Fall Spotlight: Farms, Orchards and You-Picks

Updated and ready for Fall 2016: We’re talking apple-pickin’, hayrides, corn mazes, cider donuts … Read more

You Pick Farms, Philadelphia

It’s just about here, you guys — the time of year when packing the kids in the car to go pick apples or pumpkins at some picturesque farm outside city limits basically becomes a parental obligation. But unlike some other seasonal parental obligations (ahem, waiting to see the mall Santa), this one is actually fun, especially when you factor in the cider/hayrides/corn maze hoopla that tend to characterize these lovely fall weekends. Here’s our updated list of 8 tried-and-true farms and orchards worth the outing now. 

The spot: Linvilla Orchards
The location: Media
The goods: There’s a huge selection of pick-your-own stuff here: apples, pears, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, flowers, and more. When it comes to pumpkins, you can choose from the thousands that are scattered about the grounds.
The activities: Barnyard with animals, playground, train rides, face-painting …. and that’s just the normal line-up. From early September through early November, Linvilla also hosts Pumpkinland, which features, yes, pumpkins out the yang, as well as pony rides, day- and nighttime hayrides, corn mazes, and apple sling, candy apples, and more. There’s also the Apple Festival on September 24 and 25, with special games, entertainment, pie-eating contests, and more. 

The spot: Merrymead Farm
The location: Lansdale
The goods: Merrymead is a wonderful working dairy farm and market — you can see (but not touch) the animals; you can buy apples, pumpkins, gourds … not to mention baked goods and a dairy with the best ice cream ever; you can get local produce, meat, honey, plants … the whole deal.
The activities: Merrymead Fall Harvest Weekendsevery weekend in October, feature (cash only) hayrides, wagon rides, a cornstalk tunnel, pumpkin painting, farm animals, face-painting and more. A light lunch (hot dogs, burgers, cider donuts, etc.) is also available. Friday, September 30th marks the kickoff of Harvest Days, with the lighting of the Great Pumpkin, a performance by a children’s entertainer, storytelling, hayrides and more.

The spot: Johnson’s Corner Farm
The location: Medford, NJ
The goods: Johnson’s offers great pick-your-own hayrides: From mid-September until mid-October, you can pick apples; from mid-September until late October, you can pick pumpkins; for the month of November, you can pick popcorn (!), sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. (Good luck trying to sell the kids on the broccoli hayride.) There’s also markets with produce, ice cream, baked goods, jams, syrups, salad dressings, even a farm-fresh dinner-to-go.
The activities: Fall harvest festival weekends include live music, a bounce house, a food tent, a corn maze, cider donuts, apple pies (yes, cider donuts and apple pies ARE activities, if you eat them the right way), and more. There’s also always the Discovery Barnyard, which includes playgrounds, a couple of pedal “go-cart” tracks, and a petting zoo.

Johnson corner farm

Johnson’s Corner Farm

The spot: Solebury Orchards 
The location: New Hope
The goods: Apples are the name of the game here in the autumn — people rave over the apple crops every year. Apples and a variety of flowers are in season right now for picking (flowers through October 12; apples through November 6); you can also just pick some up at the market (along with fresh cider and cider donuts and cider slushies and applesauce!); throughout the fall. And yes, Solebury offers hayrides out to the apple orchards.
The activities: It’s mostly just the apple-picking hayride and the picking (and the cider donuts) here, along with some other fruit- and veggie-picking. Plenty to keep everyone busy for a couple hours — and devotees seem to appreciate the relative calm.

The spot: Highland Orchards
The location: West Chester
The goods: Pumpkin and apple harvest usually runs from early- or mid-September through the end of October. There’s also a bakery with beautiful homemade pies.
The activities: Fall Harvest Weekends (Sept. 10 through Halloween) include a kid’s hay maze, hayrides, scarecrow building, walking tours, the requisite cider donuts, and more. In October, there’s also story times and a nighttime hayride.

The spot: Shady Brook Farms
The location: Yardley
The goods: There’s a healthy pick-your-own schedule: October is … wait for it … apple and pumpkin season (as well as other fruits and veggies). And there’s also a farm market stocked with fresh produce, homemade ice cream and baked goods. You know the drill by now!
The activities: Fall Fest weekends (which are split between AppleFest in September and PumpkinFest in October) run from September 10 through Halloween — we’re talking pick-your-own apples and/or pumpkins, with wagon rides to the orchard/patch; a giant corn maze; inflatables; something called the “barn of horror, junior”, pig races, live entertainment, pony rides, corn cannons, paint ball, and more.

The spot: The Market at DelVal
The location: Doylestown
The goods: As part of Fall Fest (weekends, Sept. 24 to Nov. 6) you can pick pumpkins and apples, but the market also carries already- picked produce, baked goods, sandwiches, and ice cream.
The activities: The Fall hoopla is includes wagon rides to go pumpkin-picking, plus inflatables, a corn maze, wagon rides, an animal education tent, and more. There are also a handful of events scattered across the weekends, like on Saturday,  Sept. 24, when you can watch the growers of the biggest pumpkins in the area come weigh in (several of them are upwards of 1,000 pounds!), or Oct. 1 and 2, when you can make a scarecrow. (There’s also “trunk-or-treating”, moonlit maze nights, and more.

The spot: Frecon Farms
The location: Boyertown
The goods: In the fall, you can pick red raspberries, 16 varieties of apples, pears and, in October, pumpkins and squash. Oh, and sunflowers!
The activities: Frecon farms doesn’t have the whole fall-fest things happening per se, but no matter — it’s truly gorgeous, and the trek to the farm itself, along with the picking, is a special outing. (Bring the camera!) There’s an onsite bakery with all kinds of breads, pies, donuts, pot pies and more. (Also: Adults will appreciate that Frecon has a well-known cidery.)

Like this post? Check out: 
The Wee Guide to the Best Gardens and Parks.
Wee Spotlight on Merrymead Farm.
Wee Spotlight on Johnson’s Corner Farm.