By Joanne Colella
Sometimes, a day trip requires a bit of planning, a check on the weather forecast, and perhaps a couple of hours’ worth of driving to reach your destination. But sometimes, that terrific destination is, figuratively speaking, right in your own backyard.
Such is the case with this month’s day trip suggestion: Delicious Orchards. Located on Route 34 in Colts Neck, this 60,000-square-foot renowned country food market actually is a road trip for many of its legions of fans – astonishingly, more than 2.5 million of them – who flock there from as far away as north and south Jersey, Pennsylvania, Staten Island, and other areas of New York City each year. Luckily for us, Delicious Orchards, or “D.O.” as it’s often warmly called by local visitors, is just a stone’s throw away.
Delicious Orchards, with a history that dates back to 1911, is a colorful and tasty place to be at any time of year, but truly provides the perfect setting to enjoy the wonders of the fall season. The building is surrounded by a sprawling apple orchard, where visitors often settle in to enjoy an outdoor breakfast or lunch. The popular Cider Café serves up salads, wraps, sandwiches, paninis, grilled dishes, and more – all made with premium, local ingredients. Don’t forget to wash it all down with D.O.’s very own fresh-pressed cider, which is made onsite, and tastes equally delicious whether it’s served hot or cold. Does your sweet tooth crave dessert? Then definitely look for their famous apple cider donuts or freshly baked pies, all made from scratch right there in their own bustling bakery. And if you’re heading back home for dinner, you will find an overwhelming assortment of meats and cheeses, local produce, fresh and wild caught seafood, organic specialties, artisan coffees and fine teas – plus more than 120 prepared main and side dishes to choose from for a delectable takeout meal.
The outside patio is lined with seasonal staples for sale, including pumpkins, mums, decorations, and planters that perfectly set the seasonal spirit. In November and December, traffic literally backs up along the road, as throngs of shoppers herald the holidays by stocking up on their favorites among the dozen different pie flavors. With the holiday season nearing, the mail order counter makes shopping a breeze and is a great place to look for beautiful gift baskets, featuring fresh fruit and just about anything you might have seen in the bakery.
Each year, Delicious Orchards presents a number of fun events that offer entertainment for all ages. Last month, for instance, there was a terrific Apple Festival. This month, on Columbus Day, Delicious Orchards will host Pumpkin Fest. Scheduled for Monday, October 10 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., this will be the fourth annual Pumpkin Fest. Held rain or shine, the festival will provide the ultimate fall experience, highlighted by pumpkin painting, games, live music, free food samples from local vendors, and an antique tractor display, emitting countryside charm.
At other times, when the harvest is right, visitors can enjoy a pick-your-own section of seasonal fruits and berries. Delicious Orchards even offers bakery tours to class trips and scout groups. Tours can be scheduled by calling the main office number at (732) 462-1989.
As a vital part of the community for generations, Delicious Orchards also helps local organizations sell specialty items to help achieve their fundraising goals. D.O.’s famous cookie dough is a great year round option, but the most popular is undoubtedly to sell D.O. pies around Thanksgiving.
Have you worked up an appetite for a mouth-watering day trip? Delicious Orchards is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and is closed on Mondays. For more information, visit www.deliciousorchardsnj.com.