Before the ghoulish insanity of Halloween sets in, spend a day with your family in the country, and go apple picking! Not only is it the perfect activity to get everyone outside, breathing the fresh fall air, but it also comes with a tasty takeaway–hello, apple cider/fritters/jelly/pie/donuts. These u-pick farms have rows and rows of apple trees (especially during the months of September and October), plus other fun things to get into like train rides and corn mazes. Happy picking!
This fam-favorite hosts “U-Pick Apple Adventures” now through the end of October. The exploration begins with a free wagon ride into the orchards where you and your crew are given as many picking bags as you can carry. This orchard gets high marks in the convenience category—credit card payments for the apples are accepted in the orchard and all of the trees are dwarf trees with fruit that is reachable for the toddler set from the ground. P.S. Grab a few of their amazing apple cider donuts for the drive home.
1495 Appleton Rd. (Elkton, Md)
If apple cider is your jam, this is where you’ll want to lay your basket. The cider mill at this farm is the oldest in continuous use in Maryland, which means they know what they’re doing. The fresh pressed cider is available everyday through December.
2526 Proctor Lane (Parkville, Md)
Mackintosh Fruit Farm
Mackintosh Fruit Farm is a family owned farm huddled in the stunning Northern Shenandoah Valley. There’s no fee to pick the apples as they want the experience to be affordable for all families. Varieties include Gala, Ginger Gold, and Fuji. They sell lunch on the farm and even have breakfast specials on weekends. Got a sweet tooth? The farm sells caramel apples, apple cider floats, apple caramel sundaes, baked apples, pies, donuts, and more! Their Apple Butter Day is on October 7th and they even organize a 10K run so you can burn off some calories from everything you’ll be eating!
1608 Russell Rd. (Berryville, Va)
Photo: Charles Dawley via Flickr
Catocin Mountain Orchard
You’ll likely smell this charming orchard before you see it. That’s because in addition to offering a host of apple varieties (including cortland, empire and cameo), Catocin whips up fresh apple cider, pies, and jam in it’s on site kitchen and bakery. Hello! Sounds like a winner for “best teacher in the world” holiday gifts.
15036 N. Franklinville Rd. (Thurmont, Md)
Counting chemicals? This nearly-organic farm sprays its apples with pesticides only as a last resort. Instead, they use other tactics like crop rotation and water management to keep buggy-boos at bay. Other than their eco-conscious efforts, Larriland also offers more than 15 different types of u-pick apples, a barn store with already-plucked fruits and veggies (and kettle corn) and pre- or post-picking hayrides.
2415 Woodbine Rd. (Woodbine, Md)
Baugher’s Orchard has been a family owned, working fruit and vegetable farm since 1904. It started out as a 60 acre piece of land and has expanded to become a 600 acre operation, and one of the largest orchards in Maryland. Enjoy a wagon ride to the orchard and pick from apple trees on a picturesque Carroll County hillside. Kids can run around at the playground and even explore the Petting Zoo. Ice cream is sold in the market which is a great way to cap the day!
1015 Baugher Rd. (Westminster, Md)
Sure, this farm boasts a whopping 325 acres of apples. But, what really impresses the kid set is the cow train (it’s exactly what it sounds like—a cow-shaped train); old time-y wagon rides; and Kiddie Land, an irresistible playground complete with a large wooden ship, tractor and wagon. Apples? What apples?
3035 Cedar Creek Grade (Winchester, Va)
Don’t know your Ginger Golds from your Granny Smiths? Can’t tell what’s ripe or not? No problem! This is a teaching farm, so just ask and you shall receive. Their website also lists a ton of apple-based recipes (the Apple Crisp is a must-try!). Side note: You can leave the flimsy grocery store bags at home—Homestead hooks you up with heavy duty totes to collect your crop.
15604 Sugarland Rd. (Poolesville, Md)
Located near the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hartland is a deep-rooted, family-owned working farm and orchard. Take a relaxing drive and spend the day in the scenic country side. Hartland takes pride in offering the freshest, juiciest apples possible. Containers and bags can be found upon entering the orchard, where you can spend a few hours in a stunning country setting picking a variety of apple types from Braeburns to Nittanys.
3064 Hartland La. (Markham, Va)
Great Country Farms
Apples are Great Country Farms’ thang! Apple picking is like a competitive sport to these folks so get ready to roll up your sleeves at CGF and get to work! Not only do they have apple picking, but there is also apple cider pressing, apple wine tastings and apple butter that you can buy. Their orchard is bursting with lovely apples and they have several varieties such as Gala, Jona Gold, Jona Free, Candy Crisp, Ruby Jon and Fuji ready for picking through the fall. The farm offers free wagon rides that take you to the orchard. Don’t forget to stop by the farm market for some hot cider donuts.
18780 Foggy Bottom Rd. (Bluemont, Va)
Carter Mountain Orchard
This scenic farm is a couple of hours away from D.C., but it’s worth the drive. Expect pumpkins, hayrides, a winery, and apples…lots and lots of apples. Still on the fence? he apple cider donuts alone are worth the trip.
1435 Carters Mountain Trail (Charlottesville, Va 22901)
Rock Hill Orchard
Rock Hill has several thousand apple trees in their orchard! From Blondee’s to Macoun’s this is your go-to apple picking place. Your family is guaranteed to have an authentic farm experience here. Rock Hill Orchard is located in the Agricultural Reserve in Northern Montgomery County and is midway between Damascus and Mount Airy. The orchard has an ice cream themed corn maze this year! And speaking of ice cream, Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard is Montgomery County’s only made on the farm ice cream. If apples and ice cream aren’t enough for you, Rock Hill even has cut your own herbs! A definite must check out!
28600 Ridge Rd. (Mount Airy, Md)
Where does your family go apple picking around D.C.? Tell us in the comments below.
—Guiomar Ochoa and Ayren Jackson-Cannady