Say what you want about New Jersey, but the relatively tiny state that seems to bear the brunt of so many jokes has a lot to offer. In case you didn’t know, I spent most of my adolescence and early adulthood growing up in the Garden State, and the years I spent there were happy ones.
In what seems to be a surprising new tradition over the past two years, my mom and I have spent the second weekend in October traveling back to a special place that held so much meaning for us to do all of our favorite Jersey things.
Almost. It seemed like everyone else had the same idea too.
We’ve been going to Battleview Orchards for as long as I can remember. It’s the spot where I last went apple picking, but honestly, I really go for the hot apple cider doughnuts, fresh from the fryer and covered in cinnamon sugar. With a plethora of pumpkins and gourds and mums for the purchasing, it is perhaps the most fall-festooned place you’ll ever see.
New Jersey Botanical Gardens
Welp, they don’t call it the Garden State for nothing. Located in the northern part of the state, near the border of New York, the New Jersey Botanical Gardens at Ringwood State Park are really lovely in the spring when everything is in bloom. Autumn, however, brings the fall festival with lots of food, family-friendly activities and vendors selling their fall-themed wares. This year’s festival attendance got a boost from good weather and our pursuit of a parking spot landed us near beautiful Shepherd Lake, a vista I’d never have discovered if it hadn’t been for the crowds. See–the silver lining is there if you look for it.
My mom’s favorite place in the world is in and around Chester, New Jersey, but unfortunately, we had to skip visiting Cliff’s Dairy Maid for a cone of her favorite ice cream. We did, however, attempt to pass by Alstede Farms, one of our favorite summer harvesting activities. In fall, however, Alstede’s gets really popular, with people and cars flooding the fields around the property. For the second time in as many years, we decided to take a hard pass on the crowds, vowing to return during a slower time of year.
And while I wasn’t able to check any of the items from my fall bucket list, it was still a wonderful few days in a place that retains a special place in my heart.