Top 10 Massachusetts Apple Orchards to visit this winter

Top 10 Massachusetts Apple Orchards to visit this winter

Massachusetts is home to some of the nation’s top apple orchards — one of which is featured below — offering no shortage of quality orchards and farms to visit this fall.

It’s that time of year again: apple-picking season.

Highlights

  • Big Apple Farm — Wrentham

  • This list incorporates some of the top-rated apple orchards across Massachusetts, with options for visitors traveling from anywhere in the state.

Red Apple Farm — Phillipston

The farm hosts apple picking each Saturday and Sunday through the first weekend in Oct. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A half bushel of apples (20 pounds) goes for $35 and a peck (10 pounds) goes for $20. The farm store, however, is open daily, also from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to apples, the farm also grows apricots, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, hops, pumpkins and various vegetables — but make sure to try the peaches, which are picked each morning.

Founded in 1912, and owned by the same family since 1929, Red Apple Farm boasts a number of interesting records, including being home of the oldest commercially planted McIntosh apple tree and being the highest elevation apple orchard in Massachusetts (which the farm says makes the apples “extra crisp and colorful”). Visitors can also pick a wide variety of other fruits and plants — including digging their own potatoes. But beyond harvesting, a visit to Red Apple could also include a meal at the farm’s BBQ kitchen, or a stop at its cidery or Brew Barn. The farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (7 p.m. on Sundays).

Tougas Family Farm — Northborough

Ranked last year the sixth best apple orchard in the country by USA Today, Tougas Family Farm offers a range of produce picking — from strawberries early in the year to more than thirty varieties of apples in the fall. Right now is peak honeycrisp and gala time of year and the beginning of pumpkin season, the farm says. For apples, up to three visitors can split a 10-pound peck box for $33, or five visitors can split a 20-pound half-bushel bag for $46. Apple picking is open Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Parlee Farms — Tyngsborough

The 93-acre farm offers visitors the chance to pick apples, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, peaches, flowers and pumpkins. In May, Yankee Magazine named Parlee the best pick-your-own fruit farm in Massachusetts, saying “You’ll taste the difference but won’t necessarily see the science-guided, labor-intensive practices that the Parlee family employ.” The farm is open Tuesday to Sunday, plus Columbus Day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last entrance at 4 p.m.). Apple picking is weather permitting, but the farms updates its website each day with weather and picking conditions. Apple prices are $35 for a half-bushel, $25 for a peck and $17 for a half-peck. UMass Cold Spring Orchard — Belchertown

Home of a University of Massachusetts Amherst research facility where students learn about fruit growing, the orchard is open for picking on weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cold Spring grows over 100 varieties of apples, including rarities like shamrocks or winter bananas (also a type of apple). “You won’t see Winter Bananas in stores, because they bruise easily and can’t take the treatment of shipping and store handling,” the orchard says. “Here, they only need to be gently carried down the hill.” Smolak Farms — North Andover

If you’re looking for a particular variety of apple, Honey Pot Hill makes it easy. Their Apple Schedule lays out exactly when to expect a Royal Gala to be ready for picking versus, say, a Red Delicious. The farm also has blueberries, peaches and three varieties of plums available at different points of the summer. Honey Pot Hill additionally makes fresh donuts each day and has a hard cider tent. Apple picking is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, with up to five people able to split a half-bushel for $33 and up to three able to split a peck for $22. Lookout Farm — Natick

Honey Pot Hill Orchards — Stow There is much more to Smolak Farms — including educational tours, summer programs and hay rides — than just apple picking. But as the farm says on its website, “When people talk about Smolak Farms, they think of apples!” There is a huge variety of apples available, including about 20 in the Antique Apple Orchard section of the farm, which the farm says was planted to preserve apples no longer grown commercially. There, you can find varieties such as the Chenango Strawberry, Cox Orange Pippen and Sheepnose. In addition, the farm has Granny Smiths, Empires and other mainstays. Apple picking is open daily. A half-bushel costs $40 and a peck costs $30.