Plan a Weekend Trip to Visit One of These Beautiful Apple Orchards

Pumpkin spice is nice, but before Starbucks ruled the land, fall was flavored with freshly-picked apples, spiced donuts, and hot apple cider. What better way to enjoy the tastes of the season, than with a trip to an apple orchard, surrounded by crisp October weather and beautiful fall colors? The farms below are not only some of the loveliest places to visit in the fall, but offer some of the best tasting apples around. Choose one (or more!) and plan a fall weekend getaway to one of these quaint communities during their peak apple harvest.

Green apples hang from branches by Thomas Kelley – Unsplash

Champlain Orchards not only offers an incredible diverse variety of fresh fruit and apples, but it also a responsibly managed operation. The farm is almost entirely solar-powered, and all fruit is certified ecologically-grown or certified organic. In addition to apples, visitors can pick their own raspberries, pears, currants, cherries, peaches, and plums when in season. Also on site, is the Cider Garden, featuring locally-sourced food and beverages, as well as activities like lawn and board games, and even family-friendly movie nights on select Friday evenings.

This fourth-generation orchard features a farm market, bakery, and pick-your-own fruit nestled in the rolling hills of New England. The season begins early with strawberries and sweet cherries, and continues through fall until the holidays with pre-cut Christmas trees. Pies, apple fritters, donuts, jams and jellies, cookies, and other delectable goods are available for purchase.

Two people carry a basket of apples by Ryan Arnst – Unsplash

Weekends in October are best spent at the Graves Mountain Apple Harvest Festival in the picturesque countryside of Virginia. Each year, the festival features celebrates the local apple harvest with food and drinks, and hosts several arts and craft vendors. Apples can be purchased pre-picked, or visitors can pick their own (until the trees are bare). Live music, a petting zoo, hayrides, a hay maze, and pony rides are just some of the fun activities offered at the annual celebration. Guests can even stay on site at the Graves Mountain Lodge, cabins, or campsites.

A handful of apples by Natalie Grainger – Unsplash

Kapnick Orchards has a great variety of apples to pick: from MacIntosh, Empire, and Red Delicious that are ripe in the early half of the season, to Granny Smith and Fuji ready in later October. The orchard also has their own bakery and cider mill on site, and an expansive product line that includes many other fruits and vegetables, homemade fudge, apple butter, jams, candies, and nuts. In addition to apples, the farm offers pumpkin picking and wagon rides through the Enchanted Forest. The annual apple festival is scheduled for October 14th and 15th this year, and features more vendors and entertainment.

Guests can pick apples and more—including pumpkins and sunflowers—at Red Apple Farm. After picking, head over to the Brew Barn and BBQ Kitchen, open daily and serving up cider, craft brews, country barbecue, and brick-oven pizza and hosting live music and trivia nights. The farm also features giant pumpkins and an annual Thanksgiving Harvest Festival in November.

Crates of freshly picked apples in an orchard by Terra Slaybaugh – Unsplash

This year’s festival in Ellijay, Georgia takes place October 14th, 15th, 21st, and 22nd. The event, now in its 52nd year, hosts hundreds of vendors with handmade, hand-crafted items, on-site demonstrations, live music, and delicious fair food. While the festival is not held at an orchard—it is held at the Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds—the area is surrounded by several local apple operations. Gilmer County is known as the “apple capital” of the state, so if you really want to get some picking in, check out this list of orchards to visit. In addition to the festival, the Apple Arts Festival in downtown Ellijay is held on the same weekends, and the apple parade takes place on October 14th.

One of the most beautiful farms in New England, Gould Hill grows over 100 varieties of apples. You-pick season typically is over by mid-October, but even when the apples run out, guests can enjoy items from the bakery and store (plus, they grow much more than just apples!). Be sure to pick up cider donuts and some local ice cream while you’re there.

Apples on the ground by Ana Essentiels – Unsplash

This six-generation family farm in Maine grows a variety of fresh seasonal fruits and specializes in heirloom apples. Pick-your-own apples are available daily (while the trees have them), or visitors can grab a bag pre-picked in the store along with a jug of fresh cider.

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