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26 Fall Activities In NJ To Fill Your Bucket List This Season
Throw on your flannels and get your baskets ready—the picking season is heating up with everything fall. Walking through a field of late-summer sunflowers with your phone in hand to snap those Insta-worthy sunflower shots is what the fall is all about. From Sunset Flower Farm in Belleplain to Three Silos Farm in Newton, there’s nothing finer than a day in the flower fields.
Watch pro golfers compete in the crisp, fall weather
If you love the game or are mildly interested, The Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is coming to North Jersey this fall! Bring the family to support the players, including several moms competing in the tour. Backed by a mission of empowering women in sports and business, the 2021 LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup will visit the historic Mountain Ridge Country Club in West Caldwell, NJ, from October 4th – 10th. The event offers an opportunity to enjoy a week of family entertainment, as the greatest professional golfers in the world compete in one of the most celebrated tournaments on the LPGA calendar. The Founders Cup pays homage to the LPGA’s rich history and the 13 women – known as the Founders – who created the Tour over 70 years ago. Among the event’s beneficiaries is the USGA Girls Golf, a non-profit 501-c3 junior golf program that positively impacts over 90,000 girls who are learning and loving the game.
Have your pick of apples
It’s that time of year when you can gather all your favorite McIntosh, Gala, Golden Delicious, and more varieties and snap selfies during apple picking with the fam. From Demarest Farms in Hillsdale to Stiles Farm and Nursery in Cape May, there are apple picking farms all over the Garden State. Bring home your haul and use them to make apple pies, apple ciders, applesauce, and so much more.
Fall among the grapes at a local vineyard
Sitting among the vines drinking some pinot, what could be better? Exploring the vineyards and tasting wines is one of our favorite fall activities in NJ. And New Jersey has the perfect grape-growing conditions to make outstanding wines that are right up there in the ranks of Tuscany and Napa Valley. In fact, South Jersey’s Outer Coastal Plain has the same climate and soil as the Bordeaux region in France – which makes for world-class wines close to home. From the bucolic scenery at Four Sister’s Winery in Belvidere to the luxe experience at the Renault Winery in Little Egg Harbor to the laid-back vibe at the Cape May Winery and Vineyard in Cape May, you can raise a glass to stellar local wine options all over the Garden State.
Picking with your little pumpkin
Taking a hayride to find the perfect orange pumpkin on a vine is not be missed (nor are the insta moments). And many places offer more than just a PYO experience with mazes, harvest festivals, hay bale slides, and hayrides, making it a family-friendly activity to put at the top of your fall bucket list. Plus, you’ll have plenty of pumpkins on hand to carve and decorate (not to mention those toasted pumpkin seeds—yum).
Spend the day at a family-friendly farm
Fall into a festival or fair
Just because summer is over doesn’t mean the fun at an outdoor festival or fair has to end—the season is firing up with over 50 festivals and fairs. From the 6th Annual Taco Festival in Augusta to the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival (yes, it’s back!), to the Home Harvest Festival at Longstreet Farm in Holmdel or the 31st Cranberry Festival in Bordentown, there’s a way for your family to celebrate all autumn long.
Pitch a tent for s’more fall fun
A cool October night, a warm campfire, and some ooey-gooey marshmallows with chocolate and graham crackers—sleeping out in a tent in the fall can feel better than during a hot, humid summer (plus, no mosquitos). And with a bunch of campsites where you can do more than just hang in the woods, it’s a family getaway that’s affordable and fun. Check out the Great Divide in Newton with RV and tent campsites combined with cabins full of modern amenities or the Ocean View Resort Campground in Ocean View with over 1,000 campsites, a splash park, and even a steel drum concert event.
Play with the alpacas
Nothing says cozy like some fuzzy alpacas on the farm, and it’s one of the top fall activities in NJ. And did you know that their fur is used to make lots of products yearly (all 100% safe and animal-friendly)? These adorable creatures live between 18 and 24 years of age and come in 22 different natural colors. Your littles will love getting to know these gentle souls, and you’ll love snapping photos of them at alpaca farms like Edel Haus Farm in Wall, Jersey Shore Alpacas in Cape May, and Bluebird Farm Alpacas in Peapack.
Celebrate Halloween all month
Test your skills in a life-sized maze
Put those problem-solving skills to work as you, and your kiddos get lost in a maze. Yup, fall is officially the season of the farm maze, where the whole family can get moving and have a ton of fun. Check out the massive corn mazes often mowed into themes that boggle the mind or have easier, kid-friendly versions your kids can do on their own. Likewise, a sunflower maze is pretty and skillful, like the Sussex County Sunflower Maze in Sandystown, where you can get lost in a labyrinth of over 1 million flowers (just make sure you catch it before the sunflowers are done).
