Whether you’re eating, drinking, bobbing, or decorating them, apples are an essential part of kicking off fall. When the first gust of cool air meets your lungs, all you want is fresh, crisp apple dipped in caramel. Luckily, pick-your-own apple farms exist all over the country and usually offer family activities and homemade goodies to make the trip truly worthwhile.
For urbanites everywhere, apple picking is the perfect weekend trip to escape the hustle of city life and retreat to someplace green. The Northeast in particular is home to a multitude of apple orchards and farms, some only an hour train ride from Washington, D.C., and New York City. There really is no excuse for missing out on the fruits of the season.
Apple picking season usually lasts from August to early November, but you will want to check in on your local farm for the specific ripening times of your favorite varieties. Keep in mind that orchards will be busiest on holiday weekends and late in the afternoon. Skip the crowds and take a day trip during the week — early afternoon is best.
We rounded up some of the best places for apple picking across the country and ranked them based on the variety of apples available, number of family-friendly activities, how often the farm is open, and how large the actual farm is.
Whether you’re looking for a fun-for-the-whole-family experience or a #darling Instagram to spruce up your feed, you won’t want to miss out on the iconic American pastime of apple picking.
#20 Chileno Valley Ranch, Petaluma, Calif.
Located about 11 miles west of Petaluma, Chileno Valley Ranch has an organic apple orchard featuring new varieties for apple picking. The ranch is open for u-pick apples on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October. Among the certified organic apples available for u-picking are Orin, Pinova, Molly’s Delicious, and Jonathan’s Pride. The 600-acre property is operated by Mike and Sally Gale and operates primarily as a cattle ranch, but they also offer plein-air art workshops and wedding services. — CBS San Francisco
#19 Wilson Banner Ranch, Clarkston, Wash.
This Washington ranch is devoted to using sustainable growing methods and sells peas, onions, lentils, beans, and harvested-on-site honey — in addition to the apples and pears you can pick right off the trees. To see what’s in season, visit their website. They also have a fun-filled Harvest Fair during two weekends in October. Look forward to a maze, live music, a petting zoo, local artisans selling their crafts, an obstacle course, and even a pie-eating contest. — Teresa K. Traverse