As summer’s heat fades and autumn takes center stage again, the area’s apple orchards promise one-of-a-kind family fun. Fill container after container with juicy fruit, and pick up a pie or two as well. While you’re at it, pet a few farm animals, take a pony ride, or even go fishing at orchards and farms that are perfect for the whole family.
390 Orchard Road
Mohnton, PA 19540
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This Lancaster County standout is only about 60 miles from Philadelphia and offers ample apple varieties ripe and ready for picking–including Lodi, Yellow Transparent, Pink Lady and Granny Smith–through Nov. 1. A flower field also awaits. Plus, every Saturday from Sept. 29 through Oct. 27, Brecknock hosts its popular Fall Festival, featuring hayrides, orchard tours, children’s crafts, a straw maze and make-your-own caramel apples, as well as soap- and applesauce-making demonstrations.
137 W. Knowlton Road
Media, PA 19063
Price: $1.79 per pound
This Philly favorite pick-your-own destination sits on 300 acres and is known for its dedication to entertainment, agriculture and education. Though it offers other fruits and vegetables, when it comes to apples, no one does it better than Linvilla. The apple season runs from mid-September through late October and there are 20 varieties growing on 20 acres. You also won’t want to miss this year’s Apple Festival, running Sept. 22 and 23, which features hayrides, a pie-eating contest, pony rides and face painting. While you’re there, be sure to get in some fishing, feed a few farm animals, and pick up scrumptious baked goods and freshly picked produce.
3325 Creamery Road
New Hope, PA 18938
Price: $1.25 per pound
Less than an hour from Philadelphia, 70-acre Solebury Orchards boasts an apple season that runs from Aug. 30 to Nov. 7. Seventeen pick-your-own varieties are available, including popular Honey Crisp, Cortland and Keepsake, a Solebury specialty. On September and October weekends, wagons take visitors out to the orchards rain or shine, so come with umbrella in hand. Be sure to also head to the cutting garden and pick a pretty take-home bouquet. Then stop by the market for some freshly picked produce, just-pressed apple cider and applesauce, or cooling cider ice.
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133 Church Rd
Price: $1.79 per pound
Medford’s Johnson’s Farm kicks off an apple picking season that runs from September 1 through October 8. Gala apples are the first to show up in trees, but there are six other varieties later in the season to pick from, including Empire, Red Delicious and Granny Smith. Don’t forget to stop at the Farm Market before you leave for fresh-baked apple pies, cider donuts, caramel apples and a farm favorite, Apple Cider Slushes.
3 Waln Rd
Price: $0.85 per pound
This northern Burlington County farm is owned by second generation farmers Ross and Tara Kiesling, who offer a more laidback picking experience. There are no corn mazes or hayrides here, just lots and lots of delicious apples, including Gala, Macintosh, Golden Delicious and even Asian pears. Strawberry Hill is open seven days a week, and the apple-picking season runs from mid-August through last October.
Greentree & Chapel Heights Rd
The Duffield family has been farming for more than 80 years, and they don’t intend to stop anytime soon. This South Jersey farm raises more than 50 varieties of veggies and fruit and offers pick-your-own peas, strawberries, apples and pumpkins. Picking season depends on that year’s harvest, so call ahead before you make your way over. After you’ve got your basket of apples, stop by the bakery for some of their delicious apple cake or fresh cider donuts.
Hill Creek Farms uses a special “vertical axis apple planting” that originated in France and was used to grow dwarf apples. Their trees are evenly spaced and maintained in a pyramid shape, and they grow no higher than 12 feet at maturity. Offering eleven varieties of apples for the picking, this Gloucester County farm keeps visitors coming back year after year. In 2012, they are producing their own cider and will have u-pick Asian pears for the first time. The apple-picking season began Sept. 5 with Jonagolds and runs into November, when the last of the Fujis are harvested.
1767 Clearview Road
Coplay, PA 18037
Price: $1.30 per pound
Pick-your-own is a specialty at this family owned, 100-acre farm, and the staff here makes it easy for visitors by providing containers and easy-to-reach dwarf apple trees. Eleven varieties are available, including Royal Gala, Honey Crisp, and great-for-baking Idareds. Already picked fruit is also available in the marketplace, along with baked items, preserves and fruit butters. On weekends, activities include games, pony rides, a treasure hunt, even a Noah’s Ark Animal Workshop in which kids may make their own stuffed animal on September and October Saturdays. All of this (and a life-sized carving of Johnny Appleseed) await less than 90 minutes from Philadelphia!
40 Fruit Lane
Morgantown, PA 19543
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This fourth-generation family farm is about one hour from Philadelphia and boasts 18,000 apple trees on its 35 acres, offering pick-your own at its best. Find more than 25 varieties grown here, including Star Gala, a new variety discovered here; all-purpose Golden Supremes; and crunchy Crimson Crisps–all grown on dwarf trees for easy reaching. Enjoy a market filled with baked goods, sandwiches and free-range meats, too. Family Fun Days on Saturdays during September and October feature live entertainment, good eats, hayrides, farm animal visits and face painting.
Carol Josel, a Blue Bell, PA resident, is a learning specialist, author of three books, and examiner.com contributor. Her work can be found here