Apple orchard

Apple orchard (Photo by Skylar Zilka on Unsplash)

September is a time when people pull out their sweaters, boots, flannels, and the rest of their fall fashion. You have to look good when you’re taking pictures of yourself apple-picking along a beautiful backdrop of vibrant leaves, right? With so many wonderful businesses to visit, we looked into the best apple orchards in the U.S. These orchards are overflowing with all the goodies that make for an amazing fall experience.

It’s no secret that fall is the most beloved season for many. Contrary to popular belief, pumpkin spice isn’t the biggest reason. While seasonal treats may be a popular perk of autumn, a survey finds they’re not the biggest reason America loves this time of year. A poll of 2,000 people in the U.S. finds more than half can’t wait for the changing of the leaves. It’s the most obvious choice, isn’t it? The OnePoll survey reveals that 51 percent say fall foliage is the season’s biggest draw. The weather overall finished just behind the turning of the leaves, with 45 percent saying they love the chill in the fall air. As for when that chill is just right, Americans think the perfect fall temp is 53 degrees Fahrenheit. Respondents think the best time to enjoy “peak fall” is the first two weeks of October. This is when the leaves are turning but haven’t all fallen yet, and the weather is chilly but doesn’t call for a heavy jacket.

As fall rolls around, visiting apple orchards and pumpkin farms is a popular way to spend a day. Picture this: Crisp, golden leaves crunching beneath your feet as you stroll through picturesque scenery. The air turns brisk, and the aroma of pumpkin spice and apple cider fills the atmosphere, inviting cozy gatherings around bonfires and hayrides. Classic fall also ushers in a sense of nostalgia, as it marks the beginning of the holiday season, with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the warmth of family traditions just around the corner.

Ready to embrace the season? It’s wonderful to know that there are so many to visit, even if you plan on traveling. StudyFinds did the work for you, searching the internet for expert reviews on the best apple orchards in the U.S. This list includes the top-recommended orchards, but of course, if you have a favorite we missed, let us know in the comments!

A bunch of apples hanging from a tree (Photo by Bozhin Karaivanov on Unsplash)

The List: Best Apple Orchards in the U.S., Per Experts

1. Mercier Orchards (Blueridge, Georgia)

Since 1943, Mercier Orchards has operated as the largest apple orchard in the Southeast. They’re celebrating 80 years in the business! “This orchard is located just a 20-minute drive from Ellijay, ‘Georgia’s Apple Capital,’ and their U-Pick season runs from August through October. The fourth-generation, family and veteran-owned orchard also features a winery with hard cider tastings, a ‘candy kitchen’ with fresh baked goods, tractor tours, and ponds for fishing,” explains The Pioneer Woman.

Mercier Orchards dominated the lists we reviewed. “I grew up going to the apple festivals up here and had a wonderful time picking apples with my family and then enjoying hot pies afterward. Everything I have ever gotten here has been fabulous. Mercier’s is just the best for fresh, local produce and YUMMY apple pies,” states Delish.

Bill and Adele Mercier started Mercier Orchards and it has been a family farm ever since. “Showcasing 52 varieties of apples, the U-Pick Apple Event is the most popular event of the season, which runs from early August to late October. A bakery/deli, farm market, and winery offer more to do and taste. At the same time, other events like cooking and baking classes, tours, and tractor pulls are staged at various times throughout the year,” says USA Today.

2. Jaswell’s Farm (Smithfield, Rhode Island)

Jaswell’s is a fourth-generation family-owned farm offering fresh-picked seasonal fruits and vegetables and an assortment of fresh baked goods in their bakery. “Apple picking and pumpkin picking is just the scratch of the surface for this local farm. The little store is filled with more of their fresh produce and homemade goodies. The apple cider doughnuts are the best I have ever had. The apple fritters are to die for. Then they have these extravagant caramel/chocolate/Oreo-covered apples. Apple cider, sauces, pies, apple butter, preserves, syrup, salsa, and more. ALL homemade,” says Yelp

Jaswell’s Farm is about thirty miles outside Providence, located in the heart of “Apple Valley” in Smithfield, Rhode Island. “The Jaswell family thanks guests for choosing their family-friendly and farm-fresh orchard for the pick-your-own-apples fall tradition. Each member of the party can select one extra apple to enjoy on their ride home! Reservations for apple picking in the orchard are required, and guests receive instructions and a bag for apple picking,” shares 10Best.

Jaswell’s Farm also offers corn in the summer. Native Corn is in stock and ready in the summer for your summer BBQ plans. “Jaswells is an organized farm with plenty of parking. The apples are cheaper than a grocery store and there is no minimum or fee to get into the orchard,” says USA Today.

3. Sky Top Orchard (Flat Rock, North Carolina)

A father-son duo opened Sky Top Orchard in the 1960s. They now offer more than 20 apple varieties to pick from August through October. The farm stretches over 100 picture-perfect acres atop Mount McAlpine in North Carolina. Just look at it! Along with its gorgeous mountain views, Sky Top features all the classic farm attractions, from hayrides to barnyard animals and fresh-made apple cider doughnuts. You can do an apple-picking-hop, and stop by the dozen other orchards in the area,” says The Pioneer Woman.

Sky Top is less than an hour south of Asheville, North Carolina. “Sky Top Orchard offers its guests the chance to celebrate fall on the mountain with a roadside stand feel and nostalgia of yesterday. The cool summer nights and warm days create perfect conditions for growing over 22 varieties of apples, with the U-Pick season lasting from August through the end of October. Gala, Honeycrisp, Fuji, Red and Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Pink Lady are just a few available varieties,” shares USA Today.

A beautiful scene should be a nonnegotiable for an iconic apple orchard shouldn’t it? “Not only does this orchard have scenic views and ponds with ducks and geese, but also boasts a bamboo forest. Apple picking, hay rides, and plenty of cider donuts are all part of this perfect family-friendly destination,” states Travel and Leisure.

4. Carter Mountain Orchard (Charlottesville, VA)

Be prepared to want to spend all day at this beautiful orchard with rolling acres of fruit trees and grapevines. “You can pick from over 20 varieties of apples, including sweet Fuji, flavorful Pink Lady, and tart York. Spend the rest of the day on hayrides around the property and enjoying fresh-pressed apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, and wine from their own label while taking in gorgeous views from the observation deck or picnic areas overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains and the valley below. Pre-picked pumpkins and gourds are available starting mid-September,” offers Oprah Daily.

Carter Mountain Orchard appeals to foodies too. In the store, you will find everything from apple butter to apple pies. There are also 11 types of pick-your-own apples. “There are tasting rooms where adults can sample hard cider and wine from a local cellar and a nearby winery. Apple picking hours vary by month, but generally, visitors can pick apples from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily between late July and mid-November,” says U.S. News.

Carter Mountain Orchard truly has something for everyone in the family and is a great place for a family outing. “On the property, they have wagon ride option and apple picking. At the food barn, they have donuts, cider, pies, and cider slushes. On site, they also feature wine tastings, as well as Bold Rock Cellar cider flights, pints, and cases to go,” shares Delish.

5. Applecrest Farm Orchards (Hampton Falls, New Hampshire) 

What makes an apple orchard one of the best is the variety of activities and food, in addition to the apple picking. “I’ve been coming since I was a kid. They have bluegrass music, apple picking, hayrides, scarecrow-making, pie-eating contests, and yummy farm items to buy,” states Delish.

“At Applecrest Farm Market, guests can shop for local produce and plants. And at The Creamery, you can tuck into delicious homemade ice cream,” shares Travel and Leisure.

If you stop by for apples before mid-September, you may even be able to come home with peaches and raspberries as well, since the harvesting times for those fruits overlap,” says The Daily Meal.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Janelle Davis

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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  1. Sama M. says:

    How could you leave out Vermont orchards?

  2. Hannah says:

    Hmm, these are all on the eastern half of the country. I wonder if the travel experts only travel the east of the Mississippi?

  3. Molly Scott says:

    Add Stade’s Farm and Market!

    Stade’s Farm & Market
    (815) 675-6396

    They’re also on Facebook!