One of fall’s favorite pastimes is heading to an orchard and plucking apples straight off the tree. “It’s such a great ritual,” says Andrew Richards, farm manager and head distiller at Millbrook’s Shady Knoll Orchards and Distillery. “Fall in the Hudson Valley is so beautiful, and the smell of an orchard is so good.” Here are 11 to check out.
Poughquag \ bartonorchards.com
Incredibly delicious apples + every possible kind of entertainment = Barton. This 175-acre orchard offers something for everyone: Trees dripping with fruit (from Honeycrisp to McIntosh), hayrides, kids’ petting zoo and fun park, Bark Park for pups, live music, and all kinds of food, from fried pickles to still-warm cider donuts. Arrive early if you don’t like lines. And take note of the special weekend events, too: Oktoberfest on September 17–18 and the Fall Festival on September 24–25.
Hopewell Junction \ fishkillfarms.com
This is the spot for eco-certified and organic apples—100+ varieties—including heirlooms (Cox’s Orange Pippin and Cortland). Family owned for over a century, Fishkill Farms’ PYO season stretches from late August into November. Reserve your spot online to pick your own, and check out which vegetables are ripe, too. Then allow time to hop on a hayride to take in the view of the Catskills. There are also special weekend events, from festivals to yoga.
Red Hook \ greigfarm.com
Celebrating 80 years, this family-run farm offers 11 varieties of apples, including Jonamac, Gala, and Blondee (kids go crazy for them). Watching and feeding the playful goats behind the farm market is popular, so is grabbing a cider at the Abandoned Cider outpost. Check the schedule for the Sohu craft market, explore the hiking trails with Catskill views, and swing by the pumpkin patch if your home needs some Halloween spirit.
Warwick \ maskers.com
Ten-thousand trees dot Maskers, with 14 types of apples to tempt you. You’ll find a great mix of red and golden varieties; familiar names and some off-the-beaten-path ones, like McCowan, Smoothies, and Surprise. Cars can drive right up to the trees, which is a blessing (convenient) and a curse (dust clouds). The vibe is ultra-welcoming: “Admission is free, parking is free, bags are provided free, and best of all, eat all the apples you wish while visiting our orchard-free!” says the website. There are kiddie rides, donuts, and more to help make a day out of your outing.
Tivoli \ meadorchards.com
Here’s a little history: Back in 1916, G. Gordon Mead purchased a 100-acre farm and began shipping barrels full of apples down the Hudson River. His grandson Chuck now steers the farm, and rather than floating the apples downstream, the produce is available at local markets and to those PYO-ers who visit. Here you’ll find some next-level eco apples: Querina, Rubyfrost, Suncrisp, and other hard-to-find varieties—but all delicious. Head to the highest hills; you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views.
Warwick \ penningsorchard.com
A visit to this sprawling orchard is like a day at the fair. First, pick whichever of the 15 different kinds of apples are ripe (cash only for PYO). Consider yourself warned that the Honeycrisps typically sell out by mid-September. Once you’ve loaded up, take your time wandering through the vast farm market and garden center, grabbing a bite at the Farm Grill, hanging out at the beer garden, and visiting the animal barn. Check the schedule for events, like live music and goat yoga.
Prospect Hill Orchards
Milton \ prospecthillorchards.com
There’s nothing like picking delicious-looking apples in a picture-perfect setting. At this Milton gem—which celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2017—you can select your peck at the 15-acre Homestead Farm and set up a picnic next to its central pond. If you’re looking for more of an adventure, trek to the peak of Hilltop Farm—which features the colorful rolling hills of neighboring Ulster towns as well as dwarf apple, cherry, and peach trees. Don’t be quick to leave after picking your weight in apples: the family can enjoy tractor-pulled hayrides, explore pumpkin patches and corn mazes, and more on festival weekends.
Rose Hill Farm
Red Hook \ pickrosehillfarm.com
A favorite site for families and those seeking the perfect Instagram feed, Rose Hill is nestled in the glorious rolling hills of Dutchess. Established in 1798, this family-owned farm has been doing things right for almost 225 years. The PYO season kicks off with Ginger Golds in late August and closes out with Granny Smiths in mid-November. Beyond the rows of apple trees, there’s much more to keep you occupied, like live music, food trucks, and Rose Hill’s wine and cider served in their soaring-ceilinged taproom, plus pop-up markets and events.
Kinderhook \ samascott.com
If you’re the curious type, Samascott Orchards will probably have enough apples—70 varieties—to keep you intrigued all season long. You’ll find such elusive varieties as the Esopus Spitzenburg and Candy Crisp as you explore this 200-acre orchard. Rent one of Samascott’s four-person surrey bikes (first come, first served) to cover more ground. There’s fresh cider, plus homemade cider donuts and ice cream at the farm store. The nearby Samascott Garden Market typically has an original, artistic themed corn maze in the fall; past designs include everything from ice cream cones to spiderwebs.
Stone Ridge Orchard
Stone Ridge \ stoneridgeorchard.com
Head to the heart of the Rondout Valley—between the Gunks and the Catskills—to find this 200-year-old farm. Some of the ancient, original trees still exist on a hilltop, but now there are over 1,000 gourmet apple trees bursting with fruit. If that isn’t enough to keep you busy, explore the beautiful land, sample some cider and wood-fired pizza, and see if any live music is on the schedule. Ready to make a weekend out of it? Reserve an on-premises campsite.
Yorktown \ wilkensfarm.com
This Westchester farm, over 100 years old, draws hungry hordes from across the tristate area. It’s so popular, in fact, they encourage visitors to come in September for the best variety of apples—Gala, McIntosh, Baldwin, Cortland, Macoun, and more. (Tip: Rent a pole to help you whack fruit off the upper branches.) But don’t stop with just a bushel and a peck; hit up the charming farm market which is a carb-craver’s dream come true. Don’t even think about leaving without Wilkens’ famous apple-cider donuts, strudel sticks, brownies, and possibly a pie.