I have been apple picking one time during my 41 years on this planet and it was a LONG time ago. I remember it fondly – the smells, the crisp air, the beautiful photo opportunities, and of course, the delicious apples. I am excited that apple picking season is here and I have made it a fall bucket list item to visit an orchard this year.
Here are some things you may not know about apple orchards –
Did you know that most pick your own farms grow dwarf trees?
That’s correct. You’ll be able to comfortably reach for the apples without climbing a single tree. Apples ripen from the outside of the tree to the inside, and most are within reach for a preschooler.
Did you know that farmers love to share their knowledge?
Unsure which variety is best for your tasting or cooking plans? Farmers and their staff will tell you. Don’t know which color shading is indicative of ripeness? Ask the farmer before you begin!
Did you know that picking and caring for fruit is a multi-disciplinary lesson for your child?
Think of all the things to learn while walking down those rows of apple trees. What color should we pick? Gentle, now. Grab the apple and turn it slowly. Did the stem come off with it? Oh, good – it should stay ripe longer! Why? Hmmm … I’m not sure. Let’s ask the farmer! Don’t drop it in your basket. We don’t want to bruise it. Is your basket getting heavy? How many apples have you picked? I wonder if we can weigh them? How much will these costs? Is this enough to make a pie? We’ll need to keep these in a cool place when we get home – where do you suggest? Read some books about apples before you go and reinforce what you learned at the orchard. Some good ones to check out are Apples by Gail Gibbons, Apple by Dan Oldfield, and Ten Apples Up On Top! by Theo LeSieg.
Did you know that most pick-your-own farms have additional activities?
Pack some snacks or a picnic lunch. Some places will have cider and other apple products to sell. Check your farm’s website. There may be a petting zoo. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to let them get lost in a supervised corn maze while you do a cider tasting … yes, apple picking is going to be fun for both children and adults.
Below are several u-pick apple orchards in the SC and NC area – perfect for a day trip or weekend out of town with the family!
1011 Chattooga Ridge Rd.
Mountain Rest, SC 29664
If you’re looking for a full day or weekend apple adventure, then consider Bryson’s. They press their own cider and have free samples. This orchard has a wide selection of jams and jellies, canned goods, honey from bees, sorgum syrup and local vegetables when in season. Bryson’s is located in the beautiful Long Creek area of the Blue Ridge Mountains, three miles from the Chattooga River, fifteen miles from Oconee State Park, and six miles from Chau Ram State Park. Lakes Keowee, Jocassee,and Hartwell, along with over twenty waterfalls, and many marked hiking trails are just a few of the surrounding area attractions.
454 Damascus Church Road
Long Creek, SC 29658
The farm has a variety produce through-out the seasons including apples and peach orchards, muscadines, scuppernongs, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. They have a variety of exotic fruits like persimmons, paw paws, Asian pears, figs, and more! In addition, they offer cabins for rent and have a bistro, as well as farm tours, a disc golf course, and a distillery. It’s also a wedding venue, so call ahead.
187 Garren Rd.
Hendersonville NC 28792
Enjoy a day in the country with your family, picking apples from dwarf-size apple trees, bring your lunch and enjoy eating it in the picnic area while you take in the beautiful views surrounding the apple orchard. Justus Orchard offers apple orchard tours for families, church groups and other groups. There is also a bakery with apple cider, pies, and doughnuts!
1025 Orchard Rd
Spruce Pine, NC 28777
There are over 40 apple varieties at The Orchard at Altapass. You can make a weekend of this trip. There is a restaurant that serves lunch daily and many local restaurants nearby. They offer hayrides, hiking trails, it’s pet friendly and there’s even a book club! Check out the events calendar before you go. There is often live music!
1193 Pinnacle Mountain Rd
Zirconia, NC 28731 (Flat Rock area, NC)
Visit Sky Top Orchard and you’ll enjoy panoramic mountain views, orchard ponds with ducks and geese, a ‘barnyard’ area with sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys and more, a bamboo forest to explore, lots of picnic areas and, of course, a mountaintop of fragrant apple and fruit trees. This favorite among families in the Midlands also offers hayrides (without the hay in the truck, to help your allergies) and apple doughnuts. Click this link to plan your visit and view their downloadable map to see all they have to offer. If you can, plan your visit for a weekday. Sky Top can get very crowed on the weekends.
2951 Chimney Rock Road
Hendersonville, NC 28792
With more than 100 acres, there’s plenty to do on this family friendly farm! Enjoy picking apples right from the source or grabbing your favorites in pre-selected bins. Take a stroll through their country store to enjoy fall décor, apple gifts, apple bread, apple turnovers and more! And there is plenty of fun for the kids … a cow train, jump pillow, apple cannon and corn maze. They also have a seasonal pumpkin patch, so it’s worth a visit outside of apple season too!
170 Stepp Orchard Drive
Hendersonville, NC 28792
Enjoy a day on this 70-acre working farm and apple orchard on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina just outside Historic Hendersonville, near Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Hillcrest Orchard was Hendersonville and Henderson County’s First Pick-Your-Own Apple Orchard. There are hay rides, a corn maze, and even an apple cannon!
1860 Black Hwy
York, SC 29745
Windy Hill Orchard is a family owned and operated boutique apple orchard and Hard Cider producer located in the upstate of South Carolina. Open every fall from mid-August until Christmas, they offer visitors, Award Winning Hard Ciders, Pick Your Own Apples, Fresh Pressed Apple Cider, Fresh Made Apple Products, and much, much more. Their cats are friendly and you should check their calendar for events, including live music.