NEW JERSEY — The calendar says September and pumpkin spice is back, which means fall is just days away. Before heading out to get those Halloween pumpkins, be sure to plan an outing to go apple picking.
The Garden State is home to an abundance of apple orchards and grows 30 different varieties of the popular fruit. Many of New Jersey's apple orchards celebrate apples with an array of family-friendly activites like hayrides and corn mazes.
Here's are the top New Jersey farms and orchards ripe for apple picking this September.
- Battlefield Orchards in Freehold is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for apple picking, weather permitting. The family-owned orchard also offers hayrides on weekends. Book a group tour and learn how to make cider. Be sure to leave time to stop by the Battlefield Orchards' Country Market and Bakery for apple pie and other homemade treats.
- Eastmont Orchards in Colts Neck is open for apple picking Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastmont does not charge an admission fee and vistors pay by the pound for the apples picked. Plastic bags are provided for picking.
- Giamarese Farms and Orchards in East Brunswick offers apple picking through Columbus Day, October 14. On weekends, the farm offers hayrides, ponyrides and walks through the corn maze. Giamarese is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The farm is closed on Mondays, except for Columbus Day. Giamarese does not charge an admission fee, but tickets are required for rides and the corn maze.
- South Brunswick's Von Thun Farms opens for apple picking on September 21. Von Thuns is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The farm's popular Fall Festival Weekends begin on September 21. Activities such as the corn maze, hayride, face painting, pony rides and a pumpkin blaster are available on festival weekends. Different price packages are available for the farm's Fall Festival Weekends and can be purchased online.
- Terhune Orchards in Princeton is a popular fall spot in the Garden State. It is open daily and is offering apple picking through the end of October. Terhune's Apple Days Fall Harvest Festivals run through October 27. The farm is open on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on festival weekends. The admission fee on festival weekends are $10. Children under three are free. Admission includes most of the activities, although some like the pony rides are extra.
- Chester's Alstede Farms offers visitors apple picking and extras activities every day along with a full calendar of events all year long. Pick-your-own apples is available daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. An admission fee is required.
- Also in Chester, Riamede Farms offers a walk-in orchard for apple picking. The farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Hayrides get rolling on weekends and are free. Hayrides are also available on Columbus Day.
- Wightman Farm is open for apple and peach picking this month. The Morristown farm is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. In order to pick your own apples or peaches, visitors age 3 and up must purchase a membership card for $7. The membership card lasts from strawberry picking season through the end of apple picking. Picking containers are provided and the price is determined by weight.
- Sun High Orchards in Randolph is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and charges a $2 fee to pick apples. Pack a lunch; picnic tables are available. Snacks like apple cider donuts are for sale in the orchards' market.
- Apple picking is on at Longmeadow Farm in Hope. The farm is open on Saturday and Sunday in September and October from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fifteen varieties of apples are ready for eating.