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apple picking
Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Natalie Grainger

The best places to go apple picking in the U.S. this fall

This autumn, spend time admiring the changing foliage while picking your own apples across the U.S.

Lauren Dana
Written by
Lauren Dana

Bring on the pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters: Autumn is, quite literally, right around the corner. As you plan your next fall escape, consider heading somewhere you can admire fiery foliage while partaking in seasonal outdoor activities such as apple picking in the U.S., which has become a timeless tradition for families and people of all ages. All across the country, you’ll find hundreds—if not thousands—of places where you can pick your own apples straight from the source (read: not the grocery store). Ahead, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite destinations for apple picking, as well as the best orchards and farms: many of which offer additional on-site activities and fall-themed food, drink and festivities to make the experience all the more special.

Best apple picking in the U.S.

Hunterdon County, NJ
Photograph: Courtesy Explore Hunterdon

1. Hunterdon County, NJ

Just 90 minutes outside of New York City and Philadelphia, Hunterdon County, New Jersey is the perfect place for a fun-filled fall escape, be it for the day or the whole weekend, complete with plenty of apple-picking opps. All autumn, travelers can take their pick (pun intended) of options, including Melick’s Town Farm. As the state’s largest apple grower with 20,000 apple trees spread across 650-plus acres, Melick’s is also famed for its fresh-pressed apple cider (including hard cider for those 21-plus) and apple wine, which has a slightly sweet-tangy taste. Pumpkin picking is also available here. The nearby Peterson Family Farm and Phillips Farm also offer apple and pumpkin picking.

Southeast Michigan
Photograph: Courtesy Pure Michigan

2. Southeast Michigan

As the nation’s third-largest producer of apples, Michigan boasts nearly 15 million apple trees and 775-plus farms and orchards throughout the state. In Southeast Michigan, options abound. In addition to traditional apple picking, admission to Blake Farms means access to the petting zoo, cornfield maze, wagon rides and dozens of other activities for the entire family — and grown-ups need not miss their robust hard cider offerings. Diehl’s Orchard and Cider Mill is another great place to check out solely for the cider slushies and pillowy-soft cider donuts. Plan your visit around September 23-24 to attend Ciderfest, where visitors can enjoy face painting, petting farms, pony rides and more.

Loudoun County, VA
Photograph: Courtesy Great Country Farm

3. Loudoun County, VA

Loudoun County, Virginia is best known as Washington, D.C.’s Wine Country, but it’s also a great place to visit in the fall, when apple picking season is in full swing. September is Apple Harvest Month at Great Country Farms, meaning guests can pick apples while sipping fresh-pressed cider in between bites of apple cider donuts. While you’re here, take some time to stroll the 1.5-acre corn maze, hop on a wagon ride, visit with adorable animals and catch live music performances. Tip: Check the farm’s events calendar for the complete list of can’t-miss fall festivities. Alternatively, the family-run Crooked Run Orchard, which dates back more than 200 years, is another beloved spot among locals and travelers alike for its U-pick apples.

Minneapolis-St.Paul Region, MN
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Minneapolis-St.Paul Region, MN

There are a handful of apple orchards within the ​​Minneapolis-St.Paul region (about a half-hour from downtown Minneapolis, which means you won’t have to travel too far out of the way!). At the dog-friendly Apple Jack Orchards, visitors can choose from 29 varieties of apples, pumpkins and even raspberries. After, snag some baked goods (pies, crisps and donuts all await) and head out to the terrace to admire the surrounding fall foliage and water vistas. Alternatively, pick apples at the 1848-era Aamodt’s Apple Farm — but don’t leave without checking out the vineyard, visiting the goat farm, sampling some cider, embarking on a wagon ride or heading out on a hot air balloon tour! Last but not least is the 250-acre Afton Apple Orchard, which has a 15-acre corn maze and an adorable gift shop selling locally-made eats (apple salsa, anyone?). In addition to pick-your-own apples, the orchard also offers U-pick raspberries, pumpkin, gourds, squash and corn, to name a few.

Western Massachusetts
Photograph: Curtesy Bartlett Farms

5. Western Massachusetts

Comprised of Berkshire, Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin counties, Western Massachusetts makes a great weekend getaway from Boston and New York City. Come fall, the region transforms into an autumnal oasis complete with fantastic foliage, family-friendly attractions and, of course, lots of apple-picking opps. Situated in the foothills of the Berkshires near the border of upstate New York is Hilltop Orchards, home to over 30 varieties of apples prime for picking. Once you’ve got your picking fix, head to the on-site cidery, winery or tasting room. Managed by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown offers Instagram-worthy mountain views and over 100 varieties of apples, making it the perfect spot for picking and picnicking. 

