14 Apple Orchards to Visit this Fall
As summer winds down, the first chill of autumn in the air, the time has arrived for apple picking. All season the apples have been storing up the sweetness of summertime, and now branches hang low with fruit green, red and gold. With whimsical names like Zestar, Gingergold, William's Pride, and Summer Rambo, they’re just waiting for us to wander by and take a juicy bite.
U-pick fruit farms tend to hold a special place in the nostalgia zone of our brains along with childhood Christmases and the first time you tasted a marshmallow toasted over an open fire. Nothing tastes like the ripening of summer into fall quite like an apple right off the tree.
Vermont has no shortage of lovely orchards -- mostly family-owned -- that will let you wander ‘bout the grounds while gathering a delicious bounty to take home. And apple picking, in my opinion, beats all other fruit picking. No crouching required, many varieties to taste, and you can even do a little tree climbing if the spirit moves you.
Feeling drawn to the orchard? Here’s a list of 14 u-pick farms from across the state that State 14 writers, readers, friends, and neighbors have recommended.
Burtt’s Apple Orchard (Cabot)
Certainly, the most impeccably organized apple orchard I’ve ever seen. They provide you with a map that clearly marks where to find different varieties and which are ready for picking that week. Little ones can ride along in red wagons, and they have helpful picking sticks for those hard to reach apples. Stop by their farm stand for cider, cider vinegar, cider slushies, and cider doughnuts. The farm also has pears and tart cherries.
Wellwood Orchards (Springfield)
Just outside of Weathersfield is Wellwood Orchards. That’s orchards plural because they have a wide array of different fruits and vegetables on offer. Apples, but also strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, grapes, pumpkins and more. They also have a delightful petting zoo and offer something called “baby goat yoga,” which is what it sounds like, yoga in the company of baby goats. Because why not.
Windswept Farm (Barton)
This farm has the distinction of being one of the highest farms in Vermont. We assume that means elevation unless they are growing something more potent than just berries, apples, cherries and pears. Word is they are especially known for their raspberries.
Shelburne Orchards (Shelburne)
Just outside of Burlington near the banks of Lake Champlain, Shelburne Orchards has a charming farm stand with apples, peaches, plums, sour cherries, and table grapes. Their calendar is jam-packed with everything from tree sales in the spring to a pie fest and a Taiko drumming gathering in the fall. U-pick season starts with sour cherries in July, peaches in August and then apples on into the fall. They also have a distillery and tasting room where you can sample their apple brandy grown, made, and cask-aged on site.
Boyer’s Orchard + Cider Mill (Monkton)
Apple season at Boyer’s also means the arrival of their seasonal pies, turnovers, cookies, bread, and most importantly, the most cinnamon-sugary, pillowy, perfectly chewy cider donuts in all of Vermont. This according to State 14’s Carolinne Griffin.
Green Mountain Orchards (Putney)
In southern Vermont, this enormous family-owned orchard has been in operation for over 100 years. They make some of the best pie around and also sell their own jams, butter, apple sticky buns as well as raspberries, peaches, pears, plums, pumpkins, and Christmas trees in season.
Mendon Mountain Orchards (Mendon)
If you really want to make a holiday out of an apple-picking excursion, book a stay at this family-run motel, bakery, and heirloom apple orchard. It’s a short drive from Pico and Killington ski resorts and just up the road from the Norman Rockwell Museum in Rutland. So between that and their apple pie and farm animals including miniature Shetland sheep and Rex rabbits, your head might explode with how adorably all-American this place is.
Sweet Seasons Farm (St. Johnsbury)
After a summer season of blueberry and raspberry picking, Sweet Seasons is the place to go in the Northeast Kingdom for organic, certified naturally grown apples. Plus they have an array of confections for your sweet tooth including maple caramel apples, nutty chocolate barks, and butter-dipped cider doughnuts.
Peck Farm (East Montpelier)
Looking for a classic corn maze to accompany your apple outing? Peck Farm has a family-friendly maze that’s updated every year with new configurations and surprises. They also offer hayrides and pumpkins when the fall harvest is in full swing.
Happy Valley (Middlebury)
On the outskirts of Middlebury, Happy Valley orchard runs a tidy u-pick operation annually during September and October with a diverse variety of apples. They are also a key supplier for Citizen Cider hard cider in Burlington and press the cider right there at Happy Valley before handing it off to Citizen for fermentation. Happy Valley is also the emotional place I find myself between my first and second can of Citizen Cider.
Champlain Orchards (Shoreham)
One of Vermont’s oldest and largest orchards, Champlain Orchards’ apples and cider can be found in grocery stores all across the region. Despite its scale, it’s still a family run business and deeply committed to ecological and sustainable practices. With an epic view of Lake Champlain, the farm has 220 acres of fruit trees which include over 100 varieties of apples as well as plums, peaches, nectarines, pears, raspberries, cherries, blackberries, currants, and blueberries. Their ecological management includes renewable energy systems such as solar power and efficient cold storage technology recently upgraded in partnership with Efficiency Vermont.
West Swanton Orchard (West Swanton)
Up in the far northwest corner of Vermont, you can pick your own apples and enjoy cider doughnuts, honey, and maple products at the picturesque West Swanton Orchard. Pumpkins and tractor rides are also on offer when October rolls around.
Hackett’s Orchard (South Hero)
An important part of the South Hero Island community, this 50-acre orchard is on land conserved through the South Hero and Vermont Land Trusts. Their shop carries all manner of Vermont-made goods and seasonal treats including the farm’s own honey, apple crisp, cider, cider doughnuts, and maple products from area producers. When fall arrives, they also have mums, pumpkins, and gourds. Kids can enjoy wagon rides and a picnic and playground area.
Cate Hill Orchard (Greensboro)
Finally, I couldn’t resist including this inspiring permaculture orchard and sheep farm that, while not an advertised u-pick operation, does often host delightful gatherings to celebrate the seasons and share their bounty while helping people reconnect with mother earth. You can also join their apple CSA or find their apples at the Montpelier Farmers Market.
BONUS: Poverty Lane Orchards (Lebanon, NH)
We’ve been told it’s worth crossing the border for Poverty Lane’s u-pick apples, pears, raspberries and, best of all, their Farnum Hill Cider, a dry hard cider that comes in four varieties. It claims to be one of the biggest and oldest apple operations in New Hampshire, and it’s only ten minutes from White River Junction.
Want more u-pick orchards to graze? Find & Go Seek also has a handy list of apple picking spots around Vermont. If you have other favorites, tweet us at @state14st. Happy picking!
Ready to visit some orchard? Check out this map!