If you only have time for one stop in Binghamton, make it Apple Hills. Not only will you get to savor a killer country breakfast with a view of the farm’s rolling meadows, but you can also rub elbows with farm animals, get lost in the corn maze and pick fresh produce if the season’s right. That’s what makes the menu at Apple Dumpling Café, which has been around for three decades, so special: The apples, blueberries and raspberries used in the food are typically grown on the property. (New York apple growers harvest nearly 30 million bushels a year, second only to Washington state.)
Joy Johnson, the farm’s fifth-generation owner, grew up on the grounds and has fond memories of her grandmother’s country cooking and admiring the Milky Way from the blueberry fields as a child (before the night sky was tainted by light pollution, that is). She lives in the same home her great-great-grandfather built on the property in the mid-19th century. After just one visit to Apple Hills, it’s apparent what a community cornerstone her farm is: Strangers will chat you up on the patio like they’ve known you for years, and Johnson credits many of her regulars for seeing her farm through the pandemic.
Head up in the late summer or fall for Joy’s famous apple pancakes, which are nine inches wide and made with Ida Red, Crispin and Honeycrisp apples when in season. (The grilled apple sandwich on house-made 12-grain bread is also a crowd favorite.) If you go earlier in the summer, keep an eye out for menu specials like decadently creamy strawberry soup and mouth-puckering raspberry applesauce.