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Parlee Farms
Photograph: Parlee Farms

The best farms for apple picking near Boston

Have the perfect fall day exploring these local orchards and loading up on crisp, tasty apples straight from the tree

Olivia Vanni
Written by
Olivia Vanni
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It basically isn't fall in New England until you're orchard-bound and apple picking. Each yearl this beloved regional tradition lets all of us celebrate the season to the fullest, allowing us to escape to nature, breathe in that crisp autumn air and load up on local fruit. Fortunately, there are plenty of farms that are an easy drive away from Boston, all prime for our favorite fall activities like picking apples, sipping cider and eating fresh donuts, taking hayrides and petting adorable barnyard animals. As we enter those cozier autumn months, be sure to also check out where to see the best fall foliage in Boston, where to go hiking near Boston, where to go pumpkin picking near Boston and where to get the best hot chocolate in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Boston

Where to go apple picking near Boston

Twelve generations have kept this family-owned and operated farm going strong in North Andover. Enjoy a quintessentially New England fall day as you help yourself to local apple varieties like Cortlands, Macouns, Ginger Golds and Paula Reds. Afterwards, sit down with a homemade apple cider donut or any of the other delicious baked goods fresh from its farm stand. Major plus: This place is dog-friendly, so you can take your pooch apple-picking, too! 

A tractor-drawn hayride takes you out to the orchards at this 70-acre farm in Stow. Once in the fields, you'll find all of your favorite types of apples—your Macs, Paula Reds, Spartans, Winesaps and more—all ripe for the picking. After you've filled your bags with fruit, be sure to stop by the farm store to grab still-warm cider donuts, homemade jams and other baked goods, and take them to the picnic area for some quaint snacking. Other attractions include: farm animals, a hedge maze, a mini-maze for the kiddos and, on the weekends, a hard cider tent.

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  • Attractions

Just a short trip North of the city in Peabody, you’ll find Brooksby Farm and all of its festive fall offerings. Peruse the orchards and pick your own apples before heading to the bakery and indulging in some donuts and other local treats. If you’re making it a family outing, there are tons of activities that’ll keep your little tikes entertained, like a play area, barn animals, hayrides and a fall fairytale trail. Select weekends throughout the season, the farm also offers roaring campfires and supplies to make s’mores. 

Located in South Natick, Lookout Farm is one of the closest options for city-dwellers looking to get their fix of fall. Hop on one of the farm trains, which circle the orchards and bring you to whichever types of juicy apples you wish to pick, including varieties like Gala, Golden Supreme, Shizuka and Macintosh. Grab a bite to eat from its outdoor restaurant, The Lookout, stop by its onsite cidery for a craft beverage and take some homemade baked goods (including cider donuts) home from its farm stand—if you can resist digging into them right away. Take a look at its calendar beforehand to plan your visit around live concerts, events and other activities. 

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Located in the quaint little town of Ipswich, Russell Orchards is well worth an autumn pilgrimage up to the North Shore. Stroll rows upon rows of trees brimming with New England’s most beloved apple varieties, including McIntosh, Empire, Cortland and Crispin. Hunker down at a picnic table to snack on some fresh cider donuts (they also sell ice cream flavored with this seasonal specialty) and sip house-pressed cider. Children can swing by the barn to see the farm animals, while 21+ visitors might be more tempted to hit up the onsite winery, where they can purchase a whole slew of hard ciders and fruit wines. 

This 120-acre farm has been growing produce in Central Mass. since the 1930s. Head to this Harvard farm to explore its orchards and pick your own apples, with varieties including Macoun, Cortland and Crispin. (There's also a secret Baldwin variety that you have to track down on your own). Finish your perfect autumn outing with hot cider and fresh apple crisp, or stop into the taproom for a pull of refreshing hard cider. 

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This Tyngsboro farm is home to 19 acres filled with juicy apples, featuring more than 20 varieties like Macoun, Morning Mist Fuji, Snowsweet and more. After you've gathered your fall stockpile of fruit, venture over to the farmstand and watch as dozens upon dozens of apple cider donuts are made—before devouring a few for yourself. Other seasonal specialties from Mary’s Country Kitchen include warm apple crisp, apple cider and caramel apples. 

Shelburne Farm in Stow is the perfect place to pick popular apple varieties—plus heirloom options that are harder to come by, such as Opalescent, Pink Pearl, Esopus Spitzenburg and Sheepnose. There’s a farm kitchen onsite serving hot cider donuts, sweet treats and items from the grill, in addition to food truck fare. Check out its upcoming schedule of live music and don’t forget to say hello to the barnyard menagerie before you leave.

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Escape to the countryside and visit this family-run farm in Stow. The orchard is open for pick-your-own fruit daily. Stop by the country store for fresh produce (that you don't have to harvest yourself), cider donuts, eggs, jams and jellies, and other homemade treats. Picnicking is welcome, so you can make the most out of your fall day at the farm.

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