Saturday, September 2, 2017

5 Alternatives to Pumpkin and Apple Picking This Fall

I hate to admit it, but I am not a fan of apple picking in the Fall.  Well, that's not exactly true.  I am not a fan of apple and pumpkin picking during the weekend in the Fall.  Why, you ask?  Because everyone and their mother is in those apple orchards on a sunny day in the Fall!  And I know some people don't mind the crowds, but I can't take it.  I'd rather hit the local orchard after school with the Jersey Momma's Boy if I can (that does exclude Mr. Jersey Momma, but he's okay with that).  Or I'd rather find an alternative.  So here are some ideas for fun things to do besides apple and pumpkin picking this Fall.

1.  Visit a Reservoir:  Almost all of them are free off-season.  Most of them are dog-friendly.  You can picnic, hike, go on a leaf walk (follow-up with some easy leaf pressing!), bike ride and even play in the sand at some of them.  My favorites?

Spruce Run Reservoir in Clinton.  There are trails, beaches, paths, playgrounds, and water.  What more can you ask for?  And it's free.

a warm Fall day at Spruce Run

A cool Fall day at Spruce Run

Merrill Creek in Washington, NJ.  There are paths to hike/walk on here, water to skip stones in, and a fun little nature building with interactive exhibits.  Free, free, free!

Inside the nature center at Merrill Creek

Playing by the water, Merrill Creek 
Skipping stones at Merrill Creek (late summer)

Round Valley Reservoir in Lebanon.  Bring the beach toys and a sand chair!  Ride your bike, play on the playgrounds- it's a great place to spend the afternoon and the trees are amazing in the Fall, so bring your camera!  Also, FREE!

Round Valley in Spring - during the Fall, the trees look amazing!!

2.  Go Down the Shore!  Many people forget that the shore is still a fun place once the summer has ended!  Especially on a warm, sunny day.  Check out Island Beach State Park or stroll on the boardwalk at Point Pleasant.  If you're lucky, the sun will be warm and you can still have an amazing time on the beach.

An early Fall day at the beach means less crowds!

3.  Visit The Raptor Trust:  Outdoors and totally free (all they ask for is a donation), you can walk the gravel paths and look at their beautiful birds of prey.  Check out my past blog entry about the Raptor Trust to learn more about it.  If you have time remaining, you can even swing by the Great Swamp for a nature hike.

Bald eagles at The Raptor Trust

4.  Check out the Last Fling Pumpkin Sling:  It's always fun to watch giant, man-made machines chucking pumpkins across a big field!!  Read my past blog entry to find out more about it. Note that this year's event will be held at Picatinny Arsenal in Wharton.

Pumpkin slinging machines!

5. Visit a Creamery or Vineyard

We visited Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley this past Spring, and we vowed to return in the Fall for one of their harvest tours. Check out their website or visit my blog post about our experience there to see how much fun it can be (think sheep, cheese, farm animals and more).

Valley Shepherd Creamery Sheep Shoppe in Long Valley

There are so many vineyards in and around the state of New Jersey, and they're all pretty family friendly. Many of them have family events, food truck festivals, concerts and much more. Some of our favorites include Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown, Old York Cellars in Ringoes, and Laurita Winery in New Egypt.

Alba Vineyard, Milford

BONUS IDEA:  Play Miniature Golf: 
Laugh if you must, but this is one of the most fun Fall activities you can plan on a weekend.  Stress-free, inexpensive and fun, there are so many to choose from around the Garden State!  My favorites?

Tee-rific Golf Center in Branchburg...

Tee-rific Golf Center, Branchburg (in summer)

Al Bohem's Golf Center in Lebanon (small, but sweet, and has great italian ice!)...

Al Bohem's (in the summer)

Jimmy's Ice Cream & Holey Moley Golf Course in Milford....

Holey Moley Golf (Jimmy's)

Other Ideas

Although they can get crowded, too, there are other fun, outdoor places to visit throughout the state (and close by) in the Fall.  The always adorable Turtle Back Zoo even has Halloween activities in October.  The Lehigh Valley Zoo (in PA) is also cute and affordable.  If you're willing to spend some extra money, try out Boo Blast at Planet Snoopy (part of Dorney Park in Pennsylvania) or The Count's Spooktacular at Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA.

Do you have other ideas for fun things to do in the Fall?  Share them in the comments below!


  1. Great ideas! I always used to love miniature golf, but completely forgot about it.

    1. Thanks, Kristen! We are avid mini-golfers over here!