How do I know that it's fall in New Jersey? The wind is cooler, the trees are breathing red and orange, and the air smells of maple and pumpkins. Where I live, all of this signals that it's time to head on over to a local farm in search of apples that smell like future pies and banana bread that tastes like home. Lucky for you, I know the only three spots in Northern NJ, which all happen to be local to me, where you can find the absolute best of whatever fall farm items you're dreaming of. In fact, I can even tell you what each of these farms is best known for, so you know exactly what to look for.

Hacklebarney Farms Cider Mill

If you can't tell by the name, this farm (also locally called "the cider mill") has a special place in its heart for apple cider. Located at 104 State Park Rd in Chester Township, NJ, this farm sits just outside the center of town. The first thing that your eyes fall on when you arrive is the huge red barn that houses the farm store, where you can find baked goods, honey, and most importantly, cider donuts. For about $1.25 you can get your hands on the warmest, yummiest, most fall-esque apple cider donut in all of New Jersey...sounds like a good deal to me. You can choose between a powdered sugar cider donut and a cinnamon sugar powdered donut. While you're there, you can also try their cider hotdogs, which have been a huge hit since the 90's. 

These cider donuts are like a pillow of cinnamon-y apple-y heaven with an extra dash of sweetness caringly sprinkled across the top. It tastes like the autumns of my childhood that I can't quite place my finger on without having a bite of these donuts. This farm has managed to pack in a flavor that somehow magically feels like a warm hug from the whole community. Trust me, try these donuts and you'll know what I mean.

The cider mill cares so much about their customers that they have even gone to the extent of providing driving directions on their website

Rebecca Bartiromo

Mackey's Orchard

Ice cream may be a summertime treat, but when it's a homemade signature item and the perfect dessert after an hour of carefully roaming through the apple orchards, it quickly becomes an autumn treat too. Mackey's Orchard is well known for not only their 100+ variations of apples readily available to pick, but also for their incredible homemade ice cream. Mackey's offers 42 hard ice cream flavors (including two vegan and five sugar-free), nine soft ice cream flavors (including fat-free and low-fat yogurt), and various combos of ice cream sundaes. This farm is located at 284 County Road 519, Belvidere, NJ 07823, and currently spans about 96 acres. The ice cream stand is open from 12pm-9pm on Saturdays and Sundays, so don't forget to mark your calendar, and do it soon!

Eating Mackey's ice cream was an absolute privilege. The vanilla soft serve was ridiculously creamy, and the homemade cookie at the bottom of the sundae just melts in your mouth. Whipped cream and cherries are adorably placed atop for extra deliciousness. I HIGHLY recommend creating a sundae, or trying one of the specialty ice cream "platters", such as the one I ordered, pictured below.

Rebecca Bartiromo

Melick's Town Farm

Last but definitely not least, we have Melick's Town Farm and their commercially sold hard cider. Looking for a fall drink with a bit of a kick? Melick's has you covered, with their notorious six flavors of hard cider, such as Oldwick Jersey Ginger and George's Tart Cherry. The Fifty Best even awarded Melicks' Semi-Dry and King Street Hops flavors with Double Gold medals during the blindfolded taste test in 2019! Their hard ciders (as well as other wines and spirits) are commercially sold at dozens of retail and restaurant locations throughout New Jersey, which I think is pretty cool. Their widespread success with their hard cider shows you just how much you need to try it for yourself. 

If you prefer a sweeter drink, then you should definitely try the Lemon Shandy or the Oldwick 1728 Original flavors. If you prefer a more traditional taste, then Jersey Ginger King Street Hops flavors are for you. Regardless of flavor choice, you are practically guaranteed to enjoy Melick's hard cider! Yet again, it's another refreshing "treat" to enjoy after spending time picking flowers, pumpkins, or apples around the farm. Melick's is mainly located at 170 Oldwick Rd. Oldwick, NJ 08858, directions and other locations can be found here.

Rebecca Bartiromo