Review: Apple and Pumpkin Picking at Alstede Farms in New Jersey

apple picking

I’ve been reading some great fall round-ups over at A Child Grows in Brooklyn and Mommy Poppins of places to go apple and pumpkin picking in and around New York. We felt inspired, so this weekend we headed to New Jersey to check out one of the spots — Alstede Farms.

I selected Alstede based on proximity to New York (didn’t want to commit to a 2-hour car trip both ways) and the variety of activities on offer. The trip didn’t disappoint! And I think I can say it was enjoyed equally by kids and adults. There are some things we’d do differently, though, if we went back — so take our tips and make the trip!

Let us know how it goes.

Alstede Farms

Where it is:

Alstede Farms is located in Chester, New Jersey, and it took us a little over an hour to get there from Brooklyn. Consult the map on their site, or use 1 Chesterfield Drive, Chester, New Jersey as a GPS destination.

pony ride


What there is to do:

It’s PYO (pick your own) heaven — pumpkins, apples, veggies, and berries abound. Our kids (4 and 6) were *really* into searching for and picking the just-right, ripe specimens.

Also on tap: hay rides, a corn maze (really, it was fun!), pony rides, the dreaded bouncy castle (am I the only parent who hates them? all I can see is one bounce the wrong way landing us in the ER), farm animals, wagon “train” rides, a giant hay pyramid for climbing and a hay bale tunnel for crawling through. Good times.

hay pyramid

Climb aboard....

Plan ahead for food:

Bringing your own almost always ends up being the best option, doesn’t it? While there is food here on weekends — the usual hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers, fries, and funnel cakes — we felt like the wait for it took up too much of our time. We wished we’d brought a simple picnic we could’ve eaten quickly instead so there would have been more time for FUN.

hay ride, Alstede Farms

Big ol' tractors pull the hay rides around the farm.

Other things to keep in mind:

Be forewarned: fun on the farm doesn’t come cheap. In addition to the money we spent on lunch and the PYO bounty (you pay for fruits and veggies by the pound), we spent $80 for family entry into the picking fields and for wrist bands for unlimited activities (bouncy castle, pony rides, corn maze, etc.) for the kids.

We were there three and a half hours and, with picking and leisurely hay rides, really only had time for the kids to do everything else once. In retrospect, the unlimited access wrist bands would only have been worthwhile if we’d stayed most of the day. (You can pay for the activities a la carte — there’s a whole menu of options.)

This place is no secret, so get there early. Like, ideally, when they open at 9am. You’ll spend less time waiting in line and more time doing.

There’s not much shade — think open fields — so, even though it’s fall and not summer, make sure to put a little sunscreen on faces if you go on a bright day.

Be prepared to wait in line to pay for your PYO goodies — if you go early enough, maybe you can avoid this. But I kind of doubt it. You may only be buying a pumpkin and a few apples like we were, but plenty of other people are buying apples by the bushel-full — and you’ll be waiting behind them. Factor in that time when thinking about when you should pack up and head for the car.

That said, Alstede Farms runs pretty smoothly — there are several tractors making the hay ride loop at once and there’s more than one pumpkin field. (Also, if you find you’re running short on picking time, you can always cheat by grabbing a pumpkin or extra apples from the market up front.)

Do think of it as a real, full-day trip — we had to cut ours short and we definitely could have stayed longer.

Happy picking!

pumpkin patch, Alstede Farms

Two pumpkins for the road, please.

Alstede Farms

Alstede Farms

Ah, wilderness!


7 Responses to “Review: Apple and Pumpkin Picking at Alstede Farms in New Jersey”

  1. 1 Kurt W. Alstede October 8, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Thank you for a very nice review of our family owned farm. Our goal is to make agriculture accessible to families and children in a fun, beautiful, and safe atmosphere. Our Best, Farmer Kurt and the Alstede Family.

  2. 2 Melisa October 8, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Oh, thank you so much for commenting, Kurt — I’m glad you found us! Our family had a wonderful time in a beautiful setting and we will definitely visit Alstede Farms again. Happy fall to you and your family!

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