Long summer days may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean you have to say good-bye to outdoor adventure. Whether you’re taking the whole family on a day trip or a special someone on an impromptu date, apple-picking can provide bushels of fun for kids of all ages. We get to the core of this classic autumn ritual along with a pick of the crop.
Weston’s Antique Apples – New Berlin, WI
Get ready for an orchard experience like no other. This farm prides itself on heirloom apples, varieties that are no longer grown anywhere else on Earth. Choose from over 100 varieties, some with quirky names like the honey-sweet Pitmaston Pineapple, the licorice-flavored Sops of Wine or the delicate Strawberry Chenango, which tastes like a rose.
If filling your basket with 10 kinds of fresh, juicy apples isn’t enough of a draw, maybe sipping apple wine from an award-winning winery will tip the scales. Applewood Orchards (left), just an hour and a half north of the real Big Apple, has everything you can imagine for a deliciously satisfying fall-filled day. Take a wagon ride, explore the pumpkin patch and stock up on homemade jellies.
Washington Apple Country Tours – Cashmere, WA
The Evergreen State produces more apples, from Golden Delicious to Pink Lady, than any other state and supplies over two-thirds of the fresh-eating apples in the country. So why limit yourself to one farm? Apple Country Tours dispatches trained guides to show you a wide range of orchards. Explore Wenatchee Valley, the Apple Capital of the World, with excursions covering any fall activity you can think of, from hay rides to sunset dinners and, of course, apple-picking.
Spend the day collecting Stayman Winesap apples on a family-owned, century-old orchard just over an hour and a half east of Los Angeles. Then turn your treasures into fresh cider in their old-fashioned cider press (right). No wonder they call it the Golden State.
Reece Apple House – Ellijay, GA
Georgia may be the Peach State, but Ellijay, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, is giving the fuzzy fruit a run for its money. Something about the cool mountain air gives this region’s apples their extraordinary flavor. Pick your own all week long and on weekends enjoy a petting zoo, free music and even shoot an apple cannon for some wacky family fun.
By Lauren Jerome
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Read more: Brought home a bushel and don’t know what to do with your haul? Try one of these 12 Best Apple Dishes from Across the U.S.