Family-Friendly Harvest Activities & Halloween Events
Once you start feeling that brisk coolness in the air and the leaves begin to change to glorious shades of gold and red, you know autumn has arrived. Make the most of the season with our list of family-friendly things to do this fall.
1. Harvest apples at U-pick farms.
There’s a reason New Jersey is known as the Garden State: we’ve got acres and acres of verdant farmlands and fruit-laden orchards. Take a trip to Alstede Farms in Chester, where tasty varieties such as Crimson Crisp, Cameo, Suncrisp and Astec Fuji typically ripen in October—but be sure to check out their updated PYO (that’s Pick-Your-Own for the uninitiated) policies first. At Mackey’s Orchard in Belvidere, you’ll need to hop aboard a hayride to get to their 45-acre mountaintop orchard. (Bonus: The Delaware Water Gap view is free!) In addition to PYO fun, these farms offer even more apple-y goodness—treat your family to a jug of freshly pressed apple cider or just-baked cider doughnuts.
2. Visit a pumpkin patch.
It wouldn’t be harvest season without some roasted pumpkin seeds and jack-o-lanterns, so bring the kids to Red Wagon Farm Market in Manalapan to choose from over 100 varieties of pumpkins—including ENORMOUS prize-winners—to pluck right from the vine. In East Brunswick, Giamarese Farm & Orchards hosts Fall Harvest Weekends when you can head to the pumpkin patch to PYO and take your pick of other decorative seasonal selections.
3. Go on a hayride.
Whether pulled by a horse or a tractor, a good ol’ fashioned hayride is the perfect way to celebrate fall while enjoying the crisp, clean air of the great outdoors. Take the little ones for a spin at Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford, where the wagon ride is just one of the fun experiences in store as part of their Fall Harvest. VonThun Farms in Monmouth Junction hosts Fall Festival Weekends, where general admission buys you access to unlimited hayrides, plus over 20 more sensational seasonal activities.
4. Explore a corn maze.
Let the kids loose—or maybe even play a little hide-and-seek—in the colossal corn mazes at Atlantic Farm Market in Manasquan, Heaven Hill Farm in Vernon and Happy Day Farm in Manalapan. These fresh fields also feature a frenzy of fall fun for your family—be sure to check their websites for details and tickets.
5. Explore a haunted farm.
For really big kids looking for a fright, take them to a nearby haunted attraction, where monsters and ghouls lurk around every corner. Visit BloodShed Farms Fear Fest in Columbus or the Farm of Horrors in Flemington for some scary-good horrors.
6. Dive into the ghost stories of shore towns.
Join Paranormal’s pro guides for the Ghosts and Legends of the Downtown Tour of Asbury Park. Down in Cape May, a trolley can usher you around as your psychic guide introduces you to this historic Victorian town’s haunted past.
7. Run from zombies.
Your life depends on your speed when you participate in a zombie run. Find a race in Merchantville with the Monsterville Zombie Run or in Long Valley with the 4th Annual Long Valley First Aid Squad Zombie 5k, both held October 30, 2021.
8. Get a thrill with roller coasters and monsters.
Always good for a scream, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson presents its always-popular Fright Fest, where fearsome characters roam freely around the park. Halloween shows and attractions are interspersed with thrilling rides and roller coasters.
9. Go trick-(and trunk-)or-treating.
Take the little ones to collect a sackful of candy in their scariest (or cutest!) costumes with this quintessential Halloween activity on October 31—and watch for the latest trend with “Trunk or Treat” events popping up in schools and towns around the Garden State, all leading up to the excitement of the big night.
Our best tip for planning your seasonal fun is to erase fear of the unknown. Check out the official websites or social media pages of the attractions or events you’re interested in for up-to-the-moment dates and times as well as information on advance reservations or tickets, which may be required.