No matter where you decide to go, these apple orchards are full of juicy treats.
Break out your favorite flannel and hiking boots because autumn means it’s time to hit up local apple orchards. These are no longer just mom-and-pop farm stands. Many have upped their agri-tourism game in recent years and now produce cider, wine or spirits (best experienced in a tasting room), or boast amenities like overnight accommodations, restaurants, and classes in yoga, salsa and cooking. You can also feel good about visiting these family-owned businesses who work hard to keep agriculture out of the hands of corporations.
For the skinny on which apple varieties will be sold the week of your visit, check out the orchard’s website or Facebook page that you’ll be visiting. You wouldn’t want to miss out on Honeycrisp apples, now would you?
From the Midwest to Southern California–and picturesque spots along the East Coast, too–here are 11 apple orchards that evoke farmstead flair.
WHERE: Burlington, Wisconsin
Midway between Chicago and Milwaukee, in Racine County, Brightonwoods Orchard grows around 150 antique and heirloom apple varieties, including ones you’ve probably never heard of like the Hubbardston Nonesuch (named for the Massachusetts town it was first discovered in during the early 19th century). Sip cider and wine crafted from these very apples—plus Perry, or pear cider—inside a barn at Aeppeltreow Winery & Distillery. Bring a bag to take home apples, cheese spreads, cider, and fall produce. Although not a U-pick orchard, you can walk along woodsy trails and through the orchards. In late September, the orchard hosts a Brazilian Carnaval dinner.
INSIDER TIPDon’t even think about leaving until you’ve climbed into the two-story treehouse.
Westwind Orchard & Cidery
WHERE: Accord, New York
Yep, there really is an orchard with salsa dancing, a pizzeria, and movie nights. Located 95 miles north of Manhattan, Westwind’s property will keep you busy (hello, day trip!) with U-pick apples; their full kitchen also serves pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas, dolci (including tiramisu), and the cidery produces six hard ciders (which you can taste). Open on weekends, the farmstand sells everything from hoodies to local ceramics, in addition to organically-grown produce and soap crafted down the road. Forgot a bag? No worries—just add a basket made in Ghana to your tab.
INSIDER TIPDon’t even think about leaving until you’ve climbed into the two-story treehouse.
WHERE: Shelburne, Vermont
Now on its second generation, Shelburne Orchards harvests apples from around 6,000 trees and 90% of those apples—farmed using organic practices—are sold at the farm. Bring your palate because it’s not just apples you’ll bite into—try cider donuts and pies, too—along with sippable treats in the tasting room, like ginger cider and apple brandy (called Dead Bird Brandy). Unique events go beyond live music and hayrides, with options such as Taiko drumming and “golden donut” hunts (find a wooden donut painted gold and you win a free donut!). A taco truck is parked at the orchard on weekends to make sure you’re properly fueled after apple-picking.
INSIDER TIPDreaming of your very own apple orchard? Shelburne Orchards sells trees…
Edwards Apple Orchard West
WHERE: Winnebago, Illinois
Locally famous for its apple-cider donuts, around 18 varieties of apples—including the super-popular Honeycrisp, developed at the University of Minnesota—are grown at Edwards Apple Orchard West near Rockford. If you want to pick your own apples and pumpkins, add this orchard to your list. Kids love the playground while weekend tractor rides take you out into the fields. History and architecture buff? Then you’ll love the century-old renovated barn that’s been converted into a retail space.
Apple Dave’s Orchards
WHERE: Warwick, New York
Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley, Apple Dave’s Orchards packs a lot of activities onto its 130 acres, where some of the trees planted in the 1950s at this family-owned orchard still are. There’s a walking trail around the lake, samples from the distillery onsite, and live music (weekends only). Hay rides are a great way to see the farm in a short period of time. Eleven varieties of apples are grown here—from Cortland to Red Delicious—and the grocery selections are strong, including honies, jams, jellies, apple pies, apple donuts, and apple cider. You can opt to pick your own apples or simply scoop up a pre-picked bag.
INSIDER TIPNever seen a puppet show at an apple orchard? Plan your visit during one, no matter how old you are.
