Family destination around New York – 1 Hour Drives

Alstede FarmsIt is the end of Devam’s first year at school. Time for summer break, a 3 month period to explore, experience and enjoy something different besides school. We plan to visit several destinations in and around New York. Besides researching new destinations there are some that we look forward to visiting again and again.

I am listing our few favorite destinations:

1) Bear Mountain State Park

2) Norwalk, CT
Stepping Stones Museum
Maritime Aquarium

3) New Jersey, NJ
Liberty Science Center
Alstede Farms

These destinations are about one hour drive from New York. They are great destinations for age groups of 2-7 years old and perfect destinations for an entire family.

Note: When visiting farms it is most advisable to call them in advance to confirm their pick-your-own schedule and the best hours to visit the farm. I usually like to get to farms early in the morning and leave by noon.

Happy Travels,

Experience the delicate balance!

After I wrote my blog: Ingredients, a few friends were insistent that we actually put the thought of visiting a farm into action. I started researching farms around New York that we could visit with tots around 2 years in age. None of the little ones had been to a farm before and it seemed like they were finally ready for the experience. Remember the famous quote: “…. everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. ….we are all connected in the great circle of life.” Yes it is from The Lion King and this is my favorite part of the story. We can hope that our kids will understand this fact as it forms the basis of their future challenge, to create a sustainable world around them.

I found two farms that seemed most enticing in terms of family activities, it’s distance from New York and based on overall online reviews.

1. Alstede Farms in New Jersey: 45 minutes from downtown New York
2. Harbes Family Farm in Long Island: 2 hours from downtown New York

Both farms provide several family fun activities like pony rides, opportunity to feed livestock, pick-your-own, farm market, educational field trips, hayrides, etc. Harbes Family Farm also has a wine-barn to keep the adults entertained 🙂

Given similar activity options we picked the closer option in New Jersey and we were not disappointed at all, as evidenced in the pictures. Alstede Farm is very well laid out for families to enjoy each activity. Once you park your car all the different activities are right around you, you don’t have to walk much further from your car.

I was hoping that tots would pick their own produce and understand the source of fruits and vegetables they eat. Instead all of them gravitated first towards feeding the livestock, the tots and dads climbed the haystacks, enjoyed the pony-rides and then took a break for some delicious farm-made ice cream. The adults enjoyed freshly made cucumber and tomato salsa, a great low-calorie treat on a hot day. Of-course some of us enjoyed the burgers and fries. After a good meal, the tots plopped down for a kiddy wagon ride (wagons pulled by a tractor). After almost 3 hours  on the farm I could tell that the dominos were going to come crashing down, but then they spotted the corn-pit a great twist on the sand-pit. The tots played in it for an hour and we had to then pull them out. They had a blast, but did not make it to pick-your-own. The key to pick-your-own is to get to the farm at 9:00AM (or earlier) and enjoy it for an hour before the sun comes down on you.

Overall a fantastic visit and I was later wondering if I should try visiting other farms. Maybe not. It is important to track down one farm in your state that works for you and your tots, if you can visit this farm at-least 3-4 times during spring-summer and fall – it will be great source of joy and fun for you and your family.

Both these farms will be holding a corn maze adventures as well as pumpkin patch in the fall (September – October), don’t miss out.

Wouldn’t it be great if we can bring up our little ones on a farm – at least during the first few years of their life? Just so that they can understand the delicate balance in our ecosystem.

Ingredients – your kids must know!

Devam had just fallen asleep and as usual I was browsing through NetFlix for a good movie to watch. I came up on “Ingredients” – a documentary film about farmers and chefs that are creating a truly sustainable food system. The documentary caught my attention right away – it mentioned that for the first time in history, our children’s generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan than ours. The quality, taste and nutritional value of the food we eat has dropped sharply; we have lost sight of where our food comes from. Growing up in India there was a time when food tasted amazing (does not taste the same anymore), not because my mom was an exceptional cook, but because the vegetables tasted fantastic. I still remember the mozzarella tomato salad, the minestrone soup and the pasta I had in Florence, a simple meal had never tasted as good before. And the secret once again was in the produce, it was fresh, it tasted sweet and needed little seasoning. Unlike most super markets, local farmers markets are a great source of fresh foods.

Documentary trailer:

When I meet with fellow moms, one common complaint is around tots not eating fresh vegetables and fruits. I have observed my nephew and nieces grow-up around me and now I am observing my own son. Tots imitate their parents in every sense including their eating habits. If we can include more fresh vegetables and fruits in our diet – it is likely to improve our health and we can be good role models for our tots. We can also promote awareness around fresh ingredients, we can take our tots to farmers market in the city, visit farms over the weekends to educate them on the source of fresh, good tasting and quality ingredients that make a healthy meal.

It is June and if you live in the Northeast it is the right time to farm-educate your tots (if you live elsewhere check the harvest schedule for your location). Berry picking season has just begun and there are several farms around New York – in every direction. Long Island, New Jersey and Westchester have sprawling acres of lush farms where you and your tots can have fun picking your own produce, petting live stock and enjoy the hay rides.

Find a farm around you on

Pick a sunny day and have lots of fresh, engaging and delicious visit at your local farm.

Note: It is advisable to call before hand to ensure that the farm is accepting visitors and to confirm timings of tot related activities at the farm. You can check reviews of farms online before your visit.