The Best Places to Go Apple Picking in the U.S. (And Where to Stay)
Cliché though it may be, there’s a reason people love apple picking. It’s one of those simple, seasonal pleasures that lets you slow down, get outside, and appreciate nature’s bounty—not to mention all the indulgent goodies that come out of it (apple pie, apple fritters, apple cider donuts...) From the Green Mountains of Vermont to the orchards of California, we found nine escapes across the U.S. where you can partake in autumn’s most quintessential activity.
With its rolling hills, verdant mountain peaks, and trees aglow with red, yellow, and orange leaves, Vermont embodies everything that’s great about fall. You’ll find plenty of apple orchards throughout the state, but there are a few standouts. The most famous one, perhaps, is Scott Farm Orchard in Dummerston, which has been cultivating apples since 1791 and was the filming location for the 1999 drama The Cider House Rules. At 125 acres, Green Mountain Orchards in nearby Putney is one of Vermont's largest and lets you pick your own pumpkins, blueberries, and apples—which they use in their famous apple cider donuts. Make a weekend of it and stay at the charming Woodstock Inn & Resort (it recently completed a $16 million renovation) or at Twin Farms, an all-inclusive Relais & Châteaux resort set on 300 woodland acres.
Hudson Valley & Catskills, New York
On beautiful fall weekends, many New Yorkers flee the city and head upstate. Spend time communing with nature without sacrificing the comforts of home by booking one of the luxury tents at Collective Hudson Valley, a glamping site located on Liberty Farms in bucolic Hudson Valley where you can go apple picking on site. Alternatively, head west into the Catskills, an area once known as the Borscht Belt that's now undergoing a renaissance thanks to entrepreneurs like Sims and Kirsten Foster, who've collectively opened some of the area's most stylish stays—including the Arnold House, North Branch Inn, Nine River Road, and the DeBruce. You can go apple picking at Stone Ridge Orchard, whose sustainably-grown gourmet apple and pear varieties are sold at farmer’s markets all across the state.
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If you thought Colorado was all about skiing and hiking, think again. In the fall, you can enjoy the crisp mountain air and go apple picking at orchards like the intimate Ya Ya Farm & Orchard, a popular wedding venue that's home to over a thousand apple, pear, and cherry trees and requires reservations for its "U-Pick It" sessions (due to their limited quantities). Boulder is technically the closest city to Longmont (in which case, we'd stay at Basecamp), but you might want to go the extra mile to stay at the new Ramble Hotel in Denver, which opened this spring and is attracting a lot buzz for being the first outpost of cocktail emporium Death & Company outside New York.
Beyond Lake Michigan, there are plenty of beautiful landscapes where Chicagoans can go to take a breather from the city. Hobart, Indiana (about an hour outside of Chi-town) is home to the scenic County Line Orchard, where you can pick apples, pumpkins, and sunflowers in between fun at the corn maze, kid's farm, and their very own bee hives. Otherwise, continue east into Michigan to pick apples (or peaches, or grapes) at family-run Shafer Farm, which is open August through October. Visiting from out of town? The sleek Viceroy Chicago, which opened last year, is a great place to stay during the autumn months thanks to its cool rooftop bar that boasts views of Lake Michigan.
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North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains explode into a riot of colors come fall, and the best way to take it all in is during a drive down the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard, set at the crest of the mountains near Asheville, is home to a five-acre corn maze in addition to 21 apple varieties and has been run by the Stepp family for fifty years. Afterwards, check into Asheville’s new Foundry Hotel, which just opened in the city’s historic steel foundry with an upscale restaurant by John Fleer, formerly of Tennessee’s famed Blackberry Farm.
Portland restaurants are obsessed about sourcing ingredients locally, so you can bet they support Oregon’s farms. Just 60 miles east of the city, Hood River Valley is known for its excellent orchards including the Hood River County Fruit Loop and the family-run Kiyokawa Family Orchards, which is beloved for its many apple varieties (including Mountain Fuji and Mutsu), Asian pears, and gorgeous views of snow-capped Mount Hood. Book a room at the Sentinel, a charming boutique hotel in Portland with a Pacific Northwest-inspired design (think plaid blankets and owl motifs in guest rooms), before making the day trip. During the two-and-a-half-hour drive out, it's worth stopping at Multnomah Falls, one of America's most beautiful waterfalls.
Autumn is one of the most magical seasons in western Massachusetts, especially in the Pioneer Valley and the scenic Berkshire Mountains, where you’ll find the highest peaks in the state. Students from the Pioneer Valley’s five colleges flock to the low-key town of Shelburne Falls, where you can go apple picking at Apex Orchards and hang out at the Montague Bookmill—an atmospheric bookstore built inside a 1847 mill on the banks of a river. This fall, the coolest new place to stay is TOURISTS, a renovated motor lodge turned boutique hotel that's drawing creative types.
Washington D.C. Area
When Washingtonians want to escape their city, they head to Virginia or Maryland for more rural pursuits. A favorite place to go apple and pumpkin picking is Butler’s Orchard in Maryland, where you can pick your own produce or shop at the farm market for fresh seasonal jams, pies, and local honey. After stocking up on all your fall essentials, it's worth heading back to town and staying at the hip new LINE Hotel DC, which opened last year in a repurposed church.
Coastal California is blessed with some of the most fertile land in the country, so it’s no wonder you can find great places to go apple picking. Between San Francisco and the Central Coast, in the tiny beach town of Watsonville, Gizdich Ranch is a small independent farm that allows you to pick your own apples and berries. They also have a pie shop where they sell nine varieties (Pumpkin and Dutch Apple are seasonal favorites) in addition to apple dumplings, puff pastries, and popsicles. The spot is worth a detour—especially if you’re planning a road trip along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. City lovers, stay at the gorgeous new Proper Hotel in San Francisco; nature types will find more of what they're looking for at Ventana Big Sur, which overlooks the Pacific.
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