The late summer and early fall is pick your own apples time, and a day apple picking in New York at metro area U-Pick farms is the perfect staycation. Many area families with infants and preschoolers make it the core activity of a cheap weekend getaway. So, please follow my family to the countryside in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut for the best P-Y-O apple and pumpkin picking farms in the tristate metropolitan area.
This year, keep in mind that to help prevent the spread of coronavirus,some U-pick farms may require face coverings and advance reservations. In order to limit the crowds and maintain social distancing, their choice of activities and schedules may change, too.
If you’re traveling this fall, check out our complete guide to apple picking PYO orchards and u-pick fruit farms across the country: FTF Guide to Top U-Pick Farms in the USA. Whether you’re interested in introducing the kids to sustainable agriculture, promoting healthy snacking, riding a hay bale, getting poked in a corn maze, petting cows and sheep, sampling donuts and fresh pies, or just sipping on some apple cider, you’ll find all your needs covered. And as the trend continues, you may be able to come home with a produce-delivery subscription from one of these farms, many of which have become CSAs.
Style Setting and Apple Picking in New York U-Pick Farms
From the New York metropolitan area, a manageable drive either north or south will provide plenty of choices for showmanship, as well as apple picking, farm stand browsing and, as of late September, pumpkin patches. If you’re on Long Island or want to head east, checkout this directory of u-pick farms in southeast New York state.
The PYO orchard of note in Dutchess County near Beekman, New York, is the stylish Barton Orchards. Barton is fun, less crowded and free on weekdays. (The lazy may instead look for their farm stand in Poughkeepsie.)
Weekends, an admission fee provides access to hay rides, the hard cider and craft brew taphouse, live music, playground, bounce house and petting zoo. It’s really fun because the BBQ, burger and ice cream food trucks come out to provide outdoors dining. Boasting 120 acres and a you-pick season that lasts from August to November as different varietals ripen, they also have live music, a haunted house, corn maze and a lot of fun stuff for a permium wristband. If that’s not enough, let the kids try the nearby aerial obstacle course, with five skill levels and open to those 60-275 lbs. and able to reach 72″ tall. There’s an additional fee.
Shorter Drive from Brooklyn & Still PYO Fun
Greig Farm has expanded its commitment to sustainable farming and fruit “pickings” to include an airstream trailer smokehouse, art gallery, crafts showroom, Saturday seafood vendor, some pygmy goats, a koi pond, bakery and a large plant nursery. You can book a room there via Airbnb and volunteer your time to pick the less-than-perfect apples for a local food bank. Their produce is also featured at the daily Hudson Valley Farmers Market in Red Hook.
Closer to Manhattan in Westchester County, the small Outhouse Orchards stocks a big giftshop but also has hayrides, pony rides, and a corn maze for kids; opens each year in late August. Call ahead. Due to public health concerns, they may limit the U-pick activity and just sell visitors apples by the bushel.
Apple Picking in New York about 2 Hours from NYC
Farther north, Ulster County hosts the scenic, 25-mile Hudson Valley Apple Trail covering seven family-run orchards, each with their own delicious offerings and activities.
We especially enjoyed Minards Family Farms, which offers PYO apples and sells pumpkins and berries when in season. The 100-acre farm, just 75 miles from New York City and within view of the Catskills, has expanded greatly. Check out the hayrides, bounce house, sand pit, petting zoo, spider web, pony hop, barnyard football and baseball, tug of war, bowling, peddle carts, corn maze and more that come with a paid wristband.
Minards’ pricing varies according to your preferred activities; indulge in gem mining, an apple cannon, busy bee train ride and an ice cream cone as well! Stay calm: apple picking remains free after you purchase the U-pick bag and you can spot the lifesize red and green apple-costumed mascots a mile away. Remember the Fuji apples (our family’s favorite for eating) peak the last two weeks in September.
Quite a bit farther north in Columbia County, Golden Harvest Farms is home to the tastiest apple cider donuts ever sampled by this author. The orchard of semi-dwarf trees in 25 varieties, founded in 1957, is in a richly historic, largely agricultural region. Your family will enjoy seeing how branches nurturing the heavy Honeycrisp apples are kept tied up. Did you realize that you pay more for Honeycrisp than other varietals because farmers have to pay a licensing fee to the breeder who developed this luscious hybrid.
In the late season, the Golden Harvest Farms orchard provides poles to help you reach the highest crop. Keep in mind that only nine varities are available in the Maple Lane U Pick orchard so you may want to mix and match.
Pick Your Own (PYO) Farms in New Jersey
In Bergen County, Abma’s Poultry and Produce Farm is more of a farmstand to get fresh poultry and eggs, as well as local seasonal fruits and vegetables. However, it is a real farm dating to the 1790s, and that authenticity — plus toddler art classes, a petting zoo and greenhouses — are enough for families to enjoy a day out (closed Sundays and holidays.)
Demarest Farms (in business since 1886 and selling great peaches, too) offers hayrides and pumpkin picking. The Demarest Farm organizes birthday parties with hayrides all fall, plus apple and pumpkin picking through October. We love the great family films shown at their outdoor drive-in movie theater; it adds so much to your outing. On special fall evenings, they show “Spookley the Square Pumpkin” allowing time for pumpkin picking, hayrides, the petting zoo, and more. Look for the Halloween Light Show and Haunted Orchard, their Halloween surprises.
Alstede Farms in Chester takes U Pick so seriously that it has fields of vegetables (picture squash, colorful gourds and potatoes) you can harvest during autumn. This CSA also offers produce delivery portioned for cooking like Hello! Fresh. Among community events, there’s PYO Farm Tours, for a fee, on weekends. Along with more than 250 varieties of fruits and vegetables on over 600 acres, families will enjoy the Harvest Moon hayride — wheelchair accessible weekends (available daily by appointment) — plus pumpkin and apple pancake breakfasts, corn maze and a Christmas Tree farm after mid-November.
A bit farther out into the country, at the 200-acre Terhune Orchards in the beautiful town of Princeton, the Apple Days Fall Harvest Festival takes places weekends from mid-September to the last October weekend before Halloween. Families enjoy live music, corn and hay mazes, pumpkin painting and exploring the nature trail. Sadly, due to lack of help, the farm has limited the fruit available for the PYO crowed. Their vineyard, however, is holding many tasting events for the over-21s.
Are you and the kids overpicked? Check out the recipes on the Terhune website or join the ‘Read and Pick’ storytime — when children’s books are paired with fruits or vegetables kids can harvest — held Tuesdays and Wednesdays from May to October.
Favorite, Entertaining & U-Pick Farms in Connecticut
And if you wish to take a ride up to Connecticut, there are plenty of orchards and fruit farms during the harvest season. Silvermans Farm is one of the most show biz places I’ve seen, with live entertainment — think bluegrass and banjo — and all the fixins’ each weekend. There’s fishing in Blueberry Pond, lots of produce, a buffalo and llama in their petting zoo and ready-made Victory Garden kits so you can leave them and plant your own produce garden at home.
Only a 90-minute ride from New York City is Blue Jay Orchards in Bethel which opens to the public when the Macintosh varietal ripens, usually around Labor Day. This 140-acre farm has nearly 30 varieties of apples and offers hayrides to its Pumpkin Patch during weekends in October. If you’re with a large group, call ahead to book their fun Pre-K Apple Tour.
Open 360 days a year, Bishop’s Orchards is a big operation in Guilford that features a Farmer’s Market, winery, apple and pumpkin picking, as well as a bakery that sells delicious fresh-baked pies, fudge and zucchini bread. And we can’t forget their new creamery, featuring hand-concocted and very intriguing sounding ice creams. Bishop’s 300 acres are also home to llamas, goats and alpacas that live in the renovated Little Red Barn. Check out their expanded Pick Your Own locations, easily accessible from the main farm.
Apple Pickers Directory for New York, New Jersey & Connecticut
In closing, here is GPS information for some of my favorite apple and pumpkin picking farms in the tristate region. Before you head out, consider what you’ll do with the apples that you pick.
Different varieties are better suited for eating, such as Gold or Red Delicious, Macintosh, Empire, Idared, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Jonathon and new hybrids like the Jonagold. If sauces or pies are in the plan, try the Cortland, the Golden Delicious, the Russet, and the Mutsu. If you’re set on making your favorite recipe, call ahead to see what’s left on the trees.
Pick Your Own New York State Apples
Apple Dave’s (formerly Applewood) Orchards, 82 Four Corners Rd., Warwick NY 10990 – 845/986-1684
Barton Orchards,63 Apple Tree Lane, Poughquag, NY 12570 – 845/227-2306
Golden Harvest Farms, 3074 US Rt. 9, Valatie, NY 12184 – 518/758-7683
Greig Farm, 223 Pitcher Lane, Red Hook, NY 12571 – 845/758-1234
Minard Farms, 250 Hurds Road, Clintondale, NY 12515 – 866/632-7753
Outhouse Orchards, 130 Hardscrabble Rd., North Salem, NY 10560 – 914/277-3188
Pick Your Own New Jersey Apples
Abma’s Farm Market, 700 Lawlins Rd., Wyckoff, NJ 07481 – 201/891-0278
Alstede Farms, 1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester, NJ 07930 – 908/528-88
Demarest Farm, 244 Wierimus Rd., Hillsdale, NJ 07642 – 201/666-0472
Terhune Orchards, 330 Cold Soil Rd., Princeton, NJ 08540 – 609/924-2310
Pick Your Own Connecticut Apples
Bishop Orchard, 1355 Boston Post Rd., Guilford, CT 06437 – 203/453-2338
Blue Jay Orchards, 125 Plumtrees Rd., Bethel, CT 06801 – 203/748-0119
Silvermans Farm, 451 Sport Hill Road, Easton CT – 203/261-3306
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