Apple season is in full swing: crisp, local apples are available even at the most ho-hum grocery store. When you want to get closer to the essence of the apple than the supermarket/farmer’s market/roadside stand, it’s time to head for an orchard. But which one? New England is rich in apple orchards; it’s almost impossible to choose. We polled local apple pickers/parents who chose the following as their favorite orchards for all sorts of reasons. (Note: unless otherwise specified, all orchards listed here are in Rhode Island. Always call first to confirm PYO times and availability.)
Phantom Farms, 2920 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland
Karen and her family in Providence are huge fans of Phantom Farms. Great apple picking, of course, but she says “it’s all about the extras” with her crew: “apple crisp–with ice cream! Tractor/wagon rides! A playground!”
Open daily 6:30AM-7PM weekdays/7AM-7PM weekends
Call for PYO hours
Sunset Orchards, 244 Gleaner Chapel Road, North Scituate
Apples, fresh baked pies and pastries, group tours. Jenn in Providence says that she saw “a coyote or small mountain lion”–wild excitement in addition to perfect apples! Italian bread, barrel train rides, and apple pies, too. Visit Sunset’s frequently updated facebook page for the most up-to-date information on apples and activities.
Open daily, 8AM-6PM
Barden Family Orchard, 56 Elmdale Road, North Scituate
Jill in Barrington recommends Barden for its large variety of apples, pumpkin patch “and a small store with Narragansett Creamery yogurt and cheese.” A bushel of Barden Macouns can be devoured in an instant.
Open daily 9AM-6PM
Dame Farm & Orchards, 94 Brown Avenue, Johnston
Many families are introduced to Dame Farm on nursery school field trips and then return year after year. Given its proximity to Providence, it’s impossibly bucolic, with PYO apples galore. With added attractions like horse-drawn carriage rides (and horse-drawn bobsled rides later on in the year, when the terrain is right) and bedazzling mom & daughter-made caramel apples for sale in the tiny market.
Open Daily 9:30AM-5PM
Hill Orchards, 86 Winsor Avenue, Johnston
Kathleen in Providence loves Hill Orchards for its “old trees in not-so-perfect rows.” Horse-drawn hayrides through the apple orchard and pumpkin patch.
Open weekends and holidays. Call for times.
Rocky Brook Orchard, 997 Wapping Road, Middletown
Noteworthy for having forty-five (45!) varieties of apples (as well as peaches, pears and quince). Family friendly, with boughs low enough for toddlers to do their share in filling a basket.
Open Saturdays & Sundays 10AM-4:30PM
Weekdays, by appointment only
Sweet Berry Farm, 915 Mitchell’s Lane, Middletown
Apples, peaches, pumpkins, cider, and applesauce too. Andrea in Portsmouth recommends both the apples and Sweet Berry’s tantalizing market, where you will find gorgeous sandwiches, homemade ice cream, and deli tubs of gummy frogs.
Open daily 8AM-7PM
Young Family Farm, 260 West Main Road, Little Compton
Joan in Rumford says this one’s “very pretty and has YUMMY apples!” PYO apples and then purchase pumpkins and amazing cut flowers at the farm stand.
Open daily 8:30AM-6PM
Holmberg Orchards, 12 Orchard Lane, Gales Ferry, Connecticut
Anna in Stonington gives Holmberg Orchards top marks for variety (peaches, pears, nectarines in addition to lots of apples) and proximity to another farm with excellent ice cream. With PYO flowers, hayrides, hard cider and wine (in the Wine Barn, of course) to boot.
Open daily 10AM-5PM
Maple Lane Farm, 57 NW Corner Road, Preston, Connecticut
Dwarf trees make picking easy for your shorties. One dozen varieties on nine beautiful acres.
Open Thursday through Sunday, 10AM-4PM
C.N. Smith Farm, 325 South Street, East Bridgewater, Massachusetts
An eighty-year-old family farm with over a dozen varieties, including the luscious Mutsu. The farm also features an on-site cider mill, pumpkins, and “Not to Creepy Hayrides” for Halloween excitement. Maria (eight months pregnant) and Tom (age 2) in Brockton left happy, with scads of apples.
Open for PYO Thursday through Sunday 10AM-4PM
Keith’s Farm, 1149 Main Street, Acushnet, Massachusetts
One of several lovely farms in Acushnet recommended by Jessica in New Bedford. Apple picking, pumpkins, and hayrides to jostle you over to the pumpkin patch. Food court with candy apples and other goodies.
PYO weekends only 9AM-5PM
Worth a day trip:
Atkins Farms, 1150 West St, Amherst, MA
In the scenic Holyoke Mountains, with a bountiful market and a facebook page to lure you and yours onto the Turnpike. Francesca in Winnipeg (Manitoba) recalls Atkins as her all-time favorite New England apple-picking spot.
Market open daily 7AM-7PM
Call for PYO hours (weekends)
Photo credits: Abe Dane (polka dot girl), Maria Sullivan (boy chomping apple), and Anna Sawin (the rest.)