They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well what about an apple orchard in a day? Okay, it might not work the same way, but we think a day in the orchard is good for the soul. And now is the time to get to it! All through September, October and November the apple trees are overflowing. Grab some friends and spend a few hours getting provincial – take a hayride, swap your beer for cider and let the harvest begin. Here are some of our favorite spots to get your pick on.
Three words: APPLE CIDER DONUTS. There’s a magical place halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee that serves up some of the finest homemade apple cider donuts east of the Mississippi (and probably west of it too, actually). You’ll work up an appetite after a few hours in the orchards – there’s 10,000 apple trees – so you’ll have earned a few pastries. With a donut in hand, head over to the corn maze or shooting gallery (apple shooters and pumpkin cannons, that is) and embrace all that is autumnal.
Virginia is for lovers, apple pickers and hard cider. Marked by a picturesque red barn in the hills of Appel-achia, you can’t get much more authentic than the rolling hills of Carter Mountain Orchard. Golden Supreme and Gala apples are the early crop, or take a break and switch to some sweet peaches. Whatever you choose, be sure to wash it all down with some hard cider (and maybe a growler to go, too).
“Hip” isn’t often a word associated with apple picking, but this may just be the hippest spot in the Pacific Northwest. With 50-acres of apple and pear farm nestled just north of Mt. Hood, Mt View Orchard has been growing delicious, top-grade, environmentally sustainable fruit for over 40 years. Pop in to pick a bushel, snag one of their famous applesauce cinnamon rolls (or five) and spend a day marveling the mountain and taking in that fresh Fall air. Check their website for fun events during the harvest season like regular farm-to-table dinners and Swiss-Edelweiss Day in late October.
40 minutes outside of Portland, Maine is a little slice of history (and a BIG slice of pie). Brackett’s has been a family operated farm since the 1780s so they’ve perfected the art of the harvest. Fresh apple varietals are popping up all winter long, so stop in every few weeks and see what’s new. Hayrides, U-pick, cider tasting, a country kitchen – everything you imagine when you hear “Apple Harvest” awaits you at Brackett’s. Go ahead, your taste buds will thank you.
California’s orange groves are known for their sweetness, but the little-known apple orchards are pretty darn good too! California’s apple country is in mile-high Oak Glen in Northern California, and it’s certainly keeping up with the apple orchards of the East. Riley’s Apple Farm is one of the original orchards in the area and they’ve got the log cabin and home-cooked fritters to prove it. U-pick is open until they run out, generally in late October so get up there while the gettin’s good.