8 Places to Go Apple Picking

Stock up on fall's favorite fruit while enjoying farm tours, autumn festivals, tractor rides and more.

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As we bid adieu to summer fruits like peaches and cherries, we welcome the return of fall harvests. Regional orchards offer plenty of apple varieties to suit every taste, and many have other pick-your-own fruits and veggies to wrangle out of the ground or off branches. Some also offer refreshments such as apple cider and hard cider to replenish those spent calories, and activities to keep the little ones occupied while you refuel. Here are eight places within 90 minutes of Arlington. Bring us back an apple-cider doughnut, please.

Valley View Farm

Approximate drive time: 1 hour

Come to pick the apples—and pears and pumpkins—and stay for a tour of the farm, which dates to 1731. Visitors can also learn about animal husbandry, orchard management and the Honey Bee Initiative, a research effort by George Mason University to develop and sustain honey bee populations. Also onsite are the Valley View Hard Cidery, Noble Hive Meadery, Valley View Cellars and Strother Family Vineyards. On Sept. 18, the farm hosts the Valley View Farm Wine and Hard Cider Challenge 5k, 10k and half-marathon at nearby Sky Meadows State Park (which runners can also complete virtually). Participants can rehydrate after the race with a free glass of cider (sweet or hard), wine or mead. //1550 Leeds Manor Road, Delaplane, Virginia, 540-592-1021

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Hay rides at Great Country Farms (Courtesy photo)

Great Country Farms

Approximate drive time: 1 hour

With so much to do on this 400-acre farm—two pumpkin jumping pillows, a cow train, putt putt, mazes, the Farm Ninja course and the new Mega Slide—visitors may need a reminder to head to the orchards. On the trees now are Honey Gold, Golden Supremes, September Fuji and Gala apples. Speaking of galas, each weekend in September is the Apple Gala and Cider Fest, which buys access to the farm, cider pressing demonstrations on a press from 1865, pig races and marshmallow roasting. Apple-cider doughnuts, plus pies, cookies and scones are for sale at the onsite Knead It Bakery, and Henway Hard Cider hosts a pop-up each weekend in The Roosteraunt, which also hosts live music Saturdays and Sundays through October. If you can carve out some time Sept. 17 or 24 from 6-9 p.m., you can catch the Family Flashlight Night and Storytelling event, featuring professional storytellers. The $14/child and $16/adult admission fee also gets you access to visits with goats, the jumping pillows, ninja course and more. //34345 Snickersville Turnpike, Bluemont, Virginia, 540-554-2073

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Butler’s Orchard (Facebook photo)

Butler’s Orchard

Approximate drive time: 45 minutes

Reservations are required to pick your own fruit and veggies at this 300-plus-acre farm. Pay $3 online or $4 at the gate to gain admission to the fields of tomatoes, banana peppers, red raspberries, basil, parsley and potatoes. (Apples will be ripe enough soon.) The fee also includes admission to the Farm Park, which has giant slides, farm animals and a playground. Or go for the 42nd Annual Pumpkin Festival, which runs Sept. 24-Oct. 30 and offers pedal tractors, straw and corn mazes, hayrides, barnyard animals, and giant slides. On weekends, The Farmer’s Porch offers sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza and all the apple-cider things: apple-cider slushie, apple-cider creamsicle and apple-cider doughnuts. //22222 Davis Mill Road, Germantown, Maryland, 301-428-0444

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Stribling Orchard

Stribling Orchard

Approximate drive time: 1 hour

This fall, the sixth generation of Stribling owners welcomes visitors Wednesday through Sunday to pick Golden Delicious and Jonathan (ready now), and Stayman, Fuji, York and Granny Smith (available later in September). Bring a picnic (or buy lunch at the Snack Shack on weekends), grab a cup of fresh apple cider (also on weekends only) and pet resident animals—if they come to the fence to say “hi.” Large groups may schedule a farm tour to learn how the family has grown fruit for 200 years. //11587 Poverty Hollow Lane, Markham, Virginia, 540-364-3040

Pumpkin's From Apple Orchard

Hollin Farms

Hollin Farms

Approximate drive time: 1 hour

Founded in the 1950s, this 1,000-acre farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains is offering pick-your-own Early Fuji, Wolf River, Golden Delicious and Jonagold apples. Though it doesn’t offer bells and whistles (no playgrounds or animals), the farm does have other u-pick options for filling the USDA’s MyPlate dietary guidelines: arugula, broccoli raab, mustard greens, radishes, kale, lettuce, peanuts and potatoes. Pumpkins, too. Work up an appetite at neighboring Sky Meadows State Park, where the 22 miles of hiking trails include a Kids in Parks TRACK Trail. There’s also the Nature Explore Certified Outdoor Classroom, the state’s first. //1524 Snowden Road, Delaplane, Virginia, 540-623-8854

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Mackintosh Fruit Farm (Facebook photo)

Mackintosh Fruit Farm

Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

This year, the Shenandoah Valley farm is charging a $2/person admission fee for pick-your-own fruit, but kids 5 and younger pick for free. Right now, no appointments are necessary to pick Crimson Crisp and Criterion Apples. Asian pears and some peaches are available, too, in addition to veggies like Brussels sprouts, kale, beets and green onions. Plan on lunch here with seasonal drinks like an apple-cider float, sandwiches made with local meats and veggies, and treats, including shakes, pie and muffins. //1608 Russell Road, Berryville, Virginia, 540-955-6225


Larriland Farm

Larriland Farm

Approximate drive time: 1 hour

Hey, hayride fans. Take your pick of not just 27 types of apples at this 49-year-old pick-your-own farm. On Saturdays and Sundays in late September and October, hitch a 20-minute wagon ride around the property, through a stream and into Halloween-decorated woods during the day or in the evening. On weekdays in October, it’s all aboard a pumpkin hayride through the stream and woods, with a stop at a pumpkin patch to select a pumpkin. The return trip is on foot through a straw maze. In addition to apples, pick Asian pears, or go for something ready-made: The farm sells apple fritters and welcomes food trucks on Saturdays and Sundays in October. //2415 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, Maryland, 301-854-6110

Upick Apple

Milburn Orchards

Milburn Orchards

Approximate drive time: 2 hours

Come for the apples—available varieties vary weekly and include Orange Honey and September Fuji—and stay for a festival. Or vice versa; tickets to u-pick and events are separate. On the weekend of Sept. 23-25, the orchard celebrates its 120th anniversary, and Fall Festival Weekends are happening now through Nov. 6.  Visitors ages 2 and up must have a ticket purchased from the orchard’s website. The admission fee includes access to the Corn Maze Adventure, Boo Barn, BarnYard Buddies, Bale Trail and Grain Cart Basketball. Hayrides are available for an additional fee. //1495 Appleton Road, Elkton, Maryland, 410-398-1349

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