Last week was an incredible fall weekend! I had been trying to get out to an apple orchard before the end of the pick-your-own season but I also really wanted to find a place with fun fall activities for our 3 year old. Since the month is winding down, and we are limited to our weekends only now (the life of having a school-aged child), I wanted to find an all-in-one autumn outing.
It’s a struggle though to find a place with apple picking AND a corn maze AND tractor rides AND farm activities AND pumpkins. That sounds like a tall order, I know; but we found it at Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford, Connecticut!
Guilford is a bit of a hike for This Connecticut Mom. The drive was well over an hour and for some reason my GPS (who I swear hates me) decided the best route was through the back roads of Durham and North Guilford. My husband had me checking the GPS many times to make sure I didn’t have a highway avoidance set in place (I didn’t!). I mean, it was a pretty drive so that made it fun; but admittedly I had no idea where we were half the time!
Before we headed out to Bishop’s Orchards that day, I had scoured their website and Facebook page to make sure I knew exactly what to expect. And I’m glad I did. Bishop’s Orchards is HUGE. And while they offered everything I was looking for, it was not all at the same location. On their website, I found a map of the different sites for their activities. Everything is close and easy to drive to, so it’s definitely not a problem doing it all in one day; but it’s important to plan your trip accordingly so you know where to go!
We knew we had to go apple picking. The corn maze was not something we had to do (since those can be tough with a three year old). We also planned to check out the kids’ activities at The Little Red Barn and Pumpkin Patch. I wasn’t thinking and I mentioned the words “apple train” to my child at some point during the drive to Guilford, so you can only guess what we did first.
I’ll get into that in more detail shortly…
Since we planned to visit the Little Red Barn first, we headed to the Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market on Boston Post Road. The Market by itself is a must-visit! You’ll find many of the farm’s own great products including cider, pies, popcorn and, of course, fresh produce.
The Little Red Barn, the Pumpkin Patch and Kids’ Activity area are in the same lot as Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market. The parking lot they share is huge, but on a very busy Saturday like the one we visited on, it was PACKED. They had a ton of parking, including an overflow lot behind the Farm Market on the grass. They had signs all over to help you find a spot.
The Little Red Barn was hard to miss since it’s basically a little, red barn. We actually didn’t go inside the barn – it houses the check out registers for buying pumpkins and mums; and since we skipped pumpkins (and the line was really long), I never had the chance to pop inside to check it out!
In front of the Little Red Barn you can find their food tents. During their fall events, they have a food truck and concessions on the weekends only. We bought a lot of cider and donuts.
I’m a sucker for a cider donut.
They were making their kettle corn fresh outside the food tent. It was a popular item!
We had already eaten lunch but their food truck menu sounded amazing! You can find their full menu online. I realized after the fact that the photos of the menus that I took were for their farm fresh food and their ice cream! Yes, they had ice cream!
Before you eat, they actually have a hand-washing station right near the food tents. There are also port-a-potties nearby. There are regular bathrooms located at the farm store; but those were single stall bathrooms and the line was long so be prepared to wait for the restroom or settle for a port-a-potty. I did not go into the bathroom so I cannot confirm if there was a changing table inside. I saw a lot of moms with babies so I would assume there was but I recommend having a backup plan for diaper changes!
Because it was the weekend, they also had special activities set up right near the Little Red Barn. These included face painting, pumpkin painting and glitter tattoos. These activities had a small extra fee. We are not quite at the face painting stage in life yet (he’s done it once and was pretty indifferent to the whole experience); so while I can, I save the money and skip that activity!
Located right behind the Little Red Barn is the Pumpkin Patch at Bishop’s Orchards. Admission to this area is still free.
Before you head in, make sure to grab a cart!
There were TONS of pumpkins for sale!
I found my very own pumpkin happy in this field of orange!
There were lots of great opportunities to take photographs. I saw many parents with their DSLR cameras snapping away at every chance they could! There is something about pumpkins and fall that just makes for the best backdrop in any picture!
As I mentioned, the Little Red Barn serves as a checkout for the Pumpkin Patch. They also had tons of mums for sale under the tent behind the barn.
Of course, our main purpose for being here at the Little Red Barn at Bishop’s Orchards was for their Fall into Fun Kid’s Activities. This was apparently the purpose of a lot of people on the day we visited! It was packed!!
Fall into Fun Kid’s Activities at Bishop’s Orchards is open daily and closes for the 2017 season on October 31. On weekends, the hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (with no admission after 5:45 p.m.). During the weekdays, the area is only open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. A wristband is required to enter the area and includes access to their hay maze, a hay tower, corn pit, push tractors and other small games. On the weekend, they also run an apple train. The wristband is $9 per child on weekends. On weekdays it is only $4. Parents are free (because honestly, you probably won’t fit in the apple train or the corn pit). Children under 2 are also free.
When you first enter the area, they have a few small games including corn hole, as well as some great places to take more cute pictures!
Also near the front is their animal farm. You can see this from the other side of the fence by the parking lot as well. So this is not actually part of the paid admission; it’s free. They have llamas, alpacas, goats, chickens and other little farm animals running around. We actually saw a rogue chicken at one point, heading for some fun at the corn pit. But a worker was able to corral it back over the fence!
