When the air turns crisp and the leaves put on their colorful autumn show, locals and visitors flock to Massachusetts apple orchards. Generations of families join together for this annual fall outing. Laden with bags of freshly picked apples, giddy from hayrides through the orchards, and hungry from the aroma of freshly baked cider donuts — these families bear the hallmarks of the annual fall apple harvest.
Apples ripen from late July to late December depending on the variety. Many orchards offer apple picking in September and October when the harvest is the largest, however, you will find select orchards that begin to offer pick-your-own options in August.
If you are more of a grab-and-go apple shopper, you can find Early Macs to the later Delicious varieties in the farm stands already picked for you.
We have assembled a list of the best apple orchards in Massachusetts for you to explore. They are showcased below in no particular order.
1. Honey Pot Hill Orchards, Stow
At Honey Pot Hill Orchards, 20 different apple varieties are grown. Classics like Macoun, Honeycrisp, and McIntosh join harder-to-find apples including Smitten and Ginger Gold.
The adorable Honey Pot Hill Orchards farm animals, including the mini ponies and bunnies, are fun to visit. You can purchase feed onsite for a fun way to interact with these four-legged residents. There are two green mazes, an adult and kid version, for you to get lost in your wandering.
2. Tougas Family Farm, Northborough
At the Tougas Family Farm, they love the you-pick concept. The orchard offers over 30 varieties for your apple picking adventure. You will find your favorite traditional apples like Gala, Honeycrisp, and Fuji. Fun apple options like Pinova, an apple with tropical fruit overtones, and Crimson Topaz, a uniquely shaped apple with a sweet-tart profile that will challenge your traditional apple expectations.
The Farm Store at Tougas Family farm carries all the goodies you would want from a day at the farm. Local honey, preserves, and fresh-baked goodies line the shelves along with fresh-picked fruits for your enjoyment.
3. Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield
Four generations of family farmers have been successfully operating Clarkdale Fruit Farm. It offers apple picking in the McIntosh orchard and grows over 40 different varieties that are available in its farm stand. You will find all the usual suspects like Red Delicious and Mutsu. Additionally, in the bins, you will find some interesting and hard-to-find apples like Roxbury Russet, Rhode Island Greening, Wolf River, and Pound Sweet. Not found in your local grocery stores, the best way to get your hands on these seasonal options is to visit the orchard.
Using the Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Clarkdale Fruit Farm practices environmentally sustainable agriculture. Applying fewer chemicals to the trees means a healthier apple for customers and healthier land.
4. Parlee Farms, Tyngsboro
Hop on the weekend hayride out to the orchards at Parlee Farms. Over 20 varieties of apples are grown on dwarf trees making them perfect for easy picking. One of its newer varieties, Snowsweet, offers a sweet and tart flavor profile. Another new apple, the Cameo, is a great eating, good all-around apple.
The Parlee Farmstand produces amazing cider donuts and a delicious apple crisp. You will find a wide selection of baked goods and fresh, seasonal apples to round out your apple picking trip.
There are lots of fun things to entertain the kiddos too, like feeding the farm animals and wandering through the hay maze.
5. Smolak Farms, North Andover
At Smolak Farms you will notice it is focused not only on growing amazing apples but protecting varieties for the future. Its antique apple orchard is a preservation orchard for 20 varieties of apples that are difficult to find. These apples include Winter Banana, Seek No Further, Sops of Wine, Chenango Strawberry, and more.
Visit Smolak Farms for your classic fall options like Macoun, Jonagold, and Cortland. While you are there, be sure to pick up a few of the heirloom varieties, too.
The weekly bakery specials showcase the freshest fruit creations, like warm apple cider donuts and tasty fruit preserves. The picnic program is the perfect way to enjoy a relaxing farm visit. In addition to a hayride through the farm, you enjoy some of the freshly made goodies while nestled among the scenic apple orchards.
Using the IPM farming techniques, the farm also offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program where locals receive a box of fresh-from-the-farm produce to supplement their weekly groceries. Look for a CSA in your area to support local farmers and enjoy the freshest food available.
