Where to Find Apple-Picking Fun in North Carolina
Here are seven orchards your family can visit for apple fun and treats
Photo courtesy of Natalia Kirichenko/Shutterstock.com
September is prime apple-picking season at Carolina orchards. The largest N.C. crops come from Henderson County, just outside of Asheville, and include Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty and sweet Gala varieties. Hendersonville also hosts the annual N.C. Apple Festival each Labor Day weekend. Here are a few best bests for where to pick a peck of apples, sip on cider and sample homemade apple butter, apple-cider doughnuts and apple-cider slushes.
Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill is three hours and 30 minutes away from the Triangle in York, S.C., and grows Stayman Winesap apples. The season opens Aug. 17 and estimated pick-your-own date is Sept. 6. Stay tuned to the calendar to see updated events. Everyone 2 years of age and older must have their own pre-purchased bag to enter the orchard. Bags can be purchased at the farm stand. Prices range from $5-$25. Also be sure to check out their hard-cider tastings and live music, and try an apple-cider doughnut or fried apple pie. 1860 Black Highway, York, S.C.
Carrigan Farms is located two hours and 15 minutes away from the Triangle area in the town of Mooresville, north of Charlotte. The farm has apples ripe for the picking beginning in September and open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $11 per person, and includes a half-peck bag of apples, plus a hayride to the orchard. 1261 Oak Ridge Farm Hwy., Mooresville
Great to partner with a trip to Asheville, Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, North Carolina, is four hours and 15 minutes away from the Triangle and has 22 varieties of apples good for picking. Check out their ripening schedule to make sure you come at a time to pick your favorite types. You'll also find great mountain views at this orchard where you can enjoy apple-cider slushes, apple-cider doughnuts and hot caramel apples. There also are barnyard animals to visit, a playground for kids and picnic areas. You can also watch a cider press at work.
Open daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. August-October. Note GPS directions aren't always accurate, so use this address if using a GPS: 3403 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock
Four hours away from the Triangle, this orchard is located on mile 328.3 on the Blue Ridge Parkway and is open from May until October. Apples are $10 a peck or $6 a half peck. The orchard even offers picking poles so your little ones can try to reach the apples on higher branches.
Go on a story-telling hayride, a guided story-telling or nature walk, color or play checkers in the Kids’ Corner. Check the schedule for live music and other fun events. The orchard also offers children’s programs at Super Saturdays, a program of Appalachian Heritage Activities for children ages 6 to 12.
Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 1025 Orchard Road, Spruce Pine
Four and a half hours away from the Triangle, Stepp's Hillcrest Orchard is picking Early Fuji, Mutsu, Jonathan, Jonagold, Red and Golden Delicious, Cameo, Shizuka, and Gala Apples as well as sunflowers. Stepp's also features apple cider and pumpkin donuts for sale, a corn maze adventure, an apple cannon, wagon rides through the orchard and more.
Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m-6 p.m. through October. 170 Stepp Orchard Dr., Hendersonville
Three hours away from the Triangle, Apple Hill Orchard is located just a few miles off of I-40 in Morganton near Hickory. In addition to picking apples, explore the cider mill and country store. The apple picking season starts in August for Gala and Arlet apples and continues until late October with twelve other apple varieties available.
Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. through Oct. 31. Closed Sundays. 2075 Pleasant Hill Ave., Morganton
Millstone Creek Orchard is just an hour away from the Triangle and near Asheboro. There is no u-pick at this orchard this year due to weather conditions, but every weekend of September is AppleFest — an event with apple picking, hayrides, storytime with Johnny Appleseed, apple-pie-eating contests, apple bobbing and more! Admission is $8, and free for children under age 2. In October, the orchard switches to Oktoberfest, an event with pumpkin and gourd picking opposed to apples.
AppleFest happens all September weekends: Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sun., 1-5 p.m. 506 Parks Crossroad Church Road, Ramseur