By Melanie Fincher

The best apple picking near you.

Few things are more American than apple picking... well, maybe apple pie, but that's about it. No matter where you are across the continental U.S., apple picking should be the first on your list of festive fall activities. There's no better way to kick off the season of cooler days and brisk evenings than by strolling through an orchard with freshly pressed cider in hand. Plan your next trip to the orchard with this guide to the best apple picking in every region of the U.S. Read on to find the best apple picking near you.

Photo by Getty Images

Best Apple Picking in the West

From the sunny fields of California to the countless autumn orchards of the Pacific Northwest, some of the nation's best orchards are located along the West Coast. Washington alone produces over half the apples grown within the U.S., making it no surprise to anyone that apples were designated the official state fruit of Washington in 1989. It's not fall on this side of the country without a visit to the apple orchard. Read on for some of the best orchards the West has to offer.

Photo by Mt. View Orchards and Cidery

1. Los Rios Rancho, Oak Glen, California

Located just over an hour from the heart of L.A., city folk flock to Los Rios Rancho every weekend for a festive fall getaway. U-Pick fruit is available Labor Day to Thanksgiving, or while produce lasts. Expect to find a variety of apples to choose from, including Granny Smith, Spartan, and Red Rome. Be sure to stop by their quaint country kitchen for a fresh baked apple pie or cold glass of cider. And bring a camera because there will be plenty of photo ops and fall activities — like nature trails, live music, a petting zoo, wagon rides, horseback rides, and hard cider tasting to name a few.

2. Willowbrook Apple Farm, Yucaipa, California

Another California orchard tops the list — Willowbrook Apple Farm is conveniently located just over an hour from L.A. Beginning in early October, the orchard is open for U-Pick apples every Saturday and Sunday. The apple trees at Willowbrook Apple Farm were planted in 1910 and have been cared for by generations of family farmers. While you're surrounded by the San Bernardino mountains, enjoy fresh-pressed apple cider as you stroll through the picturesque landscape.

3. Mt. View Orchards and Cidery, Mt. Hood, Oregon

If you're looking for variety, Mt. View Orchards and Cidery has you covered with 125 apple varieties grown on a 50-acre apple and pear farm near Parkdale, Oregon. Pack your camera because Mt. View Orchard is nestled just north of Mt. Hood, and surrounded by fields of flowers where over 100 flower varieties are grown. Every Saturday in October, guests can enjoy a festive ride through the orchards, stopping to visit the farm animals (including Carlos the Steer). Mt. View Orchards has been growing fresh fruit for three generations in the heart of apple country.

4. Gizdich Ranch, Watsonville, California

Located just south of San Jose, this Northern California orchard is a breath of fresh air for anyone looking to get out of the city. Gizdich Ranch recommends picking their apples straight from the tree before enjoying a picnic in the orchard and hills. U-Pick apples are available seven days a week starting in mid-September, and ending when their produce is gone. Stop by the pie shop on your way out, and choose between nine different types of pie. Or enjoy their apple slush made with fresh-pressed apple juice on a warm fall afternoon!

5. Kiyokawa Family Orchards, Parkdale, Oregon

This family-owned and operated farm is located in the heart of Hood River Valley, where some of the nation's finest apples and pears are grown. The Kiyokawa Family Orchard, which has been growing since 1911, now offers over 120 varieties of apples and pears. Enjoy the view of Mt. Hood as you pick apples at the largest U-Pick orchard in the valley. Open seven days a week, apple picking is available at the orchards during the months of September and October. Stop by their fruit stand for apple turnovers, jams, and fresh cider in addition to pre-picked fruits.

6. Apple Creek Orchards, Ferndale, Washington

Nestled in the northwestern corner of Washington, two hours north of Seattle, is the quaint Apple Creek Orchards in Ferndale, Washington. The orchard is open for apple picking every day except Wednesdays during the month of October. Their U-Pick apple orchard features Jonagold, Honey Crisp, Melrose, Mutsu, Gala, and Snow Sweet apples. While many orchards boast dozens of fall farm activities, Apple Creek Orchard describes their farm as having "no bakery, no gift shop, no train, no deli, just apples." So bring a camera and enjoy the simple things in life — gorgeous mountain views, crisp air, and fresh Washington apples.

Best Apple Picking in the Midwest

There is no shortage of apple orchards in America's heartland. The apple tree is one of the most commonly grown fruit trees in the Midwest. These trees love sunshine, but require a cold winter to produce viable fruit, making them suitable for growth in the Midwest. Discover the best apple orchards for some Midwestern family fun this fall.