6. Carlson Orchards, Harvard
Located in bucolic Harvard, Carlson Orchards is 100 acres of farmland and orchards. With over 20 varieties of apples, you will find your old standby must-have varieties like McIntosh, Rome Beauty, Gala, Ginger Gold, and more.
Its line of hard ciders come in flavors like Shandy Stand, Harvard Harvest, and Honey Crisp. After strolling the orchard, kick back at its Cider Barn Taproom and enjoy a freshly pulled pint.
7. Cider Hill Farms, Amesbury
At Cider Hill Farms you can enjoy wholesome down-on-the-farm fun for the entire family. The apple picking offers guests an opportunity to explore the orchard while gathering the freshest apples available.
Visitors to Cider Hill Farms can experience all the wonderful things about farm life. The farm presses its own cider, jars the honey from its 30-year-old hives, bottle its own brand of hard cider, and its bakery churns out gorgeous apple cider donuts, pies, and so much more.
8. Autumn Hills Orchard, Groton
This picturesque orchard offers stunning views of the central Massachusetts landscape. When the leaf-peeping season begins, Autumn Hills Orchard is primed for your apple-focused fall foliage viewing adventure. On a clear, crisp autumn day you will see swaths of colorful trees on rolling hills with local mountains providing a beautiful backdrop.
Growing over 30 varieties of apples and employing IPM techniques, Autumn Hills Orchard is more than just an apple farm, it is a day getaway destination. Taste a fresh-from-the-tree Cox Orange Pippin, Ida Red, Northern Spy, or Spigold and savor the sweet/tart taste only a New England apple can offer.
The orchard offers a CSA Fruit Share program that will help keep your diet on the healthiest track possible.
9. Nashoba Valley Winery, Bolton
Nashoba Valley Winery offers guests a wide range of seasonal outings. Apple picking is just one of the fun activities available. Head down to the orchard for a few hours of nature bonding while filling your bag full of colorful and delicious apples.
Wonderful wines made with its locally grown fruit are the hallmark of the Nashoba Winery orchard. It offers more than 30 wines along with a selection of spirits and other libations. Of course, you will find amazing apple wines like its Cyser vintage sweetened with honey for a crispy autumnal flavor pairing. Additionally, you will also find more classic options like its estate chardonnay and its dry red Renaissance.
Stay for dinner and explore the wine and dine pairings at J’s Restaurant. Enjoy expertly crafted, locally driven, fine dining surrounded by central Massachusetts’s rolling hills and orchard scape.
10. Red Apple Farm, Phillipston
At Red Apple Farm you will find apples, lots and lots of apples! Sink your teeth into fun, unusual apple varieties like Yellow Transparent, Lodi, Duchess of Oldenburg, Arkansas Black, and many more. Of course, you will find the classic varieties you love, too.
At the country store, explore delicious baked goods including apple cider doughnuts, apple dumplings, and freshly baked pies. Along with all the fresh farm produce, you can also enjoy its homemade fudge and freshly scooped ice cream. A little bit of healthy and a little bit of sweet, the perfect balance.
At its Brew Barn & Cidery, it offers live music and great brews from Moon Hill Brewing Co.
11. Lookout Farm, Natick
A visit to Lookout Farm is all about apple picking and more, it is an event destination. Stroll the orchard and fill a bag full of fresh-from-the-branch apples, for a perfect family outing.
After the picking is done, enjoy an alfresco, Lookout Farm cider or beer, and a nibble of great pub grub. Its live music series features rocking local bands and you can gather and party with friends to great music while the sun sets.
Time To Visit A Great Apple Orchard
Most of us think of apple picking season as a fall activity. However, there are many orchards that open for pick your own apple options beginning in August where you can enjoy the early apple harvest varieties.
Autumn in New England is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors. When you are done apple picking with your friends and family, you can enjoy other fabulous nature-driven outdoor activities like fall hiking in Massachusetts and fall foliage viewing around the Commonwealth. Whether you need some Mother Nature bonding time for a few hours, a full day, or a weekend, Massachusetts has some of the best nature-focused activities for you to enjoy.
Fall festivities in New England run the gamut, from leaf-peeping to apple picking, to regional festivals: