The 2015 Guide To Hudson Valley Apple Picking
Although it always makes me a little sad to see the berries and stone fruits of summer gradually disappear from my favorite Union Square greenmarket farm stands, it's also one of the best times of year for fresh fruit because… APPLES! Apples in so many different varieties, textures, flavors, sweet or tart, crisp and juicy, red or green or somewhere in between–really, I eat at least a dozen apples a week between now and spring. Mostly because they're delicious and versatile, but also because they're so convenient, with an excellent shelf life–or, I guess, counter-top fruit bowl life–that allows for buying in (relative) bulk. But if you can't get farm-fresh apples from the greenmarket during your weekly routine, maybe take a day and head up to the Hudson Valley for one the city's great fall family excursions, apple picking at one upstate's awesome orchards. There are plenty to choose from; here are some of our favorites.
Because apple picking can be about much more than just apple picking–there's also pumpkins at most of these places, and things like hay rides and corn mazes, doughnut and cider festivals, farm animals to pet and gawk at–Hudson Valley Magazine's annual Apple Picking Guide is always a good place to start your planning. And if you have a designated driver in tow, you can always combine your apple-picking fun with one the area's many Oktoberfest-related beer happenings, such as the massive drinking (and sausage) party at Hunter Mountain.
More Than Just Apples At Masker Orchards
Although we missed out on Warwick's bountiful Applefest this year (it happened last Sunday), local favorite Masker Orchard is still overflowing with fruit. This is the place I've been to most often over the years–because of its close proximity and nice assortment of activities, it's a perennially popular NYC-elementary-school field trip destination–and with 200 acres and plenty of varieties, it's a solid bet for a great day of picking. Plus, if you (or your kids) are in the mood to do more, Masker also offers a corn maze (open daily) as well as wagon rides and a haunted house on the weekends.
Apple Cider For Adults At Applewood Orchard
Also in Warwick, but with more alcohol (!), is the Applewood Orchard, which grows more than 10 varieties of apples (so something is always ready to pick at this time of year), plus there's a full-fledged pumpkin patch, wagon rides, and a petting zoo. Applewood Orchards–renamed Apple Dave's Orchards in honor of its founder, who recently passed away–is right next door to Applewood Winery, complete with on-site tastings and the Cider Cafe.
New Paltz, NY – Apple Picking, USA
Over at the foot of Shawangunk Ridge right outside of New Paltz, and boasting some spectacular views for fall foliage lovers–as well as a talked-about fresh apple cider–the Jenkins and Lueken Orchards is another good option for fruit-loving families. Nearby Dressel Farms is a similar operation, with similarly mind-blowing views of the valley, though we hear the cider doughnuts here are some of the best around. Plus, at Dressel you'll find a ice cream stand, selling Crowley soft serve and Perry scoops, both of which are always a fine idea.