Now that autumn is nearly here, it’s time to head to Central Jersey farms to pick just the right Granny Smith, Honeycrisp or McIntosh apples right from the orchard.
Throughout Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex, Morris and Mercer counties, there are a multitude of farms that offer apple picking through the season, accompanied by fresh apple cider, wagon rides, petting zoos, fall décor shopping and more.
Here are five destinations that offer everything you need to make your own apple pie or apple crisp, or just pick up some apples to snack on.
Melick’s Town Farm in Califon and Oldwick
The family-run Melick’s Town Farm has 25,000 apple trees and 120 orchards spread over 650 acres. The farm, which has two locations that offer apple picking, is the largest apple grower in the state.
Through the second week of November, Melick’s Town Farm offers apple picking at its Califon Orchards and at the Cider Mill and orchard location in Oldwick. Plus, through most weekends in September and October, the business also has free wagon rides into the orchards in Oldwick and horse-drawn wagon rides at the Califon Orchards.
Here, you can also find fresh apple cider and fall decorations including mums, Indian corn, hay bales and corn shucks.
If you go: 19 King St., Oldwick; 908-439-3888 and 472 County Rd. 513, Califon; 908-832-2905; melickstownfarm.com
Giamarese Farm and Orchards in East Brunswick
Located on 35 acres, Giamarese Farm and Orchards has been in operation since 1941, and with a fun, family-friendly environment, it’s a great locale for you-pick activities including apple picking, which is available through Oct. 9.
Some of the apple varieties at Giamarese Farm and Orchards include Autumn Gala, Blushing Golden, Cameo, Cortland, Empire, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Jonathan and more.
Plus, during their fall harvest weekends which take place throughout October, you can also take a hayride tour, stroll through the corn maze and purchase mums, straw bales, corn stalks, gourds and other fall decorations.
If you go: 155 Fresh Ponds Road, East Brunswick; 732-821-9494, giamaresefarm.com
Ripple Hill Farm in Basking Ridge
Ripple Hill Farm, a small family-owned and operated farm run by second-generation farmers, may lack the bells and whistles of larger orchards, but with fresh apples available to be picked every Sunday throughout September and October, it’s a great destination for families looking for some quality time and hand-picked apples.
The farm’s apple trees are arranged on a flat stretch of land for easy picking. Visitors can find varieties such as Gala, McIntosh, Macoun, Granny Smith, Stayman Winesap, Laura Red Delicious, Red Delicious and more.
Plus, other produce, picked within hours of the stand opening, can be purchased as well.
If you go: 181 Mountain Road, Basking Ridge; ripplehillfarm.com
Terhune Orchards in Princeton
Terhune Orchards, equipped with a winery, farm store and farm yard and you-pick activities including apples, has always been a popular destination for those visiting Princeton – and now with fall in tow, it’s on many farmgoers’ to-do lists.
During September and October, Terhune Orchards’ pick-your-own farm on Van Kirk Road, just around the block from the home farm, is open daily; apples are sold by weight. Apple Days Fall Festival Weekends at the farm run Sept. 16 through Oct. 29, and tons of family-friendly activities are available.
Here, the dwarf trees are tied onto a wire trellis and kept short so all the apples are easy to pick from the ground. No ladders or long poles are needed.
If you go: 330 Cold Soil Road Princeton; 609-924-2310, terhuneorchards.com
Riamede Farm in Chester
As the first pick-your-own apple farm in the state with orchard doors opening in 1974, Riamede Farm’s 35 acres are known for their old seedling apple trees planted a half century ago as well as semi-dwarf and dwarf apple trees, along with everyone’s favorite modern apple varieties.
Riamede Farm features 34 varieties of apples ranging from traditional classics to heirloom specialties to modern picks. Apple varieties ripen through the end of October, and if you want to catch all of the varieties at their best, a weekly trip to Riamede is recommended.
Apple picking visitors can also opt to take a $2 hayride to the orchard, although it isn’t necessary to reach the trees.
If you go: 122 Oakdale Road, Chester, 908-879-5353, riamede.com