: apple picking and pumpkin picking, complete with hay rides and stuffing your face with fresh apple cider donuts, of course. Looking to carve your block's best Jack-O-Lantern? Or, how about winning the homemade pie contest at a local fall festival? We've rounded up the best pick-your-own farms in New Jersey for your next weekend excursion.
Note: Most varieties of apples reach their peak ripeness from early September to mid-October. For the best selection, arrive at the orchard early in the season. Pro-tip: check the farm's websites or simply call ahead for the latest information and to find out when your favorite variety peaks. Trust us: you do not want to miss out on the Honeycrisps. Pumpkins follow a similar, albeit slightly later time frame, reaching peak from mid-September to late-October.
01 of 10
A peacock named Patrick lives on the property. Need we say more? Alstede Farms provides the perfect apple picking experience for young children. This large farm offers a streamlined approach to family fun, including ticket booths that are reminiscent of carnivals and country fairs. One of the farm’s claims to fame is its Corn Kingdom, described on the farm’s website as “a giant sandbox filled with corn kernels”. Bales of hay abound for climbing and photo ops—see if you can make it to the top of the hay pyramid! Kids and adults alike can visit and feed the dozens of farm animals at the petting zoo. The coolest part? Watching goats traverse The Goat Walk. Who knew they were such great climbers? Say hi to Alstede Farms’ resident potbelly pig Spike! Other fun activities include a moon bounce, pony rides, and wagon train. The apples are nothing to sneeze at either! Some other pick your own fruit and vegetable options that differentiate Alstede Farms from other orchards are their eggplants, peppers, and peaches. Word to the wise: Get there early, and make sure you make the farm store your first pitstop to pick up a package of Alstede's famous apple cider donuts. They will run out, and there will be wait times. 1 Chesterfield Drive, Chester; open 9am to 8pm daily; 908-879-7189
02 of 10
Heaven Hill Farm
We'll admit it, lots of North Jersey residents head up to Warwick, NY and the surrounding area for apple picking. Here's your alternative to keep you from crossing state lines, especially due to its proximity: Sussex County's Heaven Hill Farm in Vernon. This farm is the mastermind behind The Great Pumpkin Festival, which is North Jersey's largest fall festival and boasts 30+ activities in addition to, of course, pick-your-own pumpkins. This year's runs from September 17th through November 6th (Wednesday-Sunday). 451 State Route 94, Vernon; 973-764-5144
03 of 10
Celebrating 100 years this year, the 400+ acre farm boasts train rides, pony rides, an apple canon, monster truck rides, a hay pyramid, a hay tunnel, farm animals, and of course, a corn maze, during its annual "Fall Festival". Pick your own pumpkins or take home fresh produce from the store. Bonus: no parking or admission fees. 25 Bartley Rd, Long Valley; open March 18-December; 908-876-3351
04 of 10
Stony Hill Farm Market
Opened in 1988, this 40-acre farm has plenty of apples for pickin', but the real draw is the 10-acre corn maze and Fun Park (open 9/5-11/15), which includes other mazes (tile maze, rope maze, mini corn maze), gemstone mining and a Noah's Ark Playground. This is where you'll want to bring the kiddos for fall fun, and this video tour will solidify that fact. 15 North Road, Chester; open daily 9am to 6pm (from end of April through end of December); 908-879-2908Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Hillview Farms’ storied history began in 1865, and since then, this steadily growing farm has spanned five generations of owners. It is a local landmark in Gillette, offering hayrides, free range chicken, rooster, and peacock sightings, a wide variety of pick your own crops, an apiary, and a classic, well-stocked country store. Visitors can purchase everything from apple cider doughnuts and pumpkin butter to farm fresh mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. Though the farm boasts 53 acres of farmland, it has the feel of a cozy family operation. The pumpkin patch is adjacent to the apple orchards, so the trek is well worth it. There are also pumpkins and other gourds of all sizes pre-picked in front of the farm’s store in case you’re having some trouble lugging your apple baskets and your pumpkins along your adventure. Hillview Farms is only a few minutes from downtown Chatham, so if you’re looking for a meal after apple picking—if you haven’t completely filled up on apples!—there are many dining options nearby. 223 Meyersville Road, Gillette; open 9am to 6pm daily (the general store remains open, but the field closes at 5pm); 908-647-0957
