Crisp air. Crunchy leaves. Pumpkin-flavored everything. That’s the recipe for fall. And in the short time between the heat of summer and chilly months of winter, we have to soak in all that new season bliss. This is the time to make memories next to bonfires with friends on cool nights, catch that quintessential autumn Insta pic and marvel at the vibrant colors of the trees. So throw on a sweater, pull on your boots and get ready to plan out a day dedicated to one of the most popular fall activities of all: apple picking.
If you’re near Portland
Oregon’s Hood Valley is home to Kiyokawa Family Orchards, which grows a variety of apples and pears. In operation since 1951, you’ll get top-notch views of Mt. Hood and reasonably priced fresh fruit. Check out the orchard’s online detailed ripeness calendar to figure out exactly when your fave produce is ready for picking.
If you’re near Seattle
Did you know Washington state is responsible for serving up more than 50 percent of America’s apples each year? Now that’s something to celebrate. Johnson Orchards in Yakima County goes back 100 years and offers all your apple variety needs, plus an assortment of other sweet fruits like peaches, apricots and plums. Oh, and don’t forget to check out their signature pies. Yum.
If you’re near Los Angeles
An hour drive out of the skyscrapers and you’ll land at Los Rios Rancho, the largest apple farm in southern California. Operating for over 110 years, the 8,000-fruit tree orchard uses its agricultural heritage to host public events and living history field trips. The 32 different unique apple varieties are grown without pesticides or harmful chemicals, and during the off-season, the orchard brings in other local organic farmers’ apples to support neighboring farms and satisfy its customers’ craving for the crunchy fruit.
If you’re near Minneapolis
There’s something to say about a place that’s eco-conscious and fun-focused. Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater, Minn., aims to minimize its impact on Mother Earth by using a minimal amount of insect spray, letting apples that drop stay on the ground to fertilize naturally ,and watering only from what falls from the sky and collects in their rain garden. With 6,000 trees on 50 acres of land, the third- and fourth-generation apple growers have plenty for you to pick. And if you’re looking for more, be sure to check out the tractor rides, goat petting area and wine tasting sessions.
If you’re near Chicago
This “how we started” story is too cute: In 1991, 7- and 10-year-old siblings combined their allowance of $8 and purchased pumpkin seeds. That fall, those seeds grew into 200 pumpkins, which their mom sold in the front yard for fun. Neighbors and friends soon started asking for pumpkins and even apples the next year, so they grew them. Over 25 years and 2,000 apple trees later, the family is now known as Prairie Sky Orchard. Pro tip: When you visit, grab a coffee and slice of pie at their kiosk before strolling through the tree lanes for your batch of juicy fruits.
If you’re near Atlanta
The Peach State dabbles in apples, too! Visit Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Ga., a fourth-generation, family-owned orchard with you-pick events, a bakery and deli, market store and winery. Fun fact: It’s one of the few wineries that grows, presses, ferments and bottles its own product. Be prepared to bring back a bottle or two.
If you’re near Washington, D.C.
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains about an hour outside of D.C., Stribling Orchard in Markham, Va., has all your fall needs: apples, pumpkins and hot cider. Pack a picnic basket or pick up honey, jams, local cheese and fresh baked goods from their market-. That is, after swinging by the barn to say “hi” to your farm animal friends.
If you’re near New York City
Escape the big apple by picking your own at Outhouse Orchards, located just a train ride out of the city in the Hudson River Valley. The family-operated apple farm is open all year round. Aside from apple picking, there’s also animal farm, pumpkin patch, corn maze and hayrides in the fall. Plus, vendors selling turkey legs, ice cream and donuts mean you can munch your way through each activity.
If you’re near Boston
Sure, picking juicy apples and frolicking through orchard trees is fun, but so is sampling hard apple ciders. At Bear Swamp Orchard in Ashfield, Mass., you can pick your own apples and enjoy a collection of craft brews. The tasting room is open Fridays and weekends beginning September 19, so start planning your getaway now. And if that didn’t entice you enough, feel good about munching on your load later, as Bear Swamp avoids all pesticides, even the organic-friendly ones
If you’re near Charlotte, N.C.
The name says it all. At Sky Top Orchard, you’ll want to sit back and gasp at the panoramic mountain views. Along with apple picking, visitors enjoy meeting furry and feathered animals in the barnyard area, exploring the bamboo forest and indulging in the orchard’s famous apple cider doughnuts. A downloadable map also helps guests navigate the grounds and take in all it has to offer. Happy apple picking!