From northern New Jersey to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, farms in the Middle Atlantic states are geared up to celebrate the harvest. Kids of all ages can share in the fun, which ranges from apple picking and hayrides to jack-o-lantern carving and getting lost in a baffling corn maze.
In New Jersey
Alstede Farms in Chester grows more than 250 varieties of organic fruits and vegetables on more than 600 acres and, in the fall, the farm is filled with traditional family activities: apple and pumpkin picking, hayrides and a corn maze. Go in the morning for an all-you-can-eat pumpkin pancake breakfast before getting lost in the maze. Other crops are available for PYO, including potatoes — great fun for city kids who may not have had a chance to dig for their own food!
Ramsey’s Farm in North Wilmington adds an especially spooky element to its corn maze — exploring it after dark with flashlights. Evening activities also include hayrides and a bonfire. The seven-acre maze is themed to feature farms, foods and agriculture around the world as kids “travel” through the maze from continent to continent. For younger kids there is a sorghum maze and for very young kids the easy-to-navigate hay bale maze keeps them in sight of parents during the entire adventure.
West of Baltimore in Frederick County, Brookfield Pumpkins is all about families, with a three-acre corn maze, hayrides and pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Little kids love the petting zoo with chickens, calves, goats and sheep, or they can play in one of the corn bins — like a sandbox but filled with kernels of dry corn. On Sunday afternoons the farm offers free mule rides.
Bring some outgrown clothes to Zekiah Farms, near Waldorf in Charles County, where you can build your own scarecrow. Choose the head from the three-acre PYO pumpkin patch and carve it into a jack-o-lantern face. Another three acres is covered by a corn maze with 1.5 miles of paths to get lost in. There are hayrides on weekends and farm animals to see; stock up on raw, unfiltered honey from the farm’s own honey bees.
Not far from Annapolis, Maryland Sunrise Farm claims one of the state’s biggest corn mazes at eight acres, plus a mini maze for younger children and a hay bale maze for toddlers. Hay rides are pulled by tractors and there’s a place for kids to jump in the hay or run a straw obstacle course. They can even make and taste their own butter at this certified organic farm.
Close to Washington, D.C., in Winchester, Richard’s Fruit Market is the state’s oldest open-air farm market, on a three-generation farm. There’s no giant corn maze, but there are lawn games and a petting zoo with a horse, a miniature horse, ducks, goats and turkeys. Assemble your own bouquet of fall flowers in the pick-your-own garden.
In Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, the Bridgemont Farm has the Maize Quest Corn Maze, hayrides, a slide and games; Saturday and Sunday evenings are “flashlight nights” when you can challenge the maze after dark, then gather around a bonfire. In Luray, home of the famous Luray Caverns and a few miles away from Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive is Valley Star Farm, with a huge pumpkin patch and a maze in the cornfield. They also do tractor-drawn hay rides.
Wearing sunscreen at the beach is a given, especially for little ones running in and out of the water — and anyone who forgets that usually regrets it with a vengeance the next day. One aspect of sunscreen I admittedly didn’t think about until just a few years ago is how detrimental its impact is on marine life and reefs. Oxybenzone is a chemical found in most mainstream sunscreens — it works to prevent sun damage, but is also carcinogenic and harmful to coral. The chemical makes coral more susceptible to bleaching and damages its DNA, interfering with reproduction and killing dependent marine life in the process.
This summer, family travel at The Peninsula receives an upgrade with the debut of Camp Peninsula, a children’s experience that recreates the spirit of camping right in the heart of Beverly Hills. The journey begins with a special welcome from Peter Bear, the hotel’s lovable mascot, at check-in. After taking a picture with the life-sized teddy bear, kids will be whisked away by a Peninsula Camp Counselor to a luxurious guestroom where a charming teepee awaits. An afternoon of camp-themed games and activities, including a hotel-wide scavenger hunt, rounds off the family-friendly experience, fun for children of all ages. Whether it’s a luxe staycation or an extended holiday, Camp Peninsula is an ideal way to ensure the little ones are happy campers.
An interesting and accidental beneficial side effect of recent travel bans is that large swaths of the world affected by over-tourism are beginning to heal themselves. Major cities from Los Angeles to London and Beijing are reporting their best air quality in years with less nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide emitted by cars and industry. The canals in Venice are so clear, schools of fish and even a dolphin were easily spotted by locals — all of this and more taking place before Earth Day’s 50th anniversary in April.
When you want to get away without getting behind the wheel, Amtrak has news for you — and budget-friendly news, at that. Enjoy the ride this summer to your next destinations from the comfort of a private Roomette room on Amtrak with a two-for-one deal on select one-way routes.
While urban wine country might sound like an oxymoron, it’s actually a reality at the stunning City Vineyard in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. The water-side venue is the perfect host for your next event — whatever that may be, from 20 to 200 guests and from cocktail party to plated dinner.
PLANNING A VACATION TO FRENCH POLYNESIA, the Cook Islands or Fiji? Lucky you! While you really can’t go wrong with any of these exotic locales that beckon with white-sand beaches, mornings spent listening to soothing water lapping your bungalow, and immersion excursions with some of the world’s most amazing flora and fauna, not all islands are created equally.