06 of 10
Fairfield Farms and Greenhouses
For a slight change of pace, stop by Fairfield Farms and Greenhouses. The modest size means fewer crowds and a more personal experience. Though this farm provides family fun in the way of a "Play in the Hay" area inside the greenhouse, a 5-acre corn maze, a log jump, and the new, unique two-person “The Tower” slide attractions, the focus here is on the produce and flowers. What goes better with your “Jersey fresh” apples than a true taste of fall in the form of seasonal decorations like the farm’s own mums and cornstalks? While most flowers bloom in the greenhouses in spring, late summer and fall still provide autumnal treats. Of course, during the fall months, a large selection of pick-your-own pumpkins dot the field. 177 Big Piece Road, Fairfield; Monday-Thursday: 11am to 7pm, Friday-Sunday: 8am to 6pm; 973-227-1011
07 of 10
This 80+ year-old family-run operation is open year round, serving up fresh produce to the community, however, September brings the fall fun. For $18, you get a bracelet for all of the activities, including hayrides to the pumpkin patch, a corn maze, the BarnYard Express and BarnBounce, and a pumpkin to take home. The farm also offers an adult pumpkin painting night (we can only imagine the naughtiness that must come out of that, but adults need to have fun too!). Additionally, each year Duffield's holds a family fun night that includes make-your-own-Smores, hanging around a fire put, the corn maze by flashlight, and a dance party! Greentree & Chapel Hts. Rd. Sewell; Monday-Saturday 9am to 7pm; 856-589-7090
08 of 10
Windy Brow Farms
The motto of Windy Brow Farms in Newton, NJ is “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”. It’s a lovely slogan that’s more than fitting for such a lovely place. Ride an old-school wagon to the orchards to pick-your-own on weekends in September through mid-October. See the schedule for each variety's ripening timing here. As if the mouthwatering photos of homemade apple pie, apple tarts, and big juicy apples on the farm’s Facebook page didn’t look delicious enough, watch the video of apple doughnuts frying at the farm. Windy Brow has even created its own homemade ice cream using fresh, seasonal, just-picked ingredients. Two of our favorite specialties are Peaches and Cream and Basil Sweet Cream. There are also special events with live music performances on certain weekends, including the upcoming Fall Harvest Festival over Columbus Day Weekend. Check the website for more event information. This sweet farm is as green as far as the eye can see, presenting a beautiful backdrop for photos. Just make sure to wipe the remnants of the irresistible apple pie and ice cream off of your face first! Don't forget to come back to visit in the spring for peaches, plums, and nectarines. 359 Ridge Road, Newton; Monday-Thursday: 9am to 5pm, Friday and Saturday: 9am to 7pm, Sunday: 9am to 5pm; 973-579-9657Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
There are 34 varieties of apples on a 35-acre property. Download the guide to find out when your favorites will ripen this year. This farm claims to be the first pick-your-own apple orchard in New Jersey, opening to the public back in 1974 (now 43 seasons in). You can cut your own pumpkins off the vines which is unique, as most farms pre-cut the pumpkins and leave them in the field. Hayrides are free and Indian corn is yours to pick as well. 122 Oakdale Road, Chester; open 9am to 4:30pm daily; 908-879-5353
10 of 10
This farm is one of the few, if not the only, farm servicing Passaic County. Beginning the last weekend of September and on weekends through the end of October, you can pick your own pumpkins and take a hayride to the field. Kids will enjoy Happy Jack, an animatronic talking pumpkin who will tell anyone who listens all about how pumpkins grow. The farm store offers goodies from apple butter to fresh cut flower bouquets. Photo op: Look out for the Big Mac Pumpkins, which weigh up to 200 lbs. 945 Black Oak Ridge Road, Wayne; see website for seasonal hours; 973-839-1212