Ultimate Guide to Apple and Pumpkin Picking

How (and where) to take full advantage of the classic flavors of the season

Photo Pumpkins Modified: Flickr/ Rich Bowen/ CC4.0

Who doesn't love pumpkin picking?

Pink Lady: Always a winner for its charming pink hue, this candy-colored apple may never make it to the kitchen. And with a long shelf life, Pink Ladies (pictured below) are an excellent bunch for blush-colored applesauce, and yearlong snacking. Put this version of apple compote to the test — does it look even better in pink? (Photo courtesy of Flickr/iainsimmons)

Now that we’ve got you salivating over a feast of apples, you’re ready to head to the hills (er, farms). With an abundance of choices from Washington’s apple country to the shores of Michigan’s Great Lakes, we’ve picked out a few of the best farms across America…

FARMS

Riverview Orchards New York

Escape the city and head upstate to Riverview Orchards. Don’t miss the donut robot, where a fresh apple cider donut is made hands-free as you watch through a glass window. Or head over to the beehive for a behind-the-scenes look at more than 50,000 working bees. Then stop at the honey house, where you can watch them making honey. Take a load off on leisurely nighttime hayride for one last glimpse at the countryside. Then it’s time to sit down at a bonfire complete with cider, s’mores and of course, apple cider donuts.

Johnson OrchardsWashington

Johnson Orchards has honored its apple country roots for the past 100 years. Featuring programs like Art in the Orchard, where adults can sip fresh cider as they listen to music and check out local artwork, Johnson Orchards is a unique experience for all. For the kids, head to The Little Bake Shop for a slice of freshly baked pie, and some copper pot caramels.

King Orchards — Michigan

At King Orchards in northwestern Michigan, it’s not just apples you’ll be picking. With more than 130 acres of pie-perfect cherries, you can find the fixings here for a medley of fruit dishes. Climb one of their many rolling hills and take in the surrounding views of Lake Michigan. Before you leave, make sure to pause and breathe in the crisp country air, scented with the fragrance of freshly picked fruit.

Smolak FarmsMassachusetts

Get back to the basics at Smolak Farms. With one of the largest selections of apples in the Northeast region, this location is a classic example of fun on the farm. Kids have a multitude of activities to choose from, whether it is visiting the petting zoo, taking a hayride, or having a duck race. As the day comes to an end, gather around the bonfire, and gaze at the stars as you sip some hot apple cider.  

Abel’s Apple AcresCalifornia

Apple season isn’t exclusive to the Northeast! California has some truly scenic farms, including Abel’s Apple Acres. After you rustle up your apples, head over to the bakeshop and indulge in custom-flavored fudge, choosing from more than 22 flavors. For something apple-y and savory, try the chicken, apple, and walnut sandwich, made fresh in their country kitchen. Spend the rest of your day getting lost in the hay maze, and reward yourself with a fresh glass of cold apple cider.

Related

Now that you’ve picked enough apples to last you through winter, it's time to focus on the other fruit of the season: pumpkins. With their bright, fall colors, pumpkins conjure images of fairytales and spooky stories. Whether you are planning to carve your pumpkin into an eerie jack o’ lantern, or scoop out its insides to use for a pie, this treat can be used for fun and feasting for the entire family.