Fall is right around the corner, and that can only mean one thing: apple- and pumpkin-picking and fall festivals galore! Here are our favorites for nearby farm fun—all under a ninety minute drive or convenient train ride from the city. While we highlight special attractions at each farm below, please note that most of them are known for their classic apple and pumpkin selections. Be sure to check their websites for all of their offerings and call ahead to confirm hours before treating yourself to fresh fruit, cider doughnuts, petting zoos, and much, much more.
And, in case you missed it, check out our other wonderful fall outdoors roundup of our favorite nearby leafy oases for foliage fun.
APPLES AND PUMPKINS GALORE
There’s nothing like the picking experience to make your apples and pumpkins taste sweeter—and many farms around the city take their produce very seriously. Even the littlest of family members can reach the dwarf tree apples at Pennings Orchard (penningsorchard.com) in Warwick, NY, which offers 15 varieties of apples—plus all the works for an old fashioned hoedown. Another bonus: pets on leashes are welcome, too. Over the border in New Jersey, Riamede Farm (riamede.com) offers a whopping 34 apple varieties for the true enthusiast, as well as on-the-vine pumpkins that are becoming more and more difficult to find elsewhere. For the ultimate pumpkin pit, Hank’s Pumpkintown (hankspumpkintown.com) in Southampton features pumpkins of all sizes for families to pick from, plus calf roping, corn swings, and a giant maze mountain slide.
For the health conscious, Long Island’s Organics Today Farm (organicstoday.net) has three acres of organic pumpkins ready to be picked straight off the vine. As favorites farther north in the Hudson Valley area, both Mr. Apples (mrapples.com) and Stone Ridge Orchard (stoneridgeorchard.com) use sustainable farming practices to grow their fruit, minimizing the use of sprays.
OTHER COOL FRUITS & VEGGIES
While apples and pumpkins are fall staples, they’re not the only fruits that lend to picking fun. Besides the two standards, Calverton’s Fritz Lewin Farms (631-727-3346) also boasts a host of other fruits and vegetables like strawberries, corn, and tomatoes. Throughout the fall season, Lawrence Farms Orchards (lawrencefarmsorchards.com) in Newburgh, NY, offers a diverse selection of sweet and savory produce including pears, peppers, peaches, cabbage, and broccoli. Barton Orchards (bartonorchards.com) is well-known upstate for its apples, but veggie-loving fams will love its squash and green beans too—and its Harvest Season celebration of games, live music, homemade treats, and other activities doesn’t hurt either. Which brings us to…
FALL FESTIVAL FUN
As long as you’re making the trip, you might as well make a day out of it. Local farms are becoming increasingly synonymous with fall festivals—and Long Island’s Harbes Family Farm (harbesfamilyfarm.com) is a case in point with pony rides, four different corn mazes, and pig races. Fink’s Country Farm (finksfarm.com), just half an hour west of Harbes, is strictly for families and features corn cannons, calf roping, a barnyard bouncer, a kiddie train, and unlimited hay rides starting at the end of the month. With special events every weekend during the fall harvest, Orchards of Concklin (theorchardsofconcklin.com) is also a wonderful playground in Pomona, NY, with a blow-up haunted house, half-acre corn maze, and giant slide.
If that’s still not enough excitement, Hurd’s Family Farm (hurdsfamilyfarm.com) in Modenia, NY, has already begun its bustling Fall Festival, where kids can delight in launching apples, feeding the fish, and walking an Eco-Discovery Trail. Finally, in the last week of the month, Schmitt’s Family Farm (schmittfarms.com) in Melville, Long Island will be host to a straw pyramid, free hay rides, pony rides, a pumpkin patch playground, and different sized slides. Older kids especially look forward to visiting on September 30, when a haunted mansion and corn maze will make a deliciously spooky night-time adventure.
ALL ABOUT ANIMALS
What’s a farm without barnyard animals? For a petting zoo experience of a different kind, Silverman’s Farm (silvermansfarm.com) in Connecticut goes beyond the usual barnyard critters with buffalos, llamas, emu, and other exotic animals to feed and play with—not to mention scenic tractor rides with a view of the Long Island Sound. But you can actually find authentic farm festivities right in New York City. Queens County Farm Museum (queensfarm.org), filled with historic farm buildings and vehicles, raises animals like goats, pigs, and bees, while the neighboring Green Meadows Farm (visitgreenmeadowsfarm.com) offers pony rides and cow milking alongside their own petting farm. If you’re intent on pure animal fun without all the orchard bells and whistles, Manhattan’s very own The Art Farm In The City (theartfarms.org) organizes weekend morning animal feedings and “part-time pet” programs, where children help care for animals that stay on the farm.
One of our favorite family farm events in the city is the Annual Queens County Fair, now going on its 30th year on September 22 and 23. This festival offers everything you’d expect from a traditional state fair and then some–with crafts, hayrides, carnival rides, recycling tips, planting advice, and more. Enter your livestock, produce, or home crafts into the blue ribbon competition or, if eating is your specialty, prepare your taste buds for the pie eating contest. Don’t forget to adopt a worm for your family compost bin on your way out! queensfarm.org