Crisp, cool air, pies baking in the oven, warm cider, fuzzy sweaters and brightly colored leaves falling from the sky are just a few of New England’s autumn charm. Don’t forget the most time-honored tradition of being a New Englander: apple picking. Apple picking isn’t just about apples either; there are hayrides, pumpkin patches, fresh produce, homemade cider donuts and lots of farm animals to befriend. Apple picking is an outing and a great way to support local farms. There’s no shortage of places around Boston to pick apples, but there are some locations that rise to the top with their large selection of apples and wide variety of activities. These are Boston’s best places to go apple picking.
Honey Pot Hill
138 Sudbury Road
Stow, MA 01775
Price: $24 20-pound bag, up to five people/$16 10-pound bag, up to three people
Honey Pot Hill is located 27 miles west of Boston and boasts a wide selection of picking apples, such as macintosh, gala, cortland, honey crisp, empire and red delicious. With 25 types, you are sure to find an apple to enjoy. But if you feel like something different, Honey Pot Hill offers pear picking as well. Round out your day at the farm with a hayride, hedge maze or tunnel maze. For the more adventurous, tire yourself out with the 1.5-mile green monster maze. This family-owned farm also boasts barnyard animals, including pigs, goats, roosters and rabbits. Apple picking, fresh air and mazes can be tiring, so indulge in a treat of freshly made cider, cider donuts, homemade fudge, ice cream, and fresh-baked apple or pumpkin pies to end your fun-filled fall day. Please refrain from bringing the family dog as dogs are not allowed for sanitary reasons.
143 Argilla Rd.
Ipswich, MA 01938
Price: $3 entry fee/$15 10-pound bag up to five people
Just 35 miles north of Boston is a family-owned farm that’s perfect for apple picking. Russell Orchards organic farm offers a chance to pick cortland, empire, gala and macintosh apples, while the farm store sells other fresh fruits and vegetables. Cruise the selection of products and go home with fresh eggs, honey, cider or herb vinegars. Follow your watering mouth and give in to the fresh-made cider donuts. Pick up a bottle or two of Russell Orchards’ homemade fruit wine with flavors such as apple-blueberry, cherry, blackberry, rhubarb or peach. Or buy some hard cider to sip later when you are home with your feet up. The $3 entry fee will go toward the apple picking cost if you choose to pick your own apples. Bring cash if you plan on going during the weekend or on a holiday.
106 West Acton Road
Stow, MA 01775
Price: $26 20-pound bag/$18 10-pound bag
Shelburne Farm is situated on 50 acres and located 27 miles west of Boston. Get into the fall spirit by picking apples such as gala, cortland, spencer, red delicious, braeburn and fuji. There are even small trees for the little farmers. Enjoy the farm animals including ponies, chickens and llamas. Perhaps a pony ride or hayride is just the thing after walking through the hay maze. Spruce up your fall décor and pick up a pumpkin or two. Kick back and listen to live music as you munch on a cider donut or hand-dipped caramel apple. Enjoy the applewood smoked grill if you venture out on the weekend. Tantalize your taste buds with freshly made apple-baked goods or farm-fresh ice cream. There is no admission fee, parking is free and all major credit cards are accepted. Keep the pooch at home as no dogs are allowed.
Related: Boston’s Best Fall Festivals
315 South Bradford St.
North Andover, MA 01845
Price: $20 10- to 14-pound bag/$35 20 to 24-pound bag/$40 bucket (and keep the bucket!)
Smolak is a 300-year-old, family owned farm that sits on 160 acres and is located 30 miles north of Boston. Entrench yourself in the history as you pick apples such as macintosh, empire, macoun, granny smith and golden delicious. Visit with the barnyard animals that include chickens, alpacas, cows and llamas. Smolak Farms offers hayrides and a playground for the little ones. Treat yourself to fresh baked goods, homemade cider donuts or some farm-fresh vegetables such as heirloom tomatoes, peaches or pumpkins. If you have a sweet tooth, Treadwill’s famous ice cream is a big hit with everyone. Make it an extra-special day and reserve time with a professional photographer to have your family portrait done on the farm using the fall scenery. Bring along your furry companion, too, so long as he is leashed. Smolak Farms accepts visa and mastercard and parking is free.
1125 Pleasant St.
Leominster, MA 01453
Price: $7.60 5- to 6-pound bag/$14.50 10- to 12-pound bag/$20.75 20- to 22-pound bag
Sholan Farms sits on 169 acres about an hour northwest of Boston. This farm uses a 3.2 kilowatt photovoltaic system to do its part to be environmentally friendly. Feel good about picking your apples, such as gala, macintosh, crimson crisp, fuji, honeycrisp, cortland, macoun, empire and red delicious, on a farm that has gone green. With hayrides and hiking, breathe in the fresh air as you listen to live entertainment and snack on fresh-baked goods. Purchase some fresh produce or pick pumpkins to bring home. Sholan Farms offers a discounted price, $0.40 per pound, for taking home dropped apples, which are perfect for making applesauce or baking.
Nicole Adams resides on the South Shore of Massachusetts. She is a freelance writer specializing in animal welfare. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.