September and October are our favorite months to tour the Pennsylvania U-Pick farms for apple and pumpkin picking. Even a day in the fields can make a long weekend in the great family-friendly city of Philadelphia seem like a full vacation.
This year, keep in mind that to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, many U-pick farms require face coverings and advance reservations. Check their websites before you go. Some have altered their hours to limit the crowds and maintain social distancing as well.
So whether you are looking to pick fruit, teach the kids about Mother Nature, practice healthy eating, go on a hayride, get lost in a corn maze, or buy fresh baked goods, my directory of local Philadelphia area and Gettysburg (a wonderful family-welcoming historic region) pick-your-own farms will help you choose the right one.
For a complete guide to apple picking orchards and farms across the country, visit check out the FTF Guide to Top U-Pick Farms in the US.
Fruit and Vegetable Harvests in Pennsylvania
In the spring and fall there are many seasonal fruit picking opportunities that are great for the whole family. Several farms and orchards are within a 60-mile radius of Philadelphia and, since the economics of family farming have changed so much, you’ll find that most of our favorites offer a surprising variety of produce that they pick, or you pick.
Before you head out, consider what you’ll do with the fruit or vegetables you pick and collect some recipes. With apples, the most popular varieties for eating include the Macintosh, Empire, Fuji and Honeycrisp. If sauces or pies are in the plan (and you and the kids can assemble them and put them in the freezer to be baked at a later date), try the Cortland, Golden Delicious, Russet and Mutsu.
In the Gettysburg area, the climate is such that several varieties peak as late as October and November. Nittany, Winesap, Enterprise and Idared apples are versatile enough to be eaten fresh, cooked into sauce, or baked into delicious pies. Braeburn, Fuji and Granny Smith apples can be picked into November, so there’s no excuse not to make fresh apple pies for Thanksgiving.
Not traveling in fall? In late spring and summer, families can pick berries. Remember that berries will need to be consumed quickly — fresh or in pies — or, remove any stems, wash them thoroughly and dry them, then store in a zip-loc bag in the freezer. If you come home with too many vegetables, it gives you an opportunity to try different soups.
There is no charge to enter the farms; note that no pets are allowed on most of the farms.
Favorite Philadelphia Area Pick Your Own Farms
The Highland Orchards Farm Market & Bakery has been farming its 200 acres since 1941. It isn’t exactly all things to all people, but it’s popular in mid-September when their fall harvest weekends mean apples are ready to pick. You’ll find hayrides, a cow milker, pumpkin patch and more, plus apple cider donuts voted a prestigious “Best of Philly” award.
A better option for the activity-obsessed family is Linvilla, which some locals liken to Disneyland. In addition to robust picking opportunities among 25 apple varietals, Linvilla has a stocked trout pond, beer garden, regular story time, yoga classes and a really tricked out pumpkin patch that will get Halloween juices flowing early. If it’s hot outside, inquire about day passes to use their two pools, each a local swimming club.
Another farm we like close to the city is Shady Brook Farm which runs an Unwined concert series on their patio in summer when visitors come for the u-pick vegetables opportunity. In August and September, they turn their attention to apples, the season that overlaps with peaches and pumpkins, too. Take a wagon ride out to the fields for some extra fun and be warned, from mid-September to the end of October there’s a corn maze and some spooky stuff going on as part of their Fall Fest, Pumpkin Fest and Horror Fest weekends.
Favorite Gettysburg Area Pick Your Own Farms
Not exactly in the Philly flight path, but very close to Gettysburg for those making a historical visit, the Hollabaugh Brothers Fruit Farm in Biglerville was voted one of USA Today’s ‘top 10 apple picking orchards’ in the U.S. This enormous farm, in operation since 1955, is famous for its farmstand which boasts a wide variety of fruits and vegetables all grown on property. At their U Pick Bin, visitors can reach into a trunk full of apples and select your favorite varietal. Throughout September, expect to find Hollabaugh’s home-grown peaches, nectarines, pears and Asian pears.
For tradition, we like Boyer Nurseries & Orchards, also in Biglerville, which comes alive in mid June with cherry picking. Not only is their crew hard at work, you can also borrow a ladder and set out to pick your own. Self-pickers will find every kind of stone fruit growing in summer: peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots. When the leaves begin turning, the Boyer barn and fruit market stands host colorful squash, gourds, and Indian corn. Every kind of apple you can think of — including a selection of heritage apples — and a big selection of pumpkins in all sizes are on display. If you don’t want to pick your own (it’s open for U Pick from August 31-October 21, 2019), there’s plenty to buy, deli and live music most weekends.
U-Pick Farms for Pennsylvania Families & Visitors
Of the many orchards and produce farms in Pennsylvania, we liked the following the best for family staycations or weekend getaways.
Highland Orchards Farm Market & Bakery, 1000 Marshallton-Thorndale Road, West Chester, PA 19380 – 610/269-3494
Linvilla Orchards, 598 Linvilla Road, Media, PA 19063 – 610/876-7116
Shady Brook Farm, 931 Stony Hill Road, Yardley, PA 19067 – 215/968-1670
Merrymead Farm & Country Market, 2222 Valley Forge Road, Lansdale, PA 19446 – 610/584-4410 This dairy farm is packed with Holstein cattle and other farm animals, and does year round family programs in addition to a big pumpkin harvest festival. Don’t miss a scoop of their famous ice cream.
For family-friendly hotel ideas in the Philadelphia area, check out Family Travel Forum’s reviews. Here are the two top u-pick farms outside of Gettysburg, a fun family-friendly town with many interesting attractions and sites for kids.
Boyer Nurseries & Orchards, 405 Boyer Nursery Road, Biglerville, PA 17307 – 717/677-8558 or 717/677-9567
Hollabaugh Brothers Fruit Farm, 545 Carlisle Road, Biglerville PA 17307 – 717/677-8412
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