Take a hike in the autumn air
Discover a new hidden gem in NJ
Find fall fun and thrill rides
Just because summer is done, it doesn’t mean that the thrills and spills on a rollercoaster have to stop. There are plenty of amusement parks in New Jersey that offer everything from haunted scares to fall fun these next few months. At Six Flags Great Adventure, Fright Fest during the day is spooky fun, and by night has creepy thrills and hair-raising scares. For a tamer time, head to Diggerland USA for Diggerfest, where there is a lot of digging action with everything from pumpkin decorating to hayrides.
Watch the leaves change at a botanical garden
Visiting an NJ botanical garden this time of year is the perfect autumn treat—you can watch fall unfold with each visit to the grounds and walk along the trails. Some top spots include the New Jersey Botanical Gardens and Skylands Manor in Ringwood, the NJ Audubon Nature Center of Cape May, and Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown.
Bring your imagination to life at an NJ museum
Activate your child’s imagination this fall with a trip to a museum in New Jersey. Witness art coming to life indoors and outdoors in the fall weather at the unique Grounds For Sculpture. Or visit the new dino dig at the Liberty Science Center, where kids can dig for fossils themselves. Or head to the historic Battleship New Jersey to learn about military history and what it was like to live on a real ship.
Raise a stein at Oktoberfest
Food, biergartens, live music, and prost—it’s time for Oktoberfest in NJ. Kids will want to sink their teeth into soft Bavarian pretzels and listen to the lively oompah bands while you try some frothy brews and bratwurst. Get into the German spirit at local family-friendly Oktoberfest events like Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest in Wildwood or a Bavarian-style feast at Oktoberfest at Mountain Creek in Vernon. Or if you are looking for something with a little more of a hop, we found plenty of breweries to raise a glass. Oktoberfest is just one of those fall activities in NJ that you won’t want to miss.
Fall in love with NJ attractions
New Jersey is full of unique attractions, from Lucy the Elephant to Storybook Land, and visiting during the cooler months means the crowds are less (especially if you go during the week). There are also places in NJ where you don’t have to buy a ticket or pay an entry fee —from the Cape May County Park & Zoo to tours of the governor’s mansion at Drumthwacket—there are a bunch of free attractions worth checking out this fall.
Take a fall weekend road trip
With school and busy weeks ahead, a weekend road trip can be that break you need this fall. Luckily, there are plenty of family-friendly resorts in and around NJ for all ages and budgets. Whether you want to experience the shore at the Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long Branch or stay overnight nestled in the mountains at the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY, a little getaway is always a great way to recharge.
Hit the pavement with a 5K this fall
Gather your crew in this crisp weather to get out and support a good cause with a charitable walk or 5K in-person or virtually, at your own pace. Check out the 15th annual Walk N’Roll event on September 19 to support Children’s Specialized Hospital, an RWJBarnabas Health Facility. Or try the 2021 Steeplechase Distance Run on September 26 in Hillsborough, or don’t miss their Running with the Devils 5K and Wellness Walk on October 24 around the South Mountain Recreation Complex and Turtle Back Zoo, where one hundred percent of the proceeds will go to supporting RWJBarnabas health care heroes.
Get frightened at a zombie night or haunted hayride
Scoop up some fresh produce at a fall Farmers’ Market
Want to take advantage of fall’s bounty without visiting a farm? Stop by one of the farmers’ markets scattered all over the Garden State, where you can shop locally for fresh fruits, vegetables, and so much more. Pick up yummy treats of the season, too, like fresh apple pies, pumpkin bread, cider, and even non-edible ones, like soft alpaca throws and scarves. Our state is full of fresh finds from the Hudson Farmers Market in Jersey City to the Collingswood Farmers Market in Collingswood.
Take a peek at fall foliage
Take an Insta-worthy fall family photo
It’s never too early to start planning for the holidays, and a fall family photoshoot will take advantage of a gorgeous setting as you document your family’s growth. And with locations as diverse as the city the shore, you can find a spot outside that’s far from ordinary. The cliffside Fort Lee Historical Park has stunning views from the Hudson to the George Washington Bridge or snap a shot at Paterson Great Falls, which looks as breathtaking as Niagra. Want a beach shot that’s more nautical? Barnegat Light State Park is the perfect spot for a sunset shot with a lighthouse and a natural setting in the background.
Take a fresh fall look at the zoo
With fall leaves as the backdrop and fun animals in the forefront, visiting zoos in NJ this season can be a beautiful way to spend the day. And the best part is that many zoos celebrate the autumn season—Cape May County Park & Zoo is hosting Boo at the Zoo with kids’ entertainment, costumes encouraged. Whatever animals your kids are into these days, there’s no shortage of exotic species, wildlife education, and friendly farm petting zoos in the state.
Spend fall days under the sea
The temps may be dropping outside, but inside there is plenty of sea life to see. Aquariums are a great place to check out on those extra chilly days. Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant Beach, the NJ SEA LIFE Aquarium in East Rutherford, and the Camden Adventure Aquarium in Camden are just a few of the many aquariums in New Jersey that are perfect for your little sea explorer.