October may be winding down, but there’s still plenty of fall fun to be had, perhaps even the most amazing fun of all. I’m talking about the 10-acre corn maze at Stony Hill Farms in Chester, NJ. This full-service farm and family fun-plex boasts the largest corn maze in the state and features a new theme each year. Past maze themes ranged from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt to Manhattan, but this year the theme’s focus is closer to home. The theme cropping up in the crop this fall is the Garden State Governor’s Race, which zeros in on the two main candidates and presents all sorts of facts about the great and glorious Garden State.
An impressive arial shot of the cornfield reveals the maze is carved out in the likeness of incumbent Chris Christie and his democratic challenger Barbara Buono, a feat which may be lost on the ground but makes this not only the largest maze in the state but also the most amazing maze. As maze-goers navigate along Chris Christie’s chin or Barbara Buono’s cheek, they’ll learn about historic landmarks in the state as well as interesting N.J. trivia. Call it an outdoor recreational, educational, fall family fun fest.
Start your adventure with a short video of how to navigate and play the games throughout the maze. There are three – play one or all. Then hit the trail to see what you can find out while you try to find your way out. The maze takes anywhere from one to three hours so come prepared. But don’t panic. Benches are stationed throughout, and Maze Masters wander the paths ready to assist any lost explorers.
If you don’t feel quite ready to tackle the ultimate maze challenge of your life or have little ones who aren’t seasoned enough, the farm offers a smaller, one-acre mini-maze as well as several other short mazes and the Noah’s Ark playground featuring a large, wooden ship, all included in the Maze Fun Park ticket price. The farm also offers gemstone mining in their Miner Max Maze for an additional fee. Awaiting kids at the end of the Miner Max’s challenging transparent fencing maze is the mining sluice, offering kids an old-time panning for gold experience. For $4.99 per small gemstone bag or $6.99 per large, kids can sprinkle the contents of their mystery bag into a screen-bottom box and “sluice” it in the water flume to wash away the dirt, revealing a sparkling gemstone prize.
The maze runs through November 10th. Hours are from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights in October with the last ticket sold one hour before closing without exceptions so get there early. If you’re planning to meander the maze after dark remember to bring flashlights. You’re gonna need it. It’s dark out there. And be aware anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to enter the maze after 6 p.m. They’re serious. Be prepared to show a photo I.D.
Now for the good stuff: Ticket prices
Ages 10yrs +: $12.99 each
Ages 3-9yrs: $10.98 each
Ages 2 yrs and under: FREE
Of course, this being the garden state, the family-run farm also offers pick-your-own pumpkins and apples just down the road at their other location. The fields are filled with giant pumpkins and 19 varieties of dwarf apple trees from Fuji and Ginger Gold to Snow Sweet and Suncrisp. Take a hayride to the pumpkin patch and then tramp over to the apple orchard to get your fill of the fall season’s most quintessential fruit. The growing season typically runs from September through mid October for apples so this weekend may be your last chance. Picking hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily for pumpkins and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for apples. Call 908-879-2696 for availability.
For those not up for picking your own after a day of mining and mazing, Stony Hill’s farm market presents a bountiful array of Jersey Fresh produce, pumpkins, plants, and baked goods from their own bakery as well as other gourmet items for your pleasure.
After you’ve had your fun and loaded up your car with all the treats and treasures of the season, spend the rest of the afternoon wandering the quaint streets of downtown Chester. The Farm Market and Maze Fun Park are just on the edge of the town center, and with a two minute drive you’ll find yourself in the heart of the action. The picturesque town has a number of specialty shops, antique stores, pizza joints and ice cream pallors to peruse and sample. Stop for dinner at the historic Public House Tavern and Inn, an enormous, three-story brick building a block-long with broad, wrap-around front porch and white columns supporting the balcony stretching nearly the length of the building above. The inviting space, built in 1810 and formerly a hotel and tavern, has been restored to it’s former glory and remains a public gathering place. As a restaurant for fine dinning, an elegant bar, a gelateria for a sweet treat and brick-oven pizza and outdoor patio for casual dining, the spot offers a little something for everyone. And soon The Public House will once again add lodge to its list of services.
My family stopped, dining on the restaurant’s front porch, as a nice way to end a perfect fall day. We enjoyed the cozy atmosphere, the fairly extensive beer list and found the food quite good. The only thing lacking was the service, which while not exactly attentive was very friendly. Still, a good bet for a bite in Hunterdon County.