Celebrate Apple and Pumpkin Season and Halloween – New Jersey and New York Farms are Great Fun

Halloween. Photo: B. Keer

Oh, wonderful October! Leaf peepers may want to schedule road trips to look at the brilliant mosaic of colors adorning the maples and oaks, but for the family, October is the time for pumpkin patches, corn mazes, apple picking and hayrides. With trick or treating still under discussion and Oktoberfest venues opening and closing with changing rules and regulations, it’s a good idea to call before you go anywhere during this unusual year. This applies to the farms listed below, too. If possible, try to book an event with your own pod so you can enjoy a masked experience without the worry of stranger social distancing.

NEW YORK CITY

New York City’s boroughs have some intriguing farm experiences.

The historic Queens Country Farm Museum in Floral Park, Queens offers weekend activities throughout October. The farm, owned by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, dates back to 1697 and occupies New York City’s largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland. Plan a visit to go pumpkin picking or navigate a maze, or hop on a hayride. The farm’s Amazing Maize Maze is designed in the shape of Van Gogh’s famous sunflower. Schedule the October 24 nighttime experience online  — the maze books out quickly.

73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Queens; 718-347-3276 www.queensfarm.org 

An officially designated historic landmark, Decker Farm in Springville, Staten Island is New York City’s oldest continuously working family-style farm. 220 years young, the farm is a joy to visit during October with hayrides for the family that meander past costumed artisans performing 19th-century trades. For those willing to try some new-fangled activities, the farm lets you sign up for three tries of pumpkin chucking.  Purchase a timed-entry ticket for a weekend visit online. 

435 Richmond Hill Road, Staten Island, 917-887-0482 https://www.historicrichmondtown.org/deckerfarm

LONG ISLAND

The North Fork of Long Island turns October into a musical event at Harbes Family Farm. Just an hour and half from New York City, the Mattituck farm treats you to scenic hayrides complete with singing. Weekend activities add pig races and a family favorite, the Barnyard Adventure area with farm animals, sport zones and mazes. Be sure to pack your patience along with your masks and hand sanitizer. The traffic along Sound Avenue regularly bottlenecks in Jamesport and Mattituck on the weekends. Ticket information is available online.

715 Sound Ave, Mattituck, NY; 631-298-0800 www.harbesfamilyfarm.com 

You can skip the traffic snarls of the North Fork by heading South to the true Hamptons, the South Fork of Long Island, to two wonderful farm locales.

At Corwiths Farmstand in Water Mill, you can do the U-pick pumpkin thing and relax for a while the kids slide down the wooden slides, play a game on the giant Connect 4 in the field or climb on the wooden castles and trains. There are also barrel train rides, hayrides, barnyard animal feeding and a racetrack for pedal carts.  Still not enough to keep everyone busy? Try your hand at pumpkin bowling. If you’ve had your fill of everything pumpkin and gourd, this is also the place for goat yoga, even more beautiful now against a backdrop of haystacks and pumpkins. Corwiths makes sure that you won’t go hungry either. Their food trailer is where you can get roasted local sweet corn, homemade potato chips from the farm’s own potatoes as well as a bit of the South with fried apples and fried Oreos. Tickets are only $10 and can purchased at the farm. Open daily. 

851 Head of Pond Rd, Water Mill, NY www.corwithsfarmstand.com 

Water Mill is also where you’ll find expansive Hank’s Pumpkin Town. You’ll know it immediately by the cars parked on either side of the road. It’s open daily and no reservations are required so be prepared for crowds and waits. You’ll find the usual family-friendly activities here: pumpkin picking, corn mazes, tractor train rides, and mega slides for the kids. After all that fun, your reward is Hank’s yummy Fall for Y’All hot apple cider topped with whipped cream, a caramel drizzle, and an apple cider donut, served in a take-home souvenir mug.

249 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, NY; www.hankspumpkintown.com 

NEW JERSEY

Two farms in Morris County, New Jersey offer scenic farm experiences, a mere 80-minute drive from New York City.

You can book a private wagon ride at Riamede Farm in Chester, New Jersey weekdays in October for a tour of the farm’s pumpkin patches and apple orchards. If you prefer to meander on your own, the farm is open to visitors on weekends as well and you can grab some pumpkins and gourds to decorate your home. A Farm Pass is required for entry and must be purchased in advance. 

122 Oakdale Road, Chester, NJ; 908-879-5353 www.riamede.com  

A second farm in Chester, Alstede Farms goes maze crazy this October with a sunflower maze, evergreen maze and a corn maze, all designed to drive you just a bit crazy while soaking up the crisp fall air. You can pick your own apples or opt for a tractor-drawn wagon ride, too. If you’re starved for something to do at night, they even have an evening hayride on weekends. Live music follows by the bonfire with hot apple cider, food, wine, and s’mores kits to refresh.  Book tickets in advance online.

1 Alstede Farms Lane, Chester, NJ; 908-879-7189 www.alstedefarms.com 

Unless otherwise noted, all photos are courtesy of Meryl Pearlstein

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