Photo by Center Grove Orchard

1. Apple Jack Orchards, Delano, Minnesota

Since 1983, Apple Jack Orchards has grown from 250 trees to over 10,000 trees, including 29 Minnesota apple varieties. Located 25 miles from Minneapolis, this family-run farm offers U-Pick apples every weekend beginning in early September. Shop at the country store for all your fall decorating and gift needs, and take the kids to the Fun Farm, which includes a wagon ride, corn maze, zip lines, and an apple cannon.

2. Eckert's Belleville Farm, Belleville, Illinois

Eckert's has four locations across Illinois and Kentucky, with its roots dating back to 1837. Today the orchards are being overseen by the sixth and seventh generations of the Eckert family. At the Belleville location, pick-your-own apples are available daily, along with pre-picked homegrown apples available at the country store. Weekends at Eckert's are packed with fall fun, including the Pumpkin Jamboree (complete with wagon rides, live entertainment, festival food, and carnival activities) and Haunted Hayrides. Whether you come to pick apples or not, there is no shortage of fall activities at Eckert's.

3. County Line Orchard, Hobart, Indiana

This Indiana orchard is just an hour drive from bustling Chicago, which is well worth it for the scenic countryside views and farm-fresh apples. Take a tractor ride down to the orchards where U-Pick apples are ripe for the pickin' September through October. Check out the bee yurts, corn maze, and kids farm that make this orchard fun for all ages.

4. Patterson Fruit Farm, Chesterland, Ohio

Head out to Patterson's located just outside of Cleveland for a truly fall experience. This fruit farm is open daily during the months of September and October for apple picking. Head to the farm market for high-quality produce, and enjoy the scenic view of Orchard Hills Park, located just in sight of Lake Erie. Check out the Fun Fest, open daily mid-September through late October. Kids will enjoy the fall-themed play area and pony rides while you take in the sights.

5. Erwin Orchards Inc., Lyon, Michigan

This third generation family farm planted its first tree in 1920, and is now managing 200 acres of fruit. U-Pick apples are available starting in late August until supplies last (about late October). Their award-winning cider is available at the cider mill all season, along with apple spice and pumpkin donuts. And don't forget to test your navigation skills in the corn maze!

6. Center Grove Orchard, Cambridge, Iowa

Located 25 miles north of Des Moines, Center Grove Orchard planted their first trees in 1986, and now have over 6,000 apple trees of different varieties. Step into the Farmyard, which features over 25 attractions including a corn maze, animal farm, a train ride, and more. Pick up freshly-picked apples, butters, preserves and more at the country store. Grab a U-Pick bag and get apple pickin' at the orchard, which is open for apple picking late August through early November.

Best Apple Picking in New England

New England has a rich history of apple growing. What the region lacks in size, it more than makes up for in sweet, sour, and delicious apples. Many of the nation's top orchards reside in this region. Learn more about them here:

Photo by Shelburne Orchards

1. Applecrest Farm, Hampton Falls, New Hampshire

Applecrest Farm is New Hampshire's oldest and largest apple orchard. Over a century ago, the "Apple Train" ran a weekly route from Boston to the scenic hills of Applecrest Farm. For four generations the Wagner family has owned and operated Applecrest Farms, and today you can pick your own apples daily beginning in mid-August all the way through October. There are over 40 different apple varieties growing on 220 acres of land. Stop by The Farm Market for hand-pressed apple cider and a variety of gourmet food gifts. On a hot fall afternoon, you can indulge in handmade New England ice cream at The Creamery, which overlooks the orchards.

2. Honey Pot Hill Orchards, Stow, Massachusetts

Just over an hour from Boston lies the quaint fall haven that is Honey Pot Hill Orchards. Pick-your-own-apples are available daily August through October. Fall farm activities include three different mazes, a classic hayride through the orchards, and farm animals. Extend the fall fun by picking up a gallon of fresh-pressed cider or apple baked goods from the Farm Store. And check out the Hard Cider Tent, opening for the first time in 2019!

3. Mack's Apples, Londonderry, New Hampshire

This eighth generation family-run farm is full of New Hampshire hospitality. Moose Hill Orchards, home of Mack's Apples, is the oldest single family run farm in New Hampshire. The farm is open daily for U-Pick apples beginning in September and ending in early November. Stop by the Farm Stand for fresh fruits and vegetables along with locally produced goodies like milk, eggs, jams, and baked goods.

4. Shelburne Orchards, Shelburne, Vermont

Pick your own apples at Shelburne Orchards starting in late August through late October. This family-run farm has been growing farm fresh apples since the 1950s, with over 6,000 apple trees on the farm today. Be sure to pay a visit to the brandy tasting room to get a taste of their 7-year-old cask-aged apple brandy. Complete your visit to Shelburne Orchards with a hay ride, an apple cider donut or two, and some fresh pressed apple cider. They even sell apple trees on the farm — leave with your very own!

5. Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts

Open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for apple picking, this Massachusetts orchard is located about 90 minutes from Boston. After apple picking, enjoy homemade baked goods and ice cream at the Tougas Farm Kitchen. Kids will love checking out the animals at the barnyard and playing on the playground. Get a true New England experience with this family-friendly weekend getaway.

6. Libby & Son U-Picks, Limberick, Maine

Apple picking is a Maine tradition, and this U-Pick orchard is the perfect place to get in on the fun. Libby & Son U-Picks is open Tuesday through Sunday for apple picking running all the way from mid-August to November. This multi-generational family farm offers weekend entertainment including live music and kid-friendly activities. Don't leave without a fresh fruit smoothie or some hot kettle corn. There's more than enough fall fun to be had.

Best Apple Picking in the Mid-Atlantic

Apple picking is synonymous with fall in the Mid-Atlantic region, home to some of the biggest apple producing states like New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. New York is actually the second-largest apple-producing state, behind Washington. Droves of people flock from The Big Apple on weekends to enjoy slower-paced, country living at the orchard... and to get the perfect fall photo. Discover some of the best orchards the region has to offer.

Photo by Homestead Farms

1. Fishkill Farms, Hopewell Junction, New York

Located just under two hours north of New York City, this apple orchard has close ties to American history. Founded in 1913, Henry Morgenthau Jr. opened Fishkill Farms after studying agriculture at Cornell University. As a close friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Morgenthau Jr. was appointed Chairman of the Farm Credit Administration, which helped to save family farms from foreclosure. He then went on to serve as Secretary of the Treasury through the remainder of Roosevelt's presidency. FDR made frequent visits to the farms, sometimes bringing with him famous guests, like Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The farms have been owned and operated by the Morgenthau family for over 100 years.

Pick-your-own-apples are available throughout September and October. Make a trip to the farm store for home-grown seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as cider donuts and coffee made daily. The cider garden is also open through October, where you can taste hard cider with a view of the orchards.

2. Terhune Orchards, Princeton, New Jersey

This New Jersey orchard is owned and operated by the Mount Family, the 10th generation of farmers in central New Jersey. Apple picking is available in September and October, along with farm activities for kids of all ages. Check out Terhune Orchard Vineyard and Winery for award-winning wine available throughout the year. And be sure to make a stop at the Farm Store for homegrown produce as well as baked goods (apple cider donuts!), homemade desserts, jams, and jellies.

3. Carter Mountain Orchard, Charlottesville, Virginia

Pick-your-own apples are available from late August through November at Carter Mountain Orchard. For over a century, the Chiles Family has been tending to its orchards with care and bringing its fresh produce to central Virginia. And a visit to Carter Mountain Orchard is not complete without a stop at the Country Store where you can buy local goods to remember your trip by. Give one of their award-winning apple cider donuts a try! Enjoy farm-to-table outdoor dining at The Mountain Grill (where you can grab a Bold Rock hard cider made from Carter Mountain apples) or get a taste of Virginia's wine scene at the Carter Mountain Vineyard.

4. Larriland Farm, Woodbine, Maryland

Just a short trip from Baltimore and Washington D.C., Larriland Farm is open for pick-your-own apples September through early November, every day except Mondays. Be sure to check their website for daily updates on apple picking. The pick your own farm has been owned and operated by the Moore Family since 1973. Kids will enjoy weekend hayrides, the Straw Maze, and the Boo Barn. Don't leave without having an apple fritter, available only on the weekends.

5. Homestead Farm, Poolesville, Maryland

Homestead Farms is conveniently located just over an hour from Baltimore and Washington D.C. Pick-your-own apples are available seven days a week in September and October, weather permitting. Enjoy a weekend scenic hayride, complimentary with farm admission beginning in late September. Stroll through the market on your way out for homegrown produce and local goodies.

6. Solebury Orchards, New Hope, Pennsylvania

Nestled between New York and Philadelphia in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania lies 80 acres of farm known as Solebury Orchards. Pick-your-own is available mid-August through early November. The Solebury Orchard market has pre-picked apples, as well as fresh-pressed cider, cider donuts, and cider slushies.

7. Stribling Orchard, Markham, Virginia

Stribling Orchard has apple trees dating all the way back to the 1930s, with over 2,500 apple trees residing on the orchard today. They're open Tuesdays through Sundays for the 2019 apple picking season. Visit on a weekend for baked goods at the Harvest House Bakery, live music, and wine tasting. The 200th Year Anniversary Celebration will be taking place Saturday, Oct. 5th. The celebration will include kids activities, family photography sessions, and giveaways.

