When it comes to apple picking, Massachusetts is THE place to go. With its rich agricultural heritage and picturesque landscapes, the state offers a ton of options for apple lovers. Among the best apple picking spots in Massachusetts is Russell Orchards in Ipswich, where visitors can enjoy the beauty of scenic orchards and choose from a wide selection of apple varieties. Another standout destination is Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, renowned for its Insta-worthy setting and many apple options.
On our trips to Boston when the kids were little, we always looked for a way to break up the drive. In late summer or early fall, we would often stop for an afternoon of apple picking in Massachusetts. Nothing says New England like a crisp Macoun right off the tree and a backdrop of dazzling fall foliage.
Most Massachusetts apple orchards have several types of apples, so you can pick your favorite varieties. Look for nearby farm stands where you can also get other fresh fruit and vegetables, after apple picking.
And if you want to pick your own fruit without kids, you can find hard ciders and craft beers to enjoy at Massachusetts apple orchards.
The best apple orchard can be the one that is the shortest trip, the one with hayrides, a corn maze and farm animals, the one with pumpkins or the one with rare varieties of apples that make fall lunches more exciting.
Maybe you’re searching for apple cider donuts. Or doughnuts. However you spell it, they are one of the best tastes of fall.
So, where to go? Start with this list of some of the best apple orchards in Massachusetts.
Apple Picking Near Boston
When our middle daughter went to college in Boston, we would combine apple picking with a fall campus visit. This was separate from parents weekend, which was more kid-centered. But our daughter was happy to spend time with us outdoors and we were happy to provide her dorm with a variety of apples.
If the timing was right, we could pick apples AND go pumpkin picking. The car smelled wonderful on the way home, filled with the scent of fresh fruit and veggies.
1. Russell Orchards
Russell Orchards in Ipswich, Massachusetts is an ideal apple picking destination, with sprawling orchards and a charming vibe. It is one of the best apple picking spots in Massachusetts, offering a wide variety of fruit. It’s fun for all ages, but please leave your fur babies home since pets are not permitted.
Ipswich is about 40 minutes north of Boston, so this apple picking paradise is one that’s not to be missed. Beyond apple season, Russell Orchards offers a variety of pick-your-own berries and a farm store and bakery with a great selection of produce, cider and donuts. Check out the adorable