Apple and pumpkin picking U-Pick farms and local orchards are among Fall’s best family getaways. Go for a day or stay a weekend. Whether you’re hungry or just looking for a cheap staycation, communing with our food supply is a fun vacation.
This year, some U-pick farms may require advance reservations to limit crowds and maintain social distancing. Some have reduced hours as well.
Read along as the apple-a-day FTF staff divulges the best places across America to pick your own fruit.
Why Go Apple and Pumpkin Picking? It’s Fun and Nutritious!
Fall means the days begin to shorten and the leaves begin to change. That’s when apple picking and pumpkin picking move into full swing across America. In late August, September and early October, there’s no better way to spend an afternoon. Enjoy the apple orchard or fields of a little farm, away from the hustle and bustle of the produce aisle in the supermarket.
Many orchards also have a farmer’s market on site. Shop for homemade apple cider, pies and cinnamon donuts. Select a gourd from the pick your own pumpkin patches so it’s fully ripe and ready for Halloween.
Others offer hayrides, live music, petting farms, and special weekend activities — often requiring a fee — geared toward families.
Figure out What’s Cookin before U Pick ‘Em
Before you head out, consider what you’ll do with the apples or pumpkins that you pick. Different apple varieties are better suited for different purposes. Apples certainly make for great healthy snacks all by themselves. The most popular varieties for eating include Macintosh, Empire, Fuji, Idared, Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, and the Jonathon.
But if sauces or pies are in the plan, try the Cortland, the Golden Delicious, the Russet, and the Mutsu.
Some apple orchards are part of larger u-pick fruit farms. Dive into Farmville with late Spring berry picking and fruit picking. But if you’re an apple hold-out, note that each variety ripens at a different time of the harvest season. Between late August and mid-November, call ahead to be sure your destination hasn’t been picked clean of your favorite apples.
As for pumpkins, if carving is in order, wait. Buy one one to two weeks prior to Halloween so that the flesh does not begin to rot. And beware, if you store your pumpkins outside, critters may get to them first.
Major U.S. Apple and Pumpkin Picking Regions & Where U Pick ‘Em
Enjoy each feature story about the following apple-picking regions. We provide links to local farms so you can find out what’s ripe. Call ahead to check what’s happening for kids of all ages.
California Apple Farms – Learn all about the great apple picking farms within driving distance of San Francisco.
Illinois Apple Farms – Great apple and pumpkin picking farms exist throughout Illinois; these are some favorites for Chicago area families.
Massachusetts Apple Farms – New England is known for its excellent apple crops. Head to the Boston area which has many u-pick fruit farms to choose from.
New York Metro Apple Farms – There’s a huge customer base for fresh fruit in the tri-state metropolitan region. That’s why upstate New York, New Jersey and Connecticut offer a large variety of apple and pumpkin picking farms. Expect plenty of weekend entertainment served with fresh-off-the-tree fruit.
Oregon Apple Farms – The Pacific Northwest is a favorite apple growing region. Families in and around Portland have many farms in the “Fruit Loop” that can be visited all year.
Pennsylvania Apple Farms – In this bountiful agricultural region, families find many u-pick apple farms. Like the pumpkin patches, they’re easily accessible to Philadelphia, Wilmington and New Jersey families.
Washington Apple Farms – Washington is one of the country’s largest producers of fresh apples, with a long growing season. Families in and around Seattle take advantage of the many area orchards and autumn scenery for a day away.
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