Best Apple Picking in the Southeast

There is a widely held misconception that apples don't grow in the Southeast, since it is believed that it doesn't get cold enough or stay cold long enough. But in fact, there are quite a number of apple varieties that do well here, and with that comes apple orchards and festivals that Southerners flock to at the first sight of fall. Read on to learn the best the region has to offer.

1. Mercier Orchards, Blue Ridge, Georgia

In the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the 300-acre Mercier Orchards have been owned and operated by the Mercier family since 1943. As one of Georgia's top tourism attractions, it's a must-see during the fall months. U-Pick apples are available on Saturdays and Sundays from August through October. Enjoy breakfast or lunch at the on-site cafe, and spend the afternoon tasting hard-pressed beverages in the Tasting Room. Mercier is the only orchard in Georgia that grows, presses, ferments, and bottles their own products. Located two hours north of Atlanta, it's the ideal mountain getaway.

2. Sky Top Orchard, Flat Rock, North Carolina

U-Pick apples run at Sky Top Orchards through the end of October. Located atop Mt. McAlpine, you have a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. The North Carolina warm days and cool nights make for the ideal conditions for more than 22 apple varieties grown at the orchard. The kids will surely want to check out the hay rides, train rides, animal area, and playground. And of course most folks will want to leave with fresh apple cider, cider slushies, and apple cider doughnuts.

3. Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard, Hendersonville, North Carolina

The Stepp Family has been working their 70-acre farm and apple orchard for nearly 50 years. Perched on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina, Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard is just a short drive from Asheville. Pick your own apples are available seven days a week through October. There is plenty of family fun to be had, from getting lost in the corn maze to testing your aim at the apple cannon. Stop by the Country Market for apple cider, apple slushies, and freshly baked treats. Pack your own lunch and enjoy a picnic with a view of the orchard.

4. B.J. Reece Orchards, Ellijay, Georgia

Considered the apple capital of Georgia, Ellijay is home to a number of orchards consistently rated among the top tourism spots in the state. Family owned and operated and tucked in the North Georgia mountains, B.J. Reece Orchards offers U-Pick apples seven days a week through October. Browse the market and bakery — you can't leave without trying one of their world famous fried pies. Farm fun activities are available every weekend through Oct. 27th.

5. Reed Valley Orchard, Paris, Kentucky

This serene orchard is located just 30 minutes from Lexington, and offers a scenic view of the Kentucky countryside. Dana and Trudie Reed planted the first trees here in 1988, and today have over 3,000 apple trees on their property. The orchard is open four days a week starting in mid June and going through early December, with pick your own apples available when weather permits. Partake in the Country Harvest Trail Day every Saturday in October to pick your own fruit and listen to local musicians while you indulge in fresh apple treats.

Best Apple Picking in the Southwest

Finding apple orchards in the hot and dry climate of the Southwest can be somewhat challenging. Many popular apple varieties require long winters for the fruit to be viable. But growers in the Southwest are able to grow varieties that require shorter "chilling periods," and can withstand the hot summers. Here are some of the best orchards to visit if you live in this region:

Photo by Apple Annie's Orchard

1. Apple Annie's Orchard, Wilcox, Arizona

Just over an hour from the dry, desert climate of Tucson, Apple Annie's farming operation is located at 4300' elevation in the Sulphur Springs Valley. The valley provides warm days and cool nights, making it a premier location for apple growing in Arizona. This family-run farm has been in operation since the early 1980s. Visit the fruit orchard for you-pick apples open daily starting in August and heading through late October. Stop by the country store on your way out to browse Apple Annie's selection of homemade pies, butters, jams, and jellies.

2. Livesay Orchards, Porter, Oklahoma

Livesay Orchards is known for its peaches (it's located in the peach capital of the state), but pick-your-own apples are available beginning in late August and going through early October. The orchard is just a short drive from Tulsa, and every weekend in October is packed with fall family activities. Owned and operated by the Livesay family, the first peach trees were planted in the 1920s, with apples, watermelons, cantaloupes, and a variety of other fruits coming to the farm later. A trip is not complete without a visit to the Livesay Orchards Farm Market for locally-grown produce and Porter peach products.

3. Sonlight Apple Orchard, Mason, Texas

An easy weekend trip from Austin, San Antonio, or San Angelo, Sonlight Apple Orchard proves that you can indeed grow apples in Texas. The orchard started as a test plot to gather information for growers in Washington and Oregon, and later opened to the public around 1989. Pick-your-own apples are available two Saturdays in October, so be sure to get to the orchard then. For an extended stay, guests can visit the Apple Cottage Bed and Breakfast that's within walking distance of the orchard. Kids and adults alike can get a hands on experience at the antique cider press or apple bobbing station.

Advertisement