Apple Picking is a popular tradition in Western North Carolina. Every year the mountains are ablaze with autumn colors and sunshine, while a cool mountain breeze floats through hills pleading for you to come enjoy the outdoors. There is no better way to reap the benefits of the North Carolina climate than apple picking in one of the many local orchards in Western North Carolina. From late August to the end of October, enjoy the harvest season of over 40 varieties of apples grown in Western North Carolina, making it the 7th to 9th largest apple-producing state in the country, depending on the year. Here are a few of our favorite orchards, festivals, and ways to enjoy the apple picking season in Western North Carolina.
Where: Flat Rock, NC
Hours of Operation: Everyday in Season (9 am to 6 pm)
Skytop Orchard is full of ways to enjoy the apple harvest season in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Their orchard bakery offers fresh-made treats including caramel and fudge apples, honeys, jams, and jellies, not to mention their famous apple cider doughnuts. Grab some sweets treats and enjoy the fresh mountain air in the various picnic areas on the orchard. When you are done there, take a stroll through the bamboo forest on the nature trail surrounding the orchard pond! Watch ducks and geese glide across the water at home in this orchard with a family farm feel. Take your kids on a tractor ride through the orchard and see barnyard animals like goats and sheep, chickens, and even peacocks! Watch an operational cider press crush apples, bees do their work in a functional beehive, and apple cider doughnuts prepared fresh, all right in front of your eyes! Make sure to pick up gourds and pumpkins this autumn season, either for decoration or your favorite recipes.
Where: Hendersonville, NC
Hours of Operation: Everyday in Season (8 am to 5 pm)
Grandad’s Apples is a 30-acre apple and peach orchard that will warm your heart, and belly, in the cool autumn months. Home to some of the best apple delicacies in Western North Carolina, their Bakery offers apple turnovers, caramel apple cookies, apple pies and dumplings, apple cider doughnuts, even apple cider slushies! When you are finished, browse and load up on your favorite apple varieties in their Country Store. Not to mention local crafts, treats, and canned goods including apple butter, apple peelers, and honey to name a few. Grandad’s Apples is also loaded with family-friendly fun! Get lost and found in Grandad’s 5-acre corn maze redesigned every year to keep the challenge going! Bring the little ones to bounce around and expend some energy on the jump pillow inflatable! One of the neatest features of Grandad’s orchard is the apple canon! Load small apples into the cannon and use compressed air to shoot them at silhouette targets across the field! While you are there, stop by the pumpkin patch! With varying sized pumpkins, everyone can pick their own big or small pumpkin to carve, decorate, or eat!
Where: Hendersonville, NC
Hours of Operation: Everyday in Season
Monday-Saturday (9 am to 6 pm), Sunday (10 am to 6 pm)
Spend the day at 38-acre Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard! This family-run orchard offers rows and rows of apple varieties and large pumpkin patches ripe for the picking. Stop by their Farm Market for some tasty, apple centric treats including apple cider and pumpkin doughnuts. On weekends, enjoy their BBQ lunch meals onsite in their picnic area. Enjoy some family time on the corn maze, try your hand at the apple cannon, hop around the jump pad, or enjoy an educational walk through the nature trail with your whole family, including your pet on a leash! Another way you can enjoy the orchard is to pick your own sunflowers and zinnias from the orchards to arrange bouquets, decorate your home, or stage photos! Another unique feature of Stepp’s Hillcrest Orchard is the access to the apple farmers themselves. Three generations of the Stepp’s family are onsite working and chatting making sure you have everything you need to make your experience great. Ask them about their process and learn about the deep-rooted history of apple farming in Western North Carolina.
Where: Spruce Pine, NC
Hours of Operation: Wednesday to Sunday (10 am to 5 pm)
The Orchard at Altapass is a 501c3 public non-profit that works to preserve the land and its history in Western North Carolina. The Orchard does this by growing varieties of apples that have almost gone extinct and many of the trees on the orchard are still tended to organically with minimal chemicals, after being planted by their original owners before the 1920s! The orchard calls them heirloom apples because they preserve the varieties popular before mass-produced grocery stores. The Orchard hosts live music and dancing, plays and events, and offers great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The orchard is a sanctuary for native birds, inviting birders to the deck looking over the forest. The butterfly bushes provide a haven for monarch butterflies every year. Enjoy a hayride through the orchard or foot it through the walking trails enveloped by breathtaking greenery. Grab a few romantic photos with your significant other against the backdrop of beautiful, protected forest land surrounding the orchard. Bring your kids and teach them about protecting nature, organic living, and the history of the Western North Carolina mountains.
Where: Hendersonville, North Carolina
When: Every Labor Day Weekend
The North Carolina Apple Festival brings apple growers and orchards from across the state to Hendersonville, North Carolina for one of the most memorable festivals in the state. Many of the orchards listed above are represented and growers bring a number of apple variety for you to sample and enjoy. The four-day event every Labor Day Weekend has everything you could want from a festival including a street fair, carnival rides, the King Apple Parade, live music, delectable apple treats, recipe contest, crafts, and more!
Where: Waynesville, NC
When: October 17, 2020 (10 am to 5 pm)
This autumn celebration highlights the hard work that growers put into producing every apple and the agricultural history in Western North Carolina. Hosted by the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce, the festival is a must for anyone with a sweet tooth. Enjoy apple tarts, warm apple pie with a scoop of homemade ice cream. Apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, and turnovers to name only a few. Enjoy artisan crafts and live music from local artists and performers not to mention family-friendly games and fun throughout!
Delicious apple treats like apple cider doughnuts, slushies, drinks, and pies are only a few ways to enjoy the apples grown and picked right here every year in the Blue Ridge Mountains. For some adult fun with a brewery vibe, make sure to check out one of the many cideries throughout Western North Carolina. Our favorite is Bold Rock Cidery in Mills River, North Carolina! Enjoy a pint of hard cider made from locally grown apples, try their seasonal flavors in a flight, listen to live music, enjoy game nights, or grab a bite at their tasty food truck and sit by the campfires on-site and catch up with dear friends.
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