Apple Picking in New Jersey
Fall is just around the corner, but don’t let colder temperatures keep you from exploring New Jersey! Fall just means that it’s time to take the family out to the orchards to pick fresh apples. Afterall, fall is the perfect season for baking, and freshly picked apples from your local orchard make it all that much better. Apple season in New Jersey tends to range between September to October, but it can begin as early as July too. It is, of course, heavily dictated by weather conditions, so regardless of when it’s always best to call the orchard ahead of time. We also recommend to bring cash, rather than hope that the orchards accept credit cards. You may arrive at the orchard and find far more to do than just picking apples. Many orchards in New Jersey offer activities like hayrides and even corn mazes, so be prepared for a full day of fun in the fall.
Apples in New Jersey
With over 240 farms that cultivate roughly 4,000 acres of land, New Jersey truly lives up to its nickname of The Garden State. However, despite having so many farms, New Jersey is not a major player in apple production across the United States. The state ranks roughly 13th for volume of apples produced, but this still represents around 65 million pounds of apples grown annually from dozens of varieties of apples grown in New Jersey. In fact, New Jersey has upwards of 30 different varieties of apples grown in the state. The oldest of which is the Winesap apple, which dates all the way back to the late 1700s. Though the true origin of the Winesap is unknown, it is speculated to have originated in New Jersey. As well as the Winesap, New Jersey orchards are also home to Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Honeycrisp apples, among many many others.
Tips for a Successful Orchard Day
Once it’s officially harvesting season, we recommend these tips to make sure that you maximize your fun in the orchards.
- Call ahead. It’s always best to check what’s actually available to pick in the orchard, otherwise, you may find yourself high and dry.
- Be Cautious. Bees and wasps are critical insects in the orchard and won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.
- Pick with purpose. If there’s a particular dish you’d like to use the apples to bake with, then talk to the farmer! They’ve got the experience necessary to point you to the right apple for the treat you have in mind.
- Be respectful of the farm. Many farms have specific instructions to follow when you visit, whether for picking or otherwise.
- Leave your fur buddies behind. The orchards may already have their own dogs or four-legged creatures, so it’s best to leave yours at home.
Top 10 Apple Orchards in New Jersey
1) Alstede Farms
Alstede Farms has quickly developed to become a family favorite. Families can enjoy pick-your-own apples every day of the week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and even get free access to the pull wagons to help transport your harvest. Be sure to call ahead, as Alstede allows for much more pick-your-own than just apples. Here you’ll be able to find pumpkins, tomatoes, flowers, eggplant, peppers, string beans, and more. But that’s not all. Alstede also offers pony rides, moon bounces, wagon train rides, corn mazes, farm animals, and more! Over the weekends, Alstede plays host to many live Bluegrass acts, as well.
2) Battleview Orchards
This family-owned and operated farm in Freehold, New Jersey is known for more than just their pick-your-own apples. At Battlefield Orchards, visitors are invited to enjoy family hayrides, group classes on how to make apple cider, and in particular; to enjoy its country store (open year round!) which offers a variety of treats including their very popular apple pie. Though the country store is located just down the road from the orchard, Battleview offers families a great escape for the weekend.
3) Demarest Farms:
Located in Bergen County, Demarest Farms offers over 14 varieties of pick-your-own apples. Open seven days a week Demarest’s cost of admission is only $5 – which includes a hayride, corn maze, and a visit with the on-site farm animals. For $9, they’ll provide a bag that will hold all the apples you can pick, and the same deal goes for pumpkin picking! Be sure to visit their farm store, which offers visitors fresh produce, baked goods, and apple cider donuts made daily.
4) Giamarese Farm
Giamarese Farm, located in East Brunswick, NJ, offers pick-your-own apples from August all the way to Columbus Day, and specializes in non-GMO apples. Families can also enjoy hayrides throughout the farm’s Fall Harvest Weekends, and enjoy pony rides as well as a corn maze. Though the Farm is closed on Mondays, Giamarese offers families a wide variety of apples to pick, including Autumn Gala, Cameo, Empire, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Macoun, Royal Gala, and more.
5) Mackey’s Orchards
Looking for some variety? Look no further. Mackey’s Orchard grows over 100 different varieties of apples that can be picked between August and November. While pick-your-own is only offered on the weekends in September and October, there is plenty to do. Between a 15-minute hayride that offers scenic views of the orchard, to a playground and full apple bakery offering cider, donuts, dumplings, and more, families are sure to enjoy their time here. Mackey’s Orchard also offers a particularly unique “mile-high apple pie” made from over five pounds of apples!
6) Melick’s Orchards
Found just off of Route 78, Melick’s town Farm offers a variety of pick-your-own apples, including Empire, Macoun, and Cortland varieties. Over the weekends, visitors can also take advantage of free tractor wagon rides and even enjoy fresh apple cider from the Cider Mill. Melick’s Town Farms also offers two other locations, in Califon and Bridgewater, where you can pick your own pumpkins! Each location offers a large selection of seasonal fruit, vegetables, and baked goods.
7) Riamede Farm
Riamede Farm in Chester, New Jersey offers families a huge variety of apples to pick from, ranging from classics to modern favorites. Riamede is unique in that the orchard does not exactly cater to children. While there are free complimentary hayrides, the orchard is really aimed at true apple lovers. Families won’t find petting zoos or bounce houses, but they will find some of the best apples in the Garden State. We recommend calling every day to find out exactly what is being picked on a given day.
8) Ripple Hill Farm
Also found just off of Route 78, Ripple Hill Farm offers pick-your-own apples on Sundays through October, and even offers pumpkins for purchase to visitors in October. Open 12-4 p.m., Ripple Hill Farms offers a variety of apples, including Macintosh, Gala, and later in the season, Winesaps are available as well. Check their Facebook page for the most up to date information.
9) Stony Hill Farm, Market, & Gardens
Located in Chester, New Jersey, Stony Hill Farms is a family-owned farm and market that provides locally-grown produce, seasonal decor, and baked goods. This family farm offers tons of fun for everyone. Between pick-your-own apples, strawberries, and pumpkins, there is plenty to do. When you’re all finished in the orchards, spend some time in the maze fun park, where children can enjoy rope mazes, corn mazes, and even gemstone mining.
10) Sun High Orchard
Found in Randolph, NJ, Sun High Orchard offers families a large selection of pick-your-own apples, including Cortland, Macintosh, Honeycrisp, and even Empire varieties. Between enjoying the available hayrides, visiting the farm animals, and enjoying homemade ice cream, both kids and parents are sure to love visiting Sun High Orchards.
BONUS: Terhune Orchards & Winery
A renowned family favorite, Terhune Orchards offers a variety of activities to satisfy the whole family. With their Fall Family Fun Weekend, it makes it essential to stop by Terhune Orchards for their pick-your-own apple and pumpkins. Terhune also offers live music, pony rides, tractor drawn wagon rides, a hay bale maze, pumpkin painting, farm animals, and so much more! While you’re here, be sure to check out the Terhune Winery.
Go Apple Picking in New Jersey!
So what are you waiting for? Get out there! Enjoy fall and the beautiful apple orchards that New Jersey has to offer.