The late summer and early fall is apple picking time at the Washington apple orchards and u-pick farms and pumpkin patches surrounding the city of Seattle. Did you know that Washington State is the country’s Apple Capital? It’s true, and an estimated 56% of all apples consumed in the U.S. are grown in Washington. The state is also well known for its cherries.
The best apple picking around the Seattle metropolitan area is in King, Kitsap, and Snohomish counties. So whether you are looking to pick fruit, go on a hayride, or buy fresh baked goods, Family Travel Forum has you covered. This year, keep in mind that to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, many U-pick farms require face coverings and advance reservations to limit the crowds and maintain social distancing.
Before you shell out $20 for an empty bushel bag or up to $5 per pound, keep in mind that different varieties are better suited for different purposes. Honeycrisp, Idared, Red Delicious, Fuji, Macintosh, Empire, and the Jonathon are great for eating. For sauces or pies, use the Cortland, Mutsu, Golden Delicious or Russet instead. If lavender appeals more, this new crop is also plentiful at many of these farms.
For a complete guide to apple picking orchards and farms across the country, check out the FTF Guide to Top U-Pick Farms in the US.
Apple-Picking in the Seattle Metro Area
There are several PYO Washington apple farms, fruit orchards and pumpkin patches located in Seattle’s surrounding counties. Skipley Farm, just a half-hour’s drive north in Snohomish, is one of the more interesting ones because it offers guided farm tours led by naturalists as well as horticultural classes. A working farm and plant nursery (especially edible plants), they feature organic produce and apples. Among their 2,000 dwarf apple trees, there are 320 varieties. Because there’s fruit ripening all the way from July through October, Skipley is also a fun U-Pick destination with smaller children. Depending on the season, there are also many other fruits and berries to harvest; in fact, they’ve begun growing trees and bushes of Serviceberry, Aronia, Autumn Olive, Thimbleberry, Elderberry and Cranberry. September is the best month for apple varietal choice, but some species are available to pick in August and into mid-October.
Need an inexpensive rental car for apple picking?
The Farm at Swan’s Trail is a much livelier option in Snohomish, with tons to do. Check out the 55-acre pumpkin patch open late September to Halloween which is free, along with PYO apples, and access to the early bird breakfast or hot food. Activities which require a paid wristband include a Washington State corn maze, petting farm, hay pyramid, jumping pillow, wagon rides, pig races and more, open daily in fall.
Fun Apple Picking Farms around Washington
Will you drive two hours to Whatcom County, just outside Bellingham? If so, then Bellewood Farm & Distillery is the farm of choice, with more than 25,000 trees of 15 varieties under cultivation. Their focus is on the farm store, distillery (fruit brandy, vodka and gin), gift shop and cafe, where they sell locally grown wines, hard ciders, gourmet cheese and seasonal fruit. This is the largest apple and pear orchard in Western Washington. Wednesday to Sunday through October, families peruse which part of the extensive UpPick orchards they want to pick first. Look for Honeycrisp and Tsugaru apples in mid-September plus several other varieties at the farm store. There’s a corn maze, small train and other activities for a fee. Check their online calendar for live music performances on summer weekends and UPick trees plus Christmas displays on December weekends.
Although Yakima is not very close (allow 2 1/2 hours for the 150-mile drive), we want to shout out to Johnson Orchards, where fruit is in season almost all year. While it was USA Today‘s pick as a ‘top 10 apple picking spot’ this place is about quality fruit, not the raucous fall U-Pick festival that some orchards have become. They feature cherries, cherries and more cherries from mid-June to late July, so expect Bing, Rainier, Van, Lapin, Skeena and Sweetheart varieties. Come back in August for apricots, peaches or nectarines, as well as pluots, plums and pears. As for apples, they’ve raised apple orchards there since 1904 and the best harvest is September to December. In addition to the many varietals, you can enjoy Johnson’s beautiful rolling hills, changing leaves, extensive bakery items baked each weekend and classic ca. 1916 apple warehouse. We’re sorry to say there’s no U-Pick for the 2020 season but it’s worth a visit for produce shoppers.
Don’t Forget Washington State Pumpkins!
As you get closer to Seattle, many of the farms go purely pumpkin and only sell apples through their farm store. Carleton Farm, about a half hour from Seattle, is one of them. It’s owned by third-generation Carleton’s and offers much more than PYO on its 60 acres. Look for pumpkins by the thousands in addition to other vegetables. Go have fun with the pumpkin cannon, exactly what it sounds like. Along with the zip line, hay rides, farm animals, soccer bowling, bucket train and corn maze, it has a fee. The annual Fall Festival includes Family Fun Nights with games and after-dark carnival activities (think Flashlight Maze.) Brave kids can hang out for the Halloween-themed Haunted Swamp and Zombie Hunt.
Find the best deals on Washington hotels for your apple-picking adventures here.
Remlinger Farms is home to a very commercial Family Fun Park with over 25 kid-friendly rides and attractions. Admission to the Fun Park (open weekends mid-May to late October) includes pony rides, a 4H Animal Barnyard, authentic half-sized steam train rides and more. Inquire about the self-guided tours which take you around to learning stations to hear about pioneer life, farm animals, corn milling and more from guides at each station. Visit the farm’s Facebook page or website for more detailed information on seasonal celebrations such as their Beer and Wine Tastings. Their U-Pick offering jumps from raspberry and strawberry weekends in spring to pumpkins from late September to late October, which is when this place shines. Reservations required.
In addition to its pumpkin patches, the Carpinito Brothers Farm, which grows tomatoes and other vegetables, sells bark and nursery supplies, features produce from farms around the state, and invites families to get lost in their corn maze, open through the end of October.
Favorite Washington State Pick Your Own Fruit Farms
Carleton Farm, 830 Sunnyside Blvd SE, Lake Stevens, Washington 98258 – 425/334-2297
Carpinito Brothers Farm, 1148 Central Ave North, Kent, Washington 98032- 253/854-5692
Bellewood Farmstead & Distillery, 6140 Guide Meridian, Lynden, Washington 98264 – 360/318-7720
Johnson Orchards, 4906 Summitview Avenue, Yakima, Washington – 509/966-7479
Remlinger Farms, 32610 NE 32nd St, Carnation, Washington 98014 – 425/333-4135
Skipley Farm, 7228 Skipley Rd., Snohomish, Washington 98290 – 206/679-6576
Farm at Swan’s Trail, 7301 Rivershore Rd., Snohomish, Washington 98290 – 425/334-4124
Enjoy your day out and share your favorite apple recipes!
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