Corn Kingdom is a popular spot in the kids activity area! What child doesn’t love corn pits! Every time he was in it, it was pretty full. So it was hard to take some great pictures of the whole area. He had a blast playing in the corn pit. It was hard to pull him out! Thankfully there is an attendant nearby that can get in there and grab your child when needed so you don’t have to try to figure out how to climb in!
There is a small track for John Deere pedal tractors, which were super cute! His legs were a little short for the pedals but he still had fun pushing the truck around!
There is a small hay maze with a tunnel. This kept us busy for a while. He loves a good hay maze! It was easy to walk through and the tunnel definitely made it fun for the kids!
The hay stack is huge! It was a little tricky for our three year old to climb but daddy was there to help! There were lots of adults and kids on this awesome mountain of hay! Word of warning, the hay scratches up your legs when you have shorts on! Both daddy and the boy were covered in scratch marks after climbing up and down that hay stack!!
Of course, the highlight of the day was the apple train. The train only runs on weekends but is included with the wristband admission. There is usually a little line for the train ride; but kids can take as many turns as they want so long as they get back into the line. Children under 2 also have to ride with an adult. He was excited to ride alone!
I think it’s safe to say from the look on this boy’s face, he LOVED Bishop’s Orchards Little Red Barn and the Fall Fun Activities!
But we still had more to do! We had to go apple picking!!
Back to the map we found on their website, you’ll see that Bishop’s Orchards apple picking is located on New England Road. It was about two miles away from the Farm Market on Boston Post Road.
They had tons of signs showing you how to get to the PYO orchards.
And once you get there, they have plenty of signs directing you onto the farm. Of course, this is a working farm and there are a lot of people around, so make sure you heed their warning to drive slowly!
Right when you drive into the farm, you’ll see their corn maze. This year for their 2017 corn maze, Bishop’s Orchard teamed up with Essex Steam Train and created an incredible train shaped corn maze! As of the date of this post, the 2017 corn maze season has closed. But you’ll want to make sure you check out their creation next year! Since we were arriving to the orchard late in the day, and since we had our three year old in tow, we skipped the corn maze this time. We tried a corn maze earlier in the season with him so we knew that it was probably better to skip this time!
Continuing down the road on the farm, you eventually come to the apple orchard. As I mentioned, we caught the final weekend of their apple picking season. So you’ll have to wait until next fall for your chance to pick apples at Bishop’s Orchards! You’ll want to make sure you plan ahead and check their picking schedule online.
There is plenty of space for parking.
Right when you walk up to the red barn, you’ll see their signs for apple picking including the rules, what apples are ripe for picking and their prices. Even though this was the last weekend of their PYO apple season at Bishop’s Orchards, they still had quite the variety of apples! You’ll also spot a table where the workers were handing out bags for collecting your apples.
If you choose to walk the orchard, you can grab a wagon right near the front. You can absolutely walk the orchard. Some areas are a bit of a hike, but if you like walking on a farm, you can definitely choose this option.
With a three year old, and the opportunity to ride a tractor, we went that route!
The tractor ride was great and it gave us the chance to see the whole orchard! Bishop’s Orchards is incredibly beautiful!!
The tractor dropped us off by the location where they were currently picking. There are markers for the rows letting you know which apples can be found where.
We headed for the rows with Pink Lady and Fuji!
The trees are pretty short overall and easy for small children to pick from.
We were really trying to help him understand that you ONLY pick the red ones! I love buying a bag full of green, under-ripe apples. Really.
Of course, there are a few hard to reach branches but that’s what daddies are for!
Daddies are also great for encouraging bad habits…
After we filled up our bag, we made sure to head back to the pick up spot for our tractor ride back to the farmstand. They have a sign right by the pick up area, so you won’t get stranded! The orchard is rather huge and I did not want to have to walk back to the front!
The tractor brought us back to the front where were able to pay for our apples. They took both cash and card for payment.
They also had more donuts, cider and other items for sale at the stand.
And additionally, there was another tent selling food. Of course, we had to buy more donuts and cider…
We had a great day! Bishop’s Orchards was beautiful, and the apples we picked were perfect! I ended up making lots of applesauce with our pickings. I definitely want to visit again for the apples and to try out their corn maze. And of course, the activities at the Little Red Barn were the highlight of my son’s day! He had a great time climbing the hay stack, playing in the corn pit and riding the apple train; and was thoroughly exhausted by the time we left…
This about sums it up…
1355 Boston Post Road – Guilford, Connecticut
Hours: Seasonal – Please make sure to check their website for up to date picking conditions, hours and opening dates.
For 2017: The Little Red Barn and Fall Fun Activities will run until October 31. The Little Red Barn is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Fall Fun Activities run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends, and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Apple picking and the corn maze are closed.
Admission to the Little Red Barn and Pumpkin Patch is Free.
Admission to the Fall Fun Activities is $9 per child (adults and children under 2 are free). On weekdays, admission is only $4.
Some activities cost extra including the corn maze, face painting, pumpkin painting and tattoos.
- Kids Activities available daily. Includes hay maze, hay stack, corn pit, pedal tractors, and apple train rides (on weekends)
- Pumpkins for sale
- Farm Market located on premises.
- Animal farm
- Apple Pick Your Own and Corn Maze are located at a separate location from the Farm Market.
- Strollers will work but remember this is a farm – so baby wear or let your children walk if possible.
- Large parking lot with overflow as needed
- Port a potties. One bathroom located at the Farm Market.
- Cash and Credit accepted
- Food for purchase
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing – it is a farm!