1. New England
When it comes to fall foliage, New England’s a no-brainer. But the region’s trees produce more than colorful leaves. Massachusetts is home to 78 pick-your-own orchards, while Vermont boasts 35. Much of those two states and other areas of the region were hit hard by Hurricane Irene, and revenues from apple sales will help local governments make much needed repairs.
2. New York
The Empire State’s 297 orchards annually produce upwards of 600 million pounds of apples, many of which are natives. Thanks to Cornell University’s agriculture program, Cortlands, Empires, Macouns, Jonagolds, and many other varieties were bred not far from the orchards where they grow today. Apple pickers looking for a scenic adventure need look no further than the lush Finger Lakes region, the area around Lake Ontario or, closer to New York City, the fertile Hudson River Valley.
Ohio may not be the first state to come to mind when you think of picking apples, but with more than 110 orchards offering over 50 varieties, it probably should be. Romantics take note: The majority of Ohio’s orchards are nestled in the northeast corner of the state near the border of Pennsylvania, among the colorful fall foliage along the charmingly scenic Amish Country Byway.
Virginia’s southern setting means a longer growing season than New England and other northern states, as well as some harder to find apple varieties including York, Ginger Gold, and Stayman. Its 33 pick-your-own orchards are located throughout the state, from Fredrick County, not far from the nation’s capitol, to Charlottesville and the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains.
Unlike its neighboring state of Washington, many of Oregon’s 50 apple orchards offer a pick-your-own option. Just outside of Portland in the Willamette Valley, apple pickers have a slew of orchards to choose from, along with wineries, breweries, and well-regarded restaurants. What could be a more perfect outing for an autumn afternoon?
Nine hundred orchards is probably more than even the most dedicated apple picker wants to choose from. Fortunately, Michigan’s agriculture and tourist industries have made deciding where to go part of the fun. A variety of apple tours are offered throughout the state, combining pick-your-own with dining, pub tours, and other types of excursions.