The Jersey Shore is starting to close down for the season. The beaches and the boardwalks are empty. The sweet shops have stopped churning out fudge and taffy. And the few visitors still around are more likely to be wearing sweatshirts than bathing suits. So people from Philly and New York will have to look elsewhere for a long-weekend destination. At least until next year.
But as the beach season ends in the “Garden State,” harvest time begins. Rural northern New Jersey is full of farms and fields, vineyards and orchards, rivers and mountains. It’s the exact opposite of the city from which you’re trying to escape. So pack your suitcase. You’ll need a sweater for chilly evenings and a reusable bag to carry your farm stand finds home.
Make the Grand Cascades Lodge in Hamburg your home base. The Adirondack-style lodge, with stonework and wooden beams, fits right into its natural surroundings. Rooms have gas fireplaces and views of the mountains. A few early leaves are just starting to turn crimson and gold. Grab bikes and follow the Sussex Path from the hotel. Or pack a picnic lunch and hike Pochuck Mountain, a quiet part of the Appalachian Trail. Return to the hotel for a gourmet dinner featuring Hudson Valley and Delaware Valley produce at Restaurant Latour. The garden tasting menu offers heirloom tomato bisque, haricot vert salad, wild mushroom duxelles, and white russet potato gnocchi. And the Wine Cellar has more than 9,100 selections.
Start early the next morning to buy the best freshly picked fruit and veggies. Since you skipped breakfast, opt for warm apple cider donuts at Pennings Orchard & Farm Market. Pick Honeycrisp and McIntosh apples. Buy farm fresh eggs, local honey, and herbed butter. Get lost in the corn maze at Lentini Farms. Go for a hayride and pick pumpkins at Heaven Hill Farm. Sample Italian grapes and Rhone-style wines at Westfall Winery. Listen to live music while trying cider and gin at the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery. And sit by a fire pit, munch on a cheese platter, and sip a glass of Rosso Misto at Cava Winery.
Full of fresh produce and fresh air, you feel energized to return home. Though it doesn’t look like all your goodies will fit in the one reusable bag.