Going to a pick-you-own farm is one of my favorite things to do with my kids. Aside from the great photo opps, the crisp fall air, and the fun family memories, apple picking is a great way to engage a child’s interest in food and even prevent pickiness!
To make the most of your day, here are a few tips from myself and other LH readers on how to have a fun, successful, and memorable experience.
🍎Go early in the season. It’s hard to think about apple picking when it’s 75 degrees, but apple picking season actually begins in August. Going at the start of the season means fewer crowds and a better apple selection.
🍎Avoid peak times of day. Most families go apple picking in the middle of the day, so shoot to arrive either right when the farm opens or two hours before it closes. Or even consider a weekday. “Both my husband and I work and for us, it's always worth it to take a day off during the week,” says Danielle Perrotto, a Hoboken mom of two. "For our family, it's much more pleasant because we're not dealing with crazy crowds. We're all much more relaxed and able to enjoy the day.”
🍎Bring cash. Many smaller orchards only take cash, and even larger ones require cash for extras like a petting zoo or corn maze.
🍎…and a potty. Especially if you’re deep in potty training mode, keeping a to-go potty in the back of your car is priceless when port-a-potty lines are long. And there are fewer things grosser as a parent than bringing your child into a port-a-potty. They’ll touch everything.
🍎Do your research. “Apple picking with a toddler will last 45 minutes, max," says Jersey City mom and LH contributor Anna Davis. "Doing some research about nearby playgrounds, hikes, and restaurants can make it much more of a fun day out for everyone.” Think about what’s most important for you besides apples: Are you looking for a petting zoo? A vineyard? (ahem, me). Then pick your place from there.
🍎Pack a lunch. Despite the fact that your kid will probably eat 15 apples, (or one bite from 15 different apples), he’s still going to be starving. Keep a cooler in your trunk to tailgate after picking or pack a picnic blanket and eat in the orchard.
🍎Have him pull his weight. Bring a small book bag for your toddler to wear to carry his apples. Less lugging for you!
🍎Take the road less traveled. “The further out from the city you go, the less crowds,” says mom of 1 Beth Renoni. “We tried to go to a close orchard last year and there were literally tour buses pulling up. We stopped for snacks and then proceeded to drive another hour north.” If a haul isn't doable, seek out smaller orchards. Toddlers under age two require very little entertainment, so smaller orchards with fewer bells and whistles often mean less craziness.
🍎Teach your child to share. Have your child bring an apple that he picked to a teacher, friend, or family member. It's a great way to teach them the joy of giving to others.
Make sure your phone is charged! Because if you don’t post photos of your day on Instagram, did it even happen?
If you are looking for where to do your apple picking, be sure to check out Little Hoboken's Pick-Your-Own List here!
Nicole Jurick is a mom of three and owner of the cooking school Peasful Kitchen. Nicole shares healthy recipes, mealtime inspiration, and sane strategies for feeding picky eaters.