Apple picking is an autumn staple here in New England, and while it may look different in 2020, it’s still possible to pick a peck of pippins, bag some Baldwins, and sack some SugarBees.
Four key takeaways: wear your mask, stay socially distanced, most ask that you book in advance (especially for weekends), and don’t bring your own bags. For specifics, be sure to read the orchard’s COVID page, or call before you go.
Stow’s Shelburne Farm allows walk-ins — and will have their signature cider doughnuts, along with outdoor food trucks, occasional live music, and pick-your-own pumpkins. You might try one of their caramel apples, sip mulled cider, then meet an alpaca. 106 West Acton Road. 978-897-9287, shelburnefarm.com
Kids might enjoy a hayride and meeting farm animals at Stow’s 200-acre Honey Pot Hill Orchards, while parents might want to advance-book a spot in the hard cider tent. The Green Monster hedge maze is open weekends; the smaller maze open daily. After you pick your own apples and pears, try a fresh cider doughnut, caramel apple, or bring home a pie. You might be lucky enough to snag some limited-batch pear cider. 138 Sudbury Road. 978-562-5666, www.honeypothill.com
Amesbury’s Cider Hill Farm grows dozens of varieties, from Kidd’s Gala to Linda Mac. The bakery offers doughnuts, pies, breads, granola, and more, while the farm store sells sweet cider, local eggs, maple syrup, honey, among other items. Eat at PitchFORK; the farm’s open-air food-truck offers hot dogs, hearty chili, ice cream, and the like (Wednesdays-Sundays). 45 Fern Ave. 978-388-5525, ciderhill.com
Sunshine Farm in Sherborn allows walk-ins to PYO apples. Shop the farm stand for sweet corn, fresh-baked pies, breads, cheeses, corn pizza, and more. 41 Kendall Ave. 508-655-5022, sunshinefarmma.com
With an 1810 post-and-beam barn and epic views, Gould Hill Farm is quintessential, postcard New Hampshire. The farm also offers occasional music on the patio, carriage rides (one family/group per carriage) and a few ways to get your apples: PYO, buy in-store, or have them shipped to your door. Try the apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin whoopie pies, and blueberry cookies. Shop jams, jellies, local honey, and maple candy. 656 Gould Hill Road, Contoocook. 603-746-3811. www.gouldhillfarm.com
Little Compton offers two picturesque spots: Pick apples and Halloween pumpkins at Old Stone Orchard, near the village of Adamsville. Stock up on eggplant and butternut squash at the farm stand. Kids can meet the Vietnamese potbelly pig and billy goats. 33 Colebrook Road. 401-635-2663.
Sitting on 300 acres, Young’s Family Farm offers PYO apples, pumpkins, and flowers, plus workshops. You might sign up for a Fall Pumpkin Floral Workshop so you can learn to make that dream Thanksgiving table setting (ticketed, most Saturdays in October). Kids can arrive costumed to Young’s Halloween Scavenger Hunt and Hayride — they’ll even snag glow sticks (Oct. 23 and 30, 4-6 p.m. $40, must reserve). Shop the farm stand for pizza, pies, and cakes for an in-car picnic. The kitchen’s special this month is spiced squash cake with cream cheese frosting. #TasteofAutumn. 260 West Main Road. 401-635-0110, youngfamilyfarm.com
At Jaswell’s Farm in Smithfield, R.I., you can PYO dentist-approved apples, then treat yourself to one of their famed gourmet apples. They come covered in creamy caramel, rolled in a topping — Heath Bar Crunch, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Snickers, pecans, crushed Oreos, to name a few — coated with milk chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate. Don’t feel safe going out, but you’re also drooling right now? They ship. 50 Swan Road. 401-231-9043, www.jaswellsfarm.com