The late summer and early fall is pick your own apples time, and a day at a New York Metro U-Pick farm is the perfect staycation or basis for a cheap weekend getaway for many area families. 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, many U-pick farms require face coverings and advance reservations. In order to limit the crowds and maintain social distancing, their schedules may change, too.
If you’re traveling this fall, check out our complete guide to apple picking orchards and 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.
Apple Picking & U-Pick Em Farms in New York Metro Area
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, which is fun and free on weekdays. (The lazy can 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. 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 their aerial obstacle course.
Greig Farm has expanded its “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.
Pick Your Own Farms About 2 Hours from New York City
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 pick-your-own 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. For $20, toss in gem mining, an apple cannon, busy bee train ride and an ice cream cone! 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 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. In the late season, the 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, New Jersey, Abma’s Poultry and Produce Farm is the place to get fresh poultry and eggs, as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables that they pick themselves. However, it is a real farm dating to the 1790s, and that authenticity is enough for families to enjoy (closed Sunday.) Demarest Farm (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. Special evenings they show “Spookley the Square Pumpkin” on an outdoor screen along with time for pumpkin picking, hayrides, the petting zoo, and more. This October marks the launch of Haunted Orchard, their new Halloween surprise.
Alstede Farms in Chester takes U Pick so seriously that it has fields of vegetables (picture squash, colorful gourds and potatoes) you can harvest, as well as apples and pumpkins during autumn. This CSA also offers foods portioned for each cooking and more community events, such as Pick Your Own 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 and 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 September 14-October 27. Families enjoy live music, corn and hay mazes, pumpkin painting and exploring the nature trail. Of course, pick-your-own blackberries, apples and pumpkins are on tap and their vineyard holds many tasting events for the over-21s. Overpicked? Check out the recipes on their website or join the ‘Read and Pick’ storytime — when children’s books are paired with fruits or vegetables — held each Tuesday 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. (Look for the buffalo and llama in their petting zoo.)
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. Bishop’s 300 acres are also home to llamas, goats and alpacas that live in the 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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