An apple for the teacher? Done, once you’ve visited one of these nearby orchards where your family can enjoy apple picking in New Jersey and beyond. But don't think you're going to pick a peck and then head home. These farms near Bergen County offer dozens of varieties of apples but also pumpkins, corn mazes, hay rides, petting zoos, fresh doughnuts and more, so your whole tribe is guaranteed a good time. The oppressive heat of summer is on its way out and crisp fall days will soon be here, so check out our annual list of the best places to go for apples and pumpkins, and get pickin’!
In Bergen County:
Demarest Farms (244 Wierimus Road, Hillsdale, 201-666-0472)
Home to 14-plus varieties of apples, this 130-year-old farm provides a beautiful setting for picking and spending the day visiting their corn maze and petting zoo, and don’t leave without trying their homemade donuts and soups. Plan your trip for Friday Sept. 21, 28 or Oct. 5 and treat yourself to pumpkin picking and movie night with an exclusive showing of the movie Spookley The Square Pumpkin. Admission for this special event is $16/pp. (General admission is $7 and includes a hayride, petting zoo visit and playground access. $10/bag of apples. Apple picking starts September 1, Saturdays and Sundays and all holidays from 9 to 4:30 and Monday-Friday from 3 to 4:30. Pumpkin picking starts September 15, Monday-Friday 3 to 4:30, Saturdays and Sundays 9 to 4:30).
In Rockland County:
Dr. Davies Farm (306 Route 304, Congers, NY, 845-268-7020)
Wander through their 55-acre farm filled with 4,000-plus trees where apples abound and gorgeous vistas are at every turn. Visit their roadside farm stand for fresh fruits and vegetables, including their own sweet corn and fresh-pressed cider. A trailer ride will take you to the pumpkin patch on their scenic farm. Get there early before the crowds! (Apple picking starts Sept. 3. Open every day, weather permitting, from 10 to 4, cash only.)
The Orchards of Concklin (2 South Mountain Rd, Pomona, NY, 845-354-0369)
This place has been a staple in Rockland County for 10 generations, and the owners take special care of their orchards, encouraging visitors to be kind to the trees when picking. A slide as well as haunted and bounce houses will keep kids busy while you visit their bakery for pies, cookies, pastries or a quiche. (Apple picking starts September 16, open Sundays and Columbus Day 10 to 5, $10/bag of apples, pole rental $2, kids under 3 free.)
Alstede Farms (1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester, 908-258-6245)
From Fuji to Honey Crisp, new varieties are popping on trees every week at Alstede (check their website for the growing schedule and events calendar). Work your way through the corn maze and enjoy wagon-train rides. (Picking every day 9 to 6 with last admission at 5 p.m., $7.99 fee on weekends includes a hay wagon ride and live entertainment, $17.99 Children’s All Day Activity Pass includes unlimited access to pony rides, moon bounce, wagon-train rides, corn kingdom and also includes admission to pick-your-own areas, hayrides and live entertainment. $1.99/pound of apples. Pumpkin picking starts in mid-September. Apple Pancake Breakfasts will be Sept. 2 and 9. Pumpkin pancake breakfast is Oct. 28.)
Stony Hill Farms (8 East Mill Road, Chester, 908-879-2696)
The picking for little ones is easier with Stony Hill’s dwarf apple trees with up to 20 different varieties of apples to choose from. Weave through their 10-acre corn maze then try the rope and tile mazes before visiting the playground as well as the farm market for Jersey-fresh produce. (Picking season runs through mid-October, pumpkin patch is open at the end of September through October. Open daily 10 to 5. $10 for 1/2 peck, $18 for full peck. $.59/lb for pumpkins.)
Hurds Family Farm (2187 State Route 32, Modena, NY, 845-883-7825)
Every weekend brings family activities, including a two-acre maze and special events, including Grandparents Day on Sept. 8 when grandparents are free when they bring their grandkids, a fresh air jazz concert on Sept. 23 and bluegrass music on Sept. 30. See their website for details. Visit their Big Apple Café for fresh, delicious meals and then kids can do the Big Apple Bounce, the cow train and hayride and pedal karts. New this year: the Wild Apple Obstacle Course. (Picking runs until early November. Open every day 9 to 5 with activities 10 to 4. $7 for half peck, $12 for full peck of apples. Pumpkins are $.65 per pound.)
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery (114 Little York Road, Warwick, NY, 845-258-4858)
Take a break after picking and enjoy a glass of wine or hard cider while listening to live music on the patio at this picturesque orchard, which features more than 60 different apple varieties. Purchase a ½ bushel bag for $30 (it holds about 20-25 lbs. of apples) and receive a complementary tractor ride for up to four people (additional tractor rides are $3). Apple picking is available every day 11 to 5 through Nov. 4.
Johnson’s Corner Farm (133 Church Rd, Medford, 609-654-8643)
Apple and pumpkin picking hayrides begin Sept. 8 at one of the largest “pick your own” farms in southern Jersey. Fall Festival Weekends include live music, a corn maze, gem mining, animal farm and a food tent. Visit in November to pick popcorn, sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. (Open daily from 10 to 5, hayrides are $4.50/person, $1.89/lb. for apples, pumpkins are $.79/lb.)
Silverman’s Farm (451 Sport Hill Road, Easton, CT, 203-261-3306)
Dozens of varieties of apples are ripe for the picking at Silverman’s, a trek from Bergen to Connecticut, but take the day and make the trip. With a farmer’s market and a pumpkin patch as well as an animal farm, everyone will be kept busy. (Open every day 9 to 5. See website for further details).