The Apple (Orchards) of Our Eye
It's the most wonderful time of the year: apple picking time! There are few things we love more than spending a brisk fall weekend roaming through row after row of fragrant apple trees and stealing bites of tart, crisp, juicy, fresh apples. But besides the fresh produce, we love a good apple orchard with other things to offer, such as hay rides, Halloween specials and, oh yeah, FOOD! So whether you're living on the east coast or west, or somewhere in the middle, there's an apple orchard for all your fall fixes. Here are some of our favorites:
Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards, LaFayette, NY
Now in its fifth generation of family-run business, Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards is a local favorite and the only place in the region where you can buy flash-pasteurized apple cider. Each one of their 250,000 trees is maintained with excellent care, and they also bring in over 400 hives of bees in the spring to help pollinate their crop. The orchard grows over 15 varieties of apples, make their cider on-site, and distill a variety of spirits and hard cider from the apples. Besides the wide variety of apples, our favorite part about Beak & Skiff is the Apple Hill Country Store and Bake Shop, where you can pick up anything from cider doughnuts, to apple pie, to local NY cheddar cheese and bread mix, and you can view fresh cider being made!
Richard's Fruit Market, Middletown, VA
Residing on a family farm 90 miles outside of the nation's capital, Richard's Fruit Market is the oldest "country classic" open air farmers market, offering a multitude of fresh products. Beyond apples, you can pick up a variety of fresh, seasonal fruits, vegetables, flowers, baked desserts and even beef. You can expect around 5 types of apples available at any time during the season, but the varieties are always changing. Our favorite part about Richard's Fruit Market is their annual festivals! Each year, the market hosts three festivals dedicated to seasonal produce: a peach festival in August, an apple festival in October and a Virginia state gourd festival in November. What could be better than a whole day dedicated to our favorite fruit of the fall?!
Patterson Fruit Farm, Chesterland, OH
Open year round and fully stocked with seasonal products, it's a no-brainer why Clevelanders love Patterson Fruit Farm. You can pick your own strawberries in June and apples from August to October, and the farm also specializes in cherries, peaches and maple syrup. Aside from all the delicious produce and pastries you can find 365 days a year, our favorite part about Patterson Fruit Farms are their hay rides! Take a ride through the fields and end up in a private barn or sugar house, where you can enjoy barbecue, s'mores and anything else you'd like to bring.
Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard, Jordan, MN
Wagon rides! Bon fires! Weddings, oh my! Minnesota Harvest has it all. The picking season begins with an Annual Appletennial Fall Festival, and the apple varieties change weekly. In the height of the season, you will be overcome with more apples than you could ever imagine, as well as pumpkins and strawberries. Wagon rides and bon fires are available through December, so you have the perfect excuse to wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket, grab some hot chocolate and spend a winter night in the country. Our favorite part about Minnesota Harvest is their brand new orchard product: Apfelwein cider!
Huber's Orchard, Winery & Vineyard, Starlight, IN
From a humble 80-acre beginning in 1843, to today's over 600 acres of fruits, vegetables, grapes, Christmas trees and pumpkins, Huber's Orchard is definitely one of the most diverse. The orchard is famous for their fall season and variety of delicious apples, but is also Indiana's largest wine grape producer, with 18 different varieties and nearly 400,000 pounds produced in a single year. Besides the farmland, Huber's offers a farm market, cheese shoppe, ice cream factory, winery, gift shoppe, banquet facility and Indiana's first distillery- The Starlight Distillery. With so much to choose from, it was hard to pick, but our favorite part about Huber's Orchard is the bakery, where you can smell the enticing aromas of everything from fruit breads and cheese breads to pies, cookies, doughnuts and everything in between!