by Mandy Major
Come fall, what could be better than baking with ripe, juicy apples? Picking them yourself, of course! Though New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington are the top four apple-producing states, there are orchards across the country with troves of Golden Delicious, Gala, Honeycrisp and other delicious varieties ready for the picking. Plan your trip sometime between mid-September and early October, so wherever you're located, the foliage will be lush and the plucking prime. To help plan your apple-picking adventure, we spoke with Allison Parker, director of consumer health and education for the U.S. Apple Association, to find out which orchards have a variety of apples available on family-friendly grounds. We narrowed the list down to the 10 below-but before you head out, call the orchard to make sure it's open as well as confirm that the apple varieties you want are available (they often vary based on weather and time of year). Then, you'll be ready to take a bite out of autumn.
Photo: © courtesy of King Orchards
Applewood Orchards in Warwick, New York
Nestled in the middle of the Hudson Valley, this 112-acre has offered u-pick apples since 1972. Between September and October, you'll find a variety of apples for the offering, including McIntosh Red, Cortland, Empire and Honeycrisp early on, and Gala, Golden Delicious and Rome later in the season. In addition to apple picking, the orchard offers wagon rides, puppet shows, a country store (which includes the orchard's own wine) and a number of ponds for picnicking. ApplewoodOrchards.com, 82 Four Corners Road, Warwick, NY, 10990; (845) 986-1684
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Mackey's Orchard in Belvidere, New Jersey
Owned and operated by the same family for eight generations, this 96-acre farm offers a 45-acre orchard atop a mountain with views of the Delaware Water Gap. The orchard offers more than 100 varieties of apples between late August and November, with u-pick only available in September and October. Visitors reach the summit of the orchard via a 20-minute hayride (which costs $2 per person; children under 2 are free); once there, you can enjoy miniature golf, a greenhouse and a farm stand, in addition to the Mackey's Ice Cream Barn, which offers 42 homemade flavors-including pumpkin during the u-pick season. MackeysOrchard.com, 284B County Route 519, Belvidere, NJ, 07823; (908) 475-1507
Bishop's Orchards in Guilford, Connecticut
Set near the Long Island Sound shoreline, Bishop's Orchards has been in business since 1871, growing from a small farmstand to a year-round farm with various pick-your-own crops. This year, apple season kicks off with a corn maze on September 3 and a hay maze on September 10; in addition to the mazes, guests can browse the orchard's market, winery, bakery and plant store. During the height of the season, 10 varieties are offered, typically including Macoun, Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious and, later in October, Braeburn and Empire. BishopsOrchards.com, 1355 Boston Post Road, Guilford, CT, 06437; (203) 453-2338
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Tougas Family Farm in Northboro, Massachusetts
A proponent of integrated pest management, which uses minimal chemicals in order to control insects, this environmentally-minded farm has been owned and operated by the Tougas family since 1981. The 88-acre orchard offers nearly 20 varieties of apples come autumn, including McIntosh, Gala, Cortland, Honeycrisp, Macoun, SunCrisp, Zestar! and Jonagold. Guests can take a hayride to the orchard, which also has a bakery and barnyard on site, in addition to a playground, face painting and wagon rides for children. TougasFarm.com, 246 Ball Street, Northboro, MA, 01532; (508) 393-6406
Hollabaugh Brothers in Biglerville, Pennsylvania
Set in the middle of apple country near historic Gettysburg, this 500-acre, family-owned farm has been in business for more than 50 years. The orchard boasts a long u-pick season (August through mid-October) and nearly 20 varieties are up for grabs, including Golden Supreme, Jonathan, Smokehouse, Winesap, Cortland, York Imperial, Granny Smith and Pink Lady. Children can enjoy wagon rides as well as an educational bee room (which contains working hives on display), a bakery and market. HollabaughBros.com, 545 Carlisle Road, Biglerville, PA, 17307; (717) 677-9494
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Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville, Virginia
This mountaintop orchard run by the Chiles family is a big draw for history buffs, as it sits adjacent to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's former home. The expansive orchard has been hosting pick-your-own apples since the mid-1970s, and now offers up a dozen varieties during the season, including Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Winesap and Fuji. If you're not up to picking apples, the orchard sells pre-packed bags in its Apple Barn, and also has a country store, wine shop and tasting room, and bakery. CarterMountainOrchard.com, 575 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, VA, 22902; (434) 977-1833
J.H. Stepp Farm's Hillcrest Orchard in Hendersonville, North Carolina
Set in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, this 40-acre orchard is part of a larger working farm that's been owned by the Stepp family for 41 years. More than 20 varieties of apples are available for plucking, including Crispin, Ultra Gold, Law Rome and Golden Delicious. Picnic lunches are encouraged, as are educational farm tours and wagon rides through the orchard. Guests can buy already picked and bagged apples, in addition to gifts and apple products, at the site's country market. SteppApples.com, 221 Stepp Orchard Drive, Hendersonville, NC, 28792; (828) 685-9083
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King Orchards in Central Lake, Michigan
Situated high in the hills near Lake Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay, this first-generation-owned orchard is famed for its cherries, but also produces scores of fresh apples in autumn. Of its 200-plus acres, 96 are devoted to apples, including Ginger Gold, Paula Red, Jersey Mac, Honeycrisp, Empire and Northern Spy. KingOrchards.com, 4620 N M-88, Central Lake, MI, 49622, (877) 937-5464
Aamodt's Apple Farm in Stillwater, Minnesota
What began as a small apple orchard started by a couple in 1948 is now a three-generation, 60-acre apple farm owned by the Aamodt family. Home to a number of local festivals, this site houses several historic farm buildings as well as a bakery, gift shop and vineyard. Children can enjoy hay wagon rides and a hay bale maze in fall; for apples, families can pick from more than 10 varieties, including Sweet 16, Gala, Cortland, Honeygold, Minnesota Honeycrisp, Haralson, Regent and Keepsake. AamodtsAppleFarm.com, 6428 Manning Avenue, Stillwater, MN, 55082; (651) 439-3127
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Johnson Orchards in Yakima, Washington
This 60-acre orchard is right in the middle of central Washington's Yakima Valley, a thriving agricultural area that includes farms and winery vineyards. Established more than 100 years ago by the Johnson family, the orchard is home to historic buildings, including a 1900s fruit-packing warehouse that's still used today, as well as scores of accessible apple trees. Depending on the month, visitors can find Ginger Gold, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Swiss Gourmet and more. JohnsonOrchardsFruit.com, 4906 Summitview Avenue, Yakima, WA, 98908; (509) 966-7479
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Article originally appeared on WomansDay.com.
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by Mandy Major