The Perks:

With so many lovely fall orchards to choose from, you can pick a new one each weekend this season. My family's favorite Fall venue, however, remains Riamede Farm in Chester. The 35-acre orchard boasts 34 pick-your-own apple varieties including Galas, Delicious, Greening, and Winesap (our fave).

You can call ahead to find out the picking report for a particular day. While you are there, you also can visit the pumpkin patch, and cut your pumpkin right off of the vine: BYO shears! There is also a free hayride on the weekends (weekday hayrides are for school trips only) and they even provide free wagons to tote your apples and/or children.

My 22 month-old son spent a good 2 hours just being pushed around, feasting on big, juicy apples. Oh, the photo opportunities!!!

Riamede also has a cute, little shop that sells cider, baked goods, and some really yummy apple and pumpkin butter that I stock up on every year. On weekends there is usually a stand selling hot dogs and hot cider.

Afterwards head to Chester's adorable downtown for lunch, if you have room after sampling all of those apples! We usually skip lunch and head straight for Taylor's Homemade Ice-Cream (18 Main Street) for Pumpkin Ice Cream: Yum!

The Poops:

It can get really, really crowded. Come early to ensure a short line for the hayride and to snatch your wagon before they are all gone.

For more information: 

Riamede Farm, 122 Oakdale Road, Chester, NJ 07930 (908)-879-5353 www.riamede.com