Portland Metropolitan Area, OR
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Portland Metropolitan Area, OR

Travelers need not head too far outside of Portland to go apple picking: in fact, there are a handful of options within the area. The aptly named Mt View Orchards is worth the 90-minute drive if not for the 125 varieties, then definitely for the panoramic views of Mt. Hood. Once you’ve picked your apples, consider staying for a scenic picnic or hayride; otherwise, pop into the brewery, winery and tasting room serving farm-fresh cider. Also nearby is the 100-plus-year-old Kiyokawa Family Orchards, which offers equally stunning mountain views— and is well worth a detour on the way back to PDX. However, those looking to stay a little closer to the city should consider the family-run Douglas Farm on Sauvie Island or Sherwood Orchards, dotted with 1,300 fruit trees.

Dutchess County, NY
Photograph: Courtesy Rose Hill Farm/Grant Taylor

7. Dutchess County, NY

Dutchess County in the Hudson Valley lies 90 miles north of New York City. Barton Orchards offers some of the area’s best apple picking with varieties ranging from Early Gold to Macintosh, to Honeycrisp and more — along with an on-site tap room, farm market, dog park, petting zoo and corn maze. The orchard offers festivals every weekend through November, so plan your visit accordingly. Fishkill Farms has been growing apples for over a century; today, visitors can choose from several varieties of apples and pumpkins before heading to the on-site cidery. From mid-September through mid-October, the working farm hosts Harvest Festival Weekends with live music, hayrides, donuts and cider. Other options include Greig Farm (where you can pick apples, feed goats and stroll along scenic trails) and the 100-plus acre Rose Hill Farm (which dates back to 1798 and boasts a cidery and winery).

Sonoma County, CA
Photograph: Courtesy Mine+Farm

8. Sonoma County, CA

Sonoma County may be most famous for its wine, but don’t sleep on the area’s abundance of apples. The 14-acre, solar-powered EARTHseed Farm offers three varieties of U-pick apples, raspberries and Asian pears. At the same time, at Apple-A-Day — Ratzlaff Ranch, visitors can also take their pick of three apple varieties while snacking on fall-themed treats like fresh-baked apple bread. Cap off your visit with a glass of cold-pressed apple juice. Some hotels also offer on-site apple picking, exclusively for guests. For example, The Stavrand, a luxury boutique hotel in the Russian River Valley, offers apples for guests through October. Similarly, Mine+Farm, a quaint inn surrounded by redwoods and rivers, has its own supply of apples in the fall. Guests are provided with bags so they can easily pick their own.

Bucks County, PA
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Bucks County, PA

Less than 50 miles outside of Philadelphia, beautiful Bucks County is chock-full of orchards, farms and, as a bonus, gorgeous foliage. Shadybrook Farm is a regional staple for its pick-your-own sunflowers, apples and pumpkins. On weekends and select dates from now through October, the farm hosts Fall Fest, which features a pumpkin patch, a five-acre corn maze, wagon rides, live music, mouthwatering food and drink options and a Halloween light show. There’s also an on-site farm market and ultra-cozy pub. Tabora Farms offers U-pick sunflowers (through September) and apples (through mid-October), while Solebury Orchards offers scenic wagon rides through the orchards from September through November—that is, in addition to U-pick apples. Last is Solly’s Farm, where baked goods like fruit pies and fresh bread are not to be missed.

Hendersonville, NC
Photograph: Courtesy Visit Hendersonville/Todd Bush

10. Hendersonville, NC

The city of Hendersonville is just south of Asheville, and it’s best known for its walkable downtown, outdoor adventure and family-friendly activities, including—you guessed it—apple picking. The destination is home to a handful of must-visit orchards, including Justus Orchards, which offers dozens of apple varieties to please any palate, from sweet to sour and everything in between. There’s also an apple canyon, an expansive playground area, farm animals, train rides, and festive fall treats like apple cider donuts, fried apple pies, apple cider and cider slushies. Hop on a scenic wagon ride at Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard, where travelers can pick apples, pumpkins, grapes, sunflowers and zinnias before or after strolling the corn maze or shooting the apple cannon.

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