Where to Find Apple-Picking Fun in North Carolina
Here are seven orchards your family can visit for apple fun and treats
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. (For the 2020 event, organizers say this: “Due to the ongoing concerns over the Coronavirus, we have determined that we are unable to hold a Street Fair including the associated Entertainment and Kiddie Carnival, as well as, the King Apple Parade.”) 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.
Now open through December for the Fall 2020 season. Read this year’s COVID guidelines here.
Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill is three hours and 30 minutes away from the Triangle in York, S.C., and grows Stayman Winesap apples. 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.
“Apple picking will begin around September 8, 2020 and last through September 30, 2020,” the farm says.
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
The orchard is open every day until December for the Fall 2020 season.
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
“UPDATE: Because staff is limited, the Orchard online store is closing and the Apple Core Grill will remain closed for the remainder of the season. We hope that this won’t keep folks away. The ice cream is still icy cold and the apple pie steaming hot. And the fun (U-Pick) is just beginning.”
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.
Open Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., through Nov. 1. 1025 Orchard Road, Spruce Pine
See their COVID guidelines here.
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–Saturday, 9 a.m.– 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.– 6. p.m.
170 Stepp Orchard Dr., Hendersonville
COVID-19 guidelines here.
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 Dec. 24. Closed Sundays. 2075 Pleasant Hill Ave., Morganton
COVID guidelines here. “This apple season is going to look quite different than the past as we are limiting the number of guests who can be in the fields at once and requiring pre-paid online reservations to be made prior to your visit. The ONLY way to pick apples this fall is through our Apple Pickin’ Adventure, which includes access to the u-pick fields, a hayride, apple tasting, and a mini apple cider slushie.”
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.
506 Parks Crossroad Church Road, Ramseur