Los Rios Rancho
WHERE: Oak Glen, California
Dating back to 1906, Los Rios Rancho—an easy day trip for Angelinos—is tucked into a thriving, century-old apple-growing region (check out Oak Glen Apple Growers Association’s website for stats and history). At 300 acres, it’s also Southern California’s largest apple farm. So, whether you just want to participate in U-pick apples, or plan on scheduling a trip around an event like the region’s annual apple-butter festival or Victorian Christmas celebration, you’re in for a treat. Organic heirloom apples (from Arkansas Black to Winesaap varieties) are used to make hard cider and are sold onsite, via a 1930s cider mill. Non-alcoholic apple cider, jams, and jellies are also sold in the retail store and a lunch menu that offers sandwiches (with sides of apple slaw) encourages guests to linger longer.
INSIDER TIPKnow someone about to get married—or perhaps you? Los Rios Rancho is a popular ceremony site.
Philo Apple Farm
WHERE: Philo, California
With a mantra of “come soak up the farm life,” this apple farm in Mendocino County not only hosts a farm stand but it also wants to host you for the night. Choose from a guest room as well as three cottages—nestled among apple trees, of course—when you book the “stay and cook” package offered during select weekends this fall, which includes daily breakfast, two nights’ accommodations, and cooking classes. Its 1,700 apple trees achieved Demeter (biodynamic) status in 2005—a testament to the owners’ organic-agriculture philosophy, which it has taken on the road to the Slow Food Terra Madre event in Italy.
INSIDER TIPCan’t make it to the farm? Drop by the owners’ chic Farmhouse Mercantile in downtown Boonville.
Carter Mountain Orchard
WHERE: Charlottesville, Virginia
There’s more to do at Carter Mountain Orchard than U-pick apples. On Thursday nights through the end of September, live music is paired with sunset views for the Thursday Evening Sunset Series—come early for dinner at Mountain Grill, where a meal might include pulled-pork BBQ, a cheese plate, and apple pie. Load up on apple pies, jam, jellies, and butter (plus, cider donuts!) at the country store and market; Carter Mountain Vineyards’ wines (via the Prince Michel Vineyard and Winery label) can also be purchased here. If you’re more of a cider person, Bold Rock Cellar’s ciders—produced elsewhere, but using the orchard’s apples—are poured here, too.
WHERE: New Hope, Pennsylvania
Located in Bucks County, 40 miles north of Philly, Solebury Orchards harvests not only apples but a host of other fruits (like blueberries and peaches), as well, on its 80 acres. While there’s a U-pick option for apples you can also buy bags at the farm. Locals have come to recognize and love Solebury Orchards’ cider. Check the website for up-to-date details on what’s sold at the farm, from Summer Sweet in July to Pixie Crunch in late September. There are 26 apple varieties in all. This is a rare example of a year-round farm, with applesauce, cider, and apple juice sold at the farm even during winter. Gold Rush is the latest in the season to ripen, and U-pick is offered for this variety through early November.
Mt. View Orchards
WHERE: Parkdale, Oregon
This 50-acre orchard (rightfully) flaunts both its apple crops but stunning views of Mt. Hood. The owners are all part of the same family, spanning three generations and continuing its 50-year history, which includes opening the property up to weddings (yep, it’s that stunning). Visitors are invited to U-pick apples as well as—on Saturdays—take a hayride to see the grounds. Bring-your-own picnics are also welcome. Carlos the Steer, who is the resident steer, has become such a favorite that he now has his own line of T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats, all sold at the fruit stand alongside apples. Keep an eye on the website for news on its farm-feast series.
INSIDER TIPThe last Saturday in October is Swiss-Edelweiss Day in case you want to go deeper into the family’s Swiss heritage (a full traditional Swiss meal is served, in addition to plus yodeling and accordion music).
Apple Jack Orchards
WHERE: Delano, Minnesota
You’ve heard of goat yoga—but what about on an apple farm? That’s what you get each May at Apple Jack Orchards, a 45-minute drive northwest of the Twin Cities. There’s a mini “zip line” for kids, apple cannon, “cow train,” chickens running around, and a resident goat. And because the orchard sources from other Midwestern farms, you can also purchase Michigan blueberries, cherries (both tart and dark) and peaches, in addition to the wildly popular (locally-grown) Honeycrisp apples, which are sold in the orchard’s store.