Although it’s not quite time to pull out your cozy sweaters and scarves just yet, it is time to plan your family’s annual outing to a nearby orchard to u-pick apples. Bring home fall’s best bounty to fill your kiddo’s lunchboxes or to bake sweet-smelling treats to share. Whatever reason you need a bushel or a peck, here’s where to find the best apple picking spots Boston (and its surrounding communities) has to offer.
Editor’s note: As things continue to evolve because of the Delta variant, please remember to follow local and state guidelines regarding masks, social distancing and other safety precautions when you visit these farms.
Belkin Family Lookout Farm—South Natick
This is the go-to spot for fruit picking of all kinds and is a great choice for first-timers or families with babies or toddlers. It's super close to Boston and has tons to offer families. Like last year, reservations keep the crowds at bay; be sure to book your time slot before you head over. Peaches are available for picking right now and so are the Earligold apples (look for more apple varieties in September). Plan to dine at the Lookout when you're there so the kids can ride the busy bee train (Tues.-Fri., 4-7 p.m.).
Good to know: Since the train isn't running this year, plan a (possible) 10-15 minute walk to a great picking spot. Strollers and wagons aren't recommended, so make sure your baby carrier is in the car.
89 Pleasant St.
South Natick, MA
Boston Hill Farm—North Andover
Pick your own apples at this farm that's open every day, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. No plan needed. Grab a red wagon before you head out in case one of the giant gourds is calling your name. Then get your fill of McIntosh, Cortland, Macoun, Ginger Gold, Paula Red and Red Delicious apples that are great for baking and snacking. Dogs are allowed on this farm, but they must be on a leash and can't join you in the Farm Stand.
Good to know: A modified Fall Festival is planned for 2021. Starting September 19 and running through October, families can pick their own apples and pumpkins while enjoying homemade apple cider donuts, live music, a petting zoo, ice cream and much more.
1370 Turnpike St.
North Andover, MA
Cider Hill Farm—Amsbury
Load up on all the fresh fruits of the season, not just apples, when you pick your own at this farm about an hour north of the city. You can get tickets in advance to pick or plan to walk in with the kids whenever the mood strikes (the farm is open for u-pick daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.). When you’ve filled your basket with ripe red apples, plan to play in the giant sandbox, ride trikes, swing or even take in a family program while you’re there. Plus, between the farm store and the food truck (there on the weekends) you can get your fill of mini donuts and cider that lets you know fall is really here.
45 Fern Ave.
If a visit with farm animals and a chance to sample flights of hard cider sound like the perfects pairings for your u-pick weekend, Hyland Orchard in Strubridge is where you want to be. More than 1,500 trees are on the property and you can find all kinds of delish varieties between them, like Mac, Mutsu, Gala, Granny Smith, and Braeburn. Use them to bake or stick them in your kiddos lunch—you can’t go wrong with these apples.
Good to know: Mark your calendars! The apple picking starts September 18, 2021 on the weekends.
199 Arnold Rd. (use 3 Lake Rd. for GPS)
Tougas Family Farm—Northborough
This farm is full of all of the late summer and fall favorites your family loves. Come to pick apples (they've got over 30 different varieties), peaches, blackberries and sunflowers that are in season right now. Everyone in your farm crew will love taking a wagon ride out the orchard and climbing on the farm-themed playground before heading home. The barn yard animals are another big win for kids. And the apple cider donuts will certainly hit the spot on the ride back to the city. Reservations aren't required to pick, but it's a good idea to check the Today's Picking Conditions page before you make the trek.
234 Ball St.
Fresh-pressed apple cider is the name of the game at this spot that's been farming for over 200 years. And when you come to pick your own, apples aren't the only thing you'll have access to. In addition to the August apples (think: Astrachan, Early Mac, Gravenstein, Jersey and Puritan to name a few), you can also pick sweet corn and mums. Then in September expect more apples, plus pumpkins. Our suggestion? Stock up on maple syrup and preserves while you are there and don't forget to return for Christmas trees in December.
98 North Main St.
The summer apple and peach picking season is underway at Brooksby. Families can check the Facebook page to get the latest picking updates, then load up the kids and head to the orchard to fill your buckets with those crisp apples you've been craving all summer. Summer apple picking is $10 per person and includes entrance to the orchard and your bag for picking too. Families can also blueberries and green beans when they're there and swing by the farm store for even more fresh goodies, plus cider and donuts.
54 Felton St.
Smolak Farms—North Andover
Smolak Farms in North Andover offers something fun for everyone—blending a 300-year-old New England Farm complete with orchards, berry fields and family activities. Meet the barnyard animals when you visit for apple picking. The farm stand is well known for its top-of-the-line baked goods as well as sandwiches, soups, salads and other items made with fresh produce from the gardens. The ice cream shop serves up scoops and cakes or pies for your next birthday celebration. Apple picking runs from September through mid-October. Check their Facebook page for the latest updates.
Good to know: Peaches, plums, blueberries and sunflowers are available for picking in August.
15 South Bradford St.
North Andover, MA
Mark your calendars for September 4, 2021, the start of u-pick apple season at Connors Farm that's just north of the city. It's the same day the Barnyard Friends corn maze opens so you won't want to miss it. The themed play areas will also be open so plan to spend some time on this farm. Psst... if you've got older kids, pick apples in the late afternoon then stay for the flashlight corn maze that runs weekends starting September 24.
Good to know: U-pick peaches are available right now.
30 Valley Road (Rt. 35)
Pick-your-own season starts August 28 when the farm will be open for the season. You can get fresh apples and peaches off the trees and warm apple cider doughnuts to take home (if they last that long). Kids will love the llamas, goats, miniature donkeys, chicks and bunnies on the farm as well as the tractor playground. Don't forget to check out the StoryWalk when you visit.
106 W Acton Rd.
Westward Orchards Farm Store—Harvard
This smaller farm offers a quaint apple picking scene without all of the rides and hooplah. They offer pick-your-own blueberries in the summer and u-pick apples and pumpkins in the fall. The apple picking season opens on September 11, 2021.
178 Mass Ave.
—Allison Sutcliffe & Kate Loweth