Summer's a great time to hang in the city, but one of our favorite outdoor activities for kids is a trip to the best cherry picking NY has to offer. You can bring some home to make cherry pie, cherry jam, dried cherries or just eat 'em from the carton on your ride back home. The best laid plans...
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to where to pick your own fruits and vegetables near NYC
Cherry picking NY farms
Prospect Hill Orchards
Cherry season has begun at Prospect Hill Orchards, and there are plenty of sweet and tart cherries to go around (not to mention peaches, apricots, plums and nectarines later this summer.) Hop into a wagon for a ride from the parking lot to the cherry grove, where you can explore nine acres of sustainably grown light or dark sweet cherries and tart cherries to pop in your mouth or save for desserts and jams. Prospect Hill also offers special kids' days (Sept 24, 25 10am–4pm, 2016), where face painting, craft projects, hayrides, corn mazes and scarecrow-building projects will be offered free of charge.
340 Milton Turnpike, Milton, NY 12547 (prospecthillorchards.com, 845-795-2383). Cherries available June–July, 9am–4pm daily.
Lawrence Farm Orchards
*NOTE* Due to some unpredictable weather earlier this year, Lawrence will not be offering PYO peaches or plums—call to inquire about the PYO fruit available before making the trip.
Located in the beautiful Hudson Valley since 1892, Lawrence Farm Orchard offers dozens of farm-fresh items to pick throughout the year, from cherries and raspberries to eggplants and greens. Fill a container with fruit and then head to the Little Play Village, visit the show chickens and goats, and cool off with some local dairy ice cream. Visit the farm on the weekend and you’ll be able to tour the whole place in a horse-drawn carriage. 306 Frozen Ridge Rd, Newburgh, NY (845-562-4268, lawrencefarmsorchards.com). 9am-4pm daily. Admission $3.
Fraleigh's Rose Hill Farm
*NOTE* Rose Hill farm is completely out of cherries for the 2016 season. Supply was limited due to spring weather.
Find cherries and blueberries ripe for th picking at Rose Hill Farm! Even with the rough weather earlier this year, Rose Hill still has some blueberry offerings in July and August, if you're just in the mood for awesome berry picking. Check out the farm’s website for recipe ideas. 19 Rose Hill Farm, Red Hook, NY (845-758-4215, pickrosehillfarm.com). Tue–Sun 8am–1pm.
Wickham's Fruit Farm
Parts of this farm date back as far as 1661, so Wickham’s sure knows its fruit—all 200 acres of it! You can pick your own sweet and tart cherries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries through the summer, and visit the farmstand for local produce, pies, preserves and more. 28700 Route 25, Cutchogue, NY (631-734-6441, wickhamsfruitfarm.com). Mon–Sat 9am–4pm.
For a PYO experience with a view, Och’s Orchard is the place for you and your family. Bring a picnic to munch on during your cherry-picking adventure, while savoring the expansive views from the Orchard’s gazebo. You probably won’t be able to resist popping a few of your red-ripe finds into your mouth while you’re at it. Cherries will be around from late June through mid-July, along with homemade ice cream and some furry friends at the petting zoo! 4 Och’s Lane, Warwick, NY (845-986-1591, ochsorchard.net). Call for days/hours.
Cherry picking CT farms
Belltown Hill Orchards
You can find fourth-generation, family-run Belltown Hill Orchards nestled in the hills of South Glastonbury. The cherries now in season come after late spring’s strawberries and before autumn’s apples (and apple cider donuts, of course.) When you’ve gathered enough cherries to satisfy your pie, preserves and fruit cravings, stop by the farmers market for some homemade treats that "will bring you back to grandma’s pantry." 483 Matson Hill Rd, South Glastonbury, CT (860-633-2789, belltownhillorchards.com). Fri-Sun 10am-4pm.
Ellsworth Hill Orchard and Berry Farm
Ellsworth is an area well worth a day trip! After gathering sweet cherries galore and taking in the rolling hills, open pastures and original structures around the farm, check out some of the historic sites around town. The farm’s website offers some useful facts and picking do’s and don’ts for the novice cherry picker. 461 Cornwall Bridge Rd, Rte. 4, Sharon, CT (860-364-0025, ellsworthfarm.com). Sun–Fri 8am–6pm, Sat 8am–5pm.
Cherry picking NJ farms
This family-owned and operated Country Store and farm has sour cherries and a variety of other New Jersey fruit like strawberries, peaches, apples and pumpkins. THe approximate end date for this year’s cherry season is July 10 but if you don’t have time to pick your own, head to the Country Market and Bakery for fresh cherry pie or preserves. Check Battleview’s website for their cherry crisp recipe. 91 Wemrock Rd, Freehold, NJ (732-462-0756, battlevieworchards.com). Call for PYO days and hours.
Fruitwood Orchards Honey Farm
Fruitwood Orchards has offered 110 acres of fruit orchards since 1951. Though they’re known for their yummy honey, you can find apples, peaches, nectarines, pears, and cherries depending on when you go. There are also some less common PYO treasures, like watermelon, cantaloupe, and wine grapes. 419 Elk Rd, Monroeville, NJ (856-881-7748, fruitwoodorchardshoney.com). Call for dates/times.
From asparagus in April to pumpkins in October, Terhune Orchards has all the PYO options you could want—including eight varieties of sweet and sour cherries! The farm provides containers for you to gather your berries in, and when you’re done, be sure to wander down the farm trail to meet sheep, chickens, horses, geese and ducks and peruse all the treats at the farm stand. 330 Cold Soil Rd, Princeton, NJ (609-924-2310, terhuneorchards.com). Farm 9 am–6 pm daily, picking orchard, 9am–5pm daily.