So, let’s start with this: I don’t really find large group activities fun. I want to like festivals and fairs. I even continue to go to such things, but in the end, I do one lap, pass on any iconic experience where the line is too long, and call it a day after 20 minutes.
Last summer, when I saw that there was a blueberry festival near where my parents live, I thought to myself: This is it! Now that I have a kid, I’ll love petting zoos and tractor rides! You see where I’m going with this, right? I think our total clock-in was 18 minutes; my parents lead the charge to the car, and Quinn and I are pretty sure Sasha got the bird flu there.
So when my friend suggested we take the kids to Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford (a 35-minute drive from Center City), I was doubtful.
I was wrong. It was awesome. First, the whole place is clean (and filled with hand washing stations) and organized (lots of staff to help direct visitors). Basically, the crew at Johnson’s runs a fall festival every single weekend, so at this point it’s a lovely, well-oiled machine ready to create your family memories.
What to expect (plus lots of tips!): Get there early. Aim for the 10 a.m. opening time, because it gets crowded. Buy a bunch of tickets (this day isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it). I suggest you head straight to the tractor ride. You won’t have to wait because you’ve taken my advice and got there early and did this first. (Trust me.)
The first stop on the tractor ride is the apple orchard. It’s impressive, with rows of beautiful trees ripe with huge, grapefruit-sized apples, listed by variety — so you know you are getting your favorite type. (Pink lady for me, please.)
As delish as it looked, in order to preserve nap time, we skipped this and headed straight to the next stop — Pumpkin Town. Here, you wander through the field and actually pick pumpkins off the vine. (When I was little, pumpkins were just dump-trucked onto a dirt patch, so this was a major upgrade.) After you’ve found your pumpkin soulmate, make your way over to the tented station area to wait for the next tractor to arrive. It’s kinda like SEPTA, but it actually shows up on time.
Back at the entrance, you’ll jump off the tractor, where cashiers stand ready to ring up your fresh-picked bounty. Now I suggest you do what we didn’t, which is have someone run the pumpkins back to the car, because carrying a screaming 25 pound child and a 25 pound pumpkin is not fun.
There are many post-picking diversions to choose from next: A petting zoo; a huge playground; some farm-store shopping. We headed over to the petting zoo (besides the animals, there are tunnels and slides and a bouncy bridge). Then it was obviously lunch time for us (see above: screaming toddler). The food tent was in the parking lot, which was outfitted with ample picnic table seating and a bluegrass band. We had above-average chicken fingers, tater tots, and hot dogs covered in pulled pork. The farm store is impressive and worthy of a spin — sorta like the country version of DiBrunos. The apple cider donuts were so good, I’d put them up against FedNuts.
Now, I wouldn’t want to do this every weekend, but I could see how it would be fun once a season — they switch out the pumpkins for blueberries in the summer and the scarecrows for Santas in the winter. And it’s an awesome half- or full day activity that out-of-town guests and grandparents would love.
Meets the Wee standards: