Lifestyle

Where to Go Apple Picking in New Jersey

The best apple orchards for families, New Yorkers looking for an escape, and hard cider enthusiasts.

If you’re having trouble getting into the fall spirit, plan a trip to an apple orchard. In fact, just start thinking about the act of apple picking and you’ll find yourself craving pumpkin-scented candles, cozy throw blankets, and a hay ride in no time. Lucky for East Coasters, there is no shortage of farms and orchards in New Jersey offering pick-your-own apple experiences.

As you can imagine, farms are taking extra precautions this season in light of COVID-19. Since this is an outdoor activity -- and the CDC recommends prioritizing local, outdoor activities over indoor activities -- you’re already on track for a safe, fantastic fall day. In addition to masks being required by all the farms on this list, the biggest change you’ll notice when planning your apple-picking adventure this year is that many locations are requiring, or strongly suggesting, that you make online reservations ahead of time. This helps the staff monitor how many people are on the property at any given time and better adhere to social-distancing guidelines.

Ahead, you’ll find 10 New Jersey spots where you can tick “apple-picking” off of your fall activity list -- and then some. Many of these farms are still holding fall celebrations, with added COVID precautions, and offer far more than pick-your-own opportunities. Plus, they’re all easy to drive to from NYC.

Demarest Farms

Hillsdale, New Jersey
Before you head to Demarest Farms, make sure to book an online reservation. This is required to get you into the orchard for your own apple picking. The farm has posted an extensive check-in process on its website alongside the reservation requirements, so make sure and bring your mask. If you’re looking to make a day of it, plan a trip on one of Demarest’s movie nights. There’s also a shop at the farm that sells baked goods made onsite, flowers, produce, and more.
Distance from NYC: 45 minutes by car
Cost: $7 per person (age two and older — children under 2 are free). This includes parking and entrance to the orchard. Each apple bag costs $12 and holds 10-12 lbs of apples.

Giamarese Farm & Orchards

East Brunswick, New Jersey
Giamarese Farm & Orchards is updating its website to share the apple varieties that are prime for picking, so check in before you venture over. Aside from apple picking, you can also visit the greenhouse and market for plants and baked goods, hop on a hay ride on Saturdays and Sundays in October, or check out the corn maze. Giamarese is open Wednesday through Saturday 10am to 6pm and on Sundays from 10am to 3pm. Depending on when you visit, you’ll find a wide variety of apples.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour by car
Cost: Admission to the farm is free, some pick-your-own varieties will require a minimum fee. Expect to pay for apples by the bag.

Hillview Farms

Gillette, New Jersey
The 53-acre Hillview Farms has blueberries and peaches in the summer months, and becomes open for apple picking come September. With the daily Farm Market (open from 9am to 6pm) and more apple cider donuts than you could eat in an entire season, it’s a great spot to take in the fall scenes. This working farm has been in the same family for five generations and it’s pretty hard to believe it’s only 20 miles from New York City. On the weekends in October, you can catch a ride on a tractor tour between the apple orchard and pumpkin patch.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour by car
Cost: $5 entrance fee, expect to pay for apples by the bag and call for exact pricing.

Ripple Hill Farm

Basking Ridge, New Jersey
If you’re looking to go apple picking and also get to know the family behind the produce, head to Ripple Hill Farm. This second-generation farming family has been growing apples (and peaches and tomatoes) for more than 50 years and opens up for pickers in early September, specifically Sundays from 12pm to 4pm. You can also purchase other produce grown on the property from the farm stand, which is open during picking hours.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour by car
Cost: There is no entry fee for the farm, but apples are $2.50 per pound -- note that this farm only accepts cash.

Wightman Farms

Morristown, New Jersey
The same family has been growing produce on this land since 1922. Way back when, you’d be buying your fruits and vegetables from a table across the street from what is now the market and cider mill. Today, you can visit and pick your own apples on Saturdays and Sundays. Wightman Farms does not take advance reservations, but you do need a ticket -- which can be purchased on-site -- before entering the orchards. There’s also a picnic area, and a farm market if you’re in need of al fresco snacks.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour by car
Cost: Each apple-picker above the age of three requires a membership card that can be purchased for $7 -- it’s good for an entire year. Apples are $2.39 per pound.

Melick’s Town Farm

Oldwick, New Jersey
The largest apple orchard in New Jersey truly delivers on fall flavors: not only can you pick your own apples (but book a reservation online first!), but you can also sip homemade apple wine on your visit. In addition to hard cider, you can also purchase non-alcoholic apple cider made in the farm in the shop. Apple picking kicks off in early September and runs through the second week of November.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour and five minutes by car
Cost: You must make a reservation on the website prior to your visit, which will cost $2.99 per apple picker. Expect to pay for apples by the bag and call for exact pricing.

Von Thun’s Country Farm Market

Washington, New Jersey
Every weekend between September 19 and November 1, Von Thun’s hosts Fall Fun events. While they will look a bit different this year to better adhere to social distancing guidelines, you’ll still be able to visit the apple orchard, pumpkin patch, and activity area which includes hay rides, pumpkin bowling, corn hole, barnyard basketball, and pedal carts. You can also purchase a ticket to explore the corn maze. In short, this is a great farm to visit if you have kids in tow.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour and 10 minutes by car
Cost: All apple pickers over the age of three will need to purchase a $3 Picking Pass. Expect to pay for apples by the pound and call for exact pricing.

Alstede Farms

Chester, New Jersey
There are more than 50 apple varieties at Alstede Farms throughout the fall season. You have to book a picking reservation online before your visit; each ticket comes with a timed entry. Don’t be late because you’ll still be expected to leave the apple-picking area once your ticket has expired. Your entry ticket will also get you access to hay rides, the corn maze, an evergreen maze, the hay pyramid, and the sunflower maze. The farm also hosts regular events and festivals, which you can read up on here.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour and 15 minutes by car
Cost: You’ve got options: Each apple picker will need to purchase an entry ticket, but you also have to make a reservation for access to the orchards. Online, you can purchase an entry ticket and a quarter-peck bag for $19.99. You can also add on an extra pint for $6.99 or an extra quarter-peck bag for $7.99.

Battleview Orchards

Freehold, New Jersey
Battleview Orchards posts frequent updates on pick-your-own hours and varieties on their Facebook page, which will come in handy as regional COVID guidelines change. With this in mind, the farm requests that you call to check in on picking hours, but the Country Store is open from 9am to 6pm every day (except Tuesdays), so you can always purchase produce, fresh-pressed cider, and other goods if you miss out on the open picking time. But the best part is that Battleview offers up some apple recipe recommendations for the produce you picked on the farm (think: slow-cooked baked apples, apple pie, and apple crisp).
Distance from NYC: 1 hour and 15 minutes by car
Cost: Good news! There is no entrance fee for apple picking. But the farm only accepts cash at the picking areas -- expect to pay for apples by the pound and call for exact pricing. 

Johnson’s Corner Farm

Medford, New Jersey
Apple picking kicks off in early September at Johnson’s Corner Farm, which is known for its family friendly attractions and events. There are ten different apple varieties grown at this orchard throughout the season: Early Fuji, Empire, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Staymen, Fuji, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Cameo, and Gold Rush. When you’ve done your share of apple picking, check out the gem mining station, corn maze, or try an apple cider slush. You can reserve your picking time on the Johnson’s Corner Farm website.
Distance from NYC: 1 hour and 30 minutes by car
Cost: Entry fee of $5 per picker, apples are $1.99 per pound.

Check out our other guides to the best apple picking and orchards to visit in New York and Boston.

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Erika Owen is a Thrillist contributor.