Ah, pumpkin-picking (and apple-picking/hayride-taking/cider-donut-eating) season: You’re back again. Lucky for all us city folk, there are a ton of options when it comes time for the requisite field trip to go soak in some autumnal wonder. (Check out our list from past years!) Today, though, we’re zeroing in on one of the most iconic spots in the bunch: Linvilla Orchards.
Linvilla is wildly popular, in part because the place is huge and established (it’s been around for a century), but also because it’s a veritable mecca of family-friendly fall stuff, all there in one spot. To wit: You can stock up on pumpkins, pick apples, buy homemade pies and mums, go on hayrides, shop for candy apples, eat fresh cider donuts, drink cider as a hot drink or a slushie, throw apples from a slingshot, fling rings around a pumpkin, and listen to a storytelling witch. (There’s also a massive playground that is quite the kid-magnet, as well as barnyard animals to ogle, pony rides, face-painting, live music, tons of food, a pond for fishing and more.)
The place has a bit of a county-fair vibe during the fall months, especially if you go on a weekend, when it feels like the whole world is shopping for pumpkins. The in-the-know regulars go early on weekends, or — even better — on weekdays. (One family I know swears by going after school.) Your own perfect Linvilla day depends on what your family likes to do, of course, but if you have littles, I’d recommend choosing three or four things to hit, as opposed to trying to wander the whole place, which may feel like a bit much with small children. A few other things to consider:
–The autumn harvest hayrides are a must-do: They’re a solid 20 minutes, and give you a great tour of the farm. One thing: You sit on piles of hay, not tidy bales. Which means you should wear jeans, not leggings. (Side note from a city slicker: Who knew how easily straw pokes straight through leggings into flesh?) The harvest moon ride sounds even more awesome, as it ends with marshmallows roasting over a campfire. And the hayride to the witch’s house offers all that plus a stop to see a (friendly) witch for a story.
—The apples are huge and delicious, and the orchard is currently growing Stayman Winesap, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Mutsu, Cameo & Aztec Fuji.
–Linvilla makes/sells some of the best cider I’ve had. You won’t want to leave without grabbing a jug on your way out. (Big tubs of the stuff are located outside the farm market for easy access.)
–There are lots of options when it come to concessions (again, think county-fair: burgers, cheesesteaks, fries, cotton candy, popcorn, candy apples, and so forth), and also, of course, a farm market. But the one thing I would insist that you snack on are the cider donuts. (Talk about a Philly must-have for fall.) If you’re looking to save cash, I might even suggest packing your own little lunch — there are picnic tables on the premises for dining — and supplementing with donuts, cider and whatever other treats from the bakery or market strike you.
–The sprawling playground, a definite crowd-pleaser, also contains a child-sized maze (sans corn stalks) if the larger straw bale- or corn mazes don’t appeal to your crew.
–Hey, y’all: It’s a farm. Wear boots or sneakers: Your flats will get mulch in them. (Learned this the hard way.)
–Seriously, I would scan the site before you go — there’s so much to do (I didn’t even touch on the pony rides!), and the website is quite thorough in terms of laying it all out for you. A tiny bit of a game plan will help a lot once you get there.
If you’ve been there done that, see also the Wee spotlight on Johnson’s Corner Farm and Merrymead. You should also maybe check out our 2016 list of area farms and orchards, which isn’t fully updated for 2017, but which will give you some ideas about other spots to hit.