As summer winds down and fall approaches, one favorite family activity is going to pick apples at an orchard.
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 cost? 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 Dawn 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 areas. However, be sure to check their website and social media pages before you plan your trip to obtain the most current information.
1011 Chattooga Ridge Rd.
Mountain Rest, SC 29664
Monday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
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, sorghum syrup, and local vegetables when in season. The U-Pick apple sales open on July 28 through the middle of October.
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
Monday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The farm has a variety of produce throughout 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 a distillery. It’s also a wedding venue, so check their event calendar ahead of time as some areas of the farm may be restricted during these times.
187 Garren Road
Hendersonville NC 28792
Monday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m
Enjoy a day in the country with your family, picking apples from dwarf-size apple trees. The orchard is open seven days a week through early November with all of their usual fruits, goodies, pumpkins, and plenty of delicious apples as the varieties ripen.
While visiting Justus Orchard don’t forget to stop by the Apple House Bakery for some of their famous apple pies using apples picked from the farm! You can also enjoy cider slushies, apple cider donuts, and more! They also have a playground, cow train rides, jumping pillow, goats, pond with ducks, and apple cannon!
1025 Orchard Rd
Spruce Pine, NC 28777
Wednesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Open now through October 30, 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)
Open 7 days a week, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
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, gem mine, 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. If you can, plan your visit for a weekday. Sky Top can get very crowded on the weekends.
2951 Chimney Rock Road
Hendersonville, NC 28792
Open 7 days a week, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Visit Grandad’s for the day and enjoy a variety of family fun activities on a 100-acre family farm and apple orchard located in Hendersonville NC near Asheville. Select pre-picked apples fresh off the trees daily from bins. At the market and bakery, you will find a great selection of fall harvest decorations, apple peelers, apple bakers, and other apple gifts. Come by the bakery where there are hot cider donuts all day along with apple pies, cookies, hot cider, apple cider slushies, and many other apple goodies to eat!
170 Stepp Orchard Drive
Hendersonville, NC 28792
Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
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 hayrides, a corn maze, and even an apple cannon! Bring your lunch and enjoy a picnic beside the orchard. Official open date for 2023 is August 18 through the end of October.
1860 Black Hwy
York, SC 29745
Thursday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
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. Check out their calendar for events, including live music. Official open date for 2023 is August 17 and all other Hours and Activities remain as scheduled through December
Have you gone apple picking? Where did you go and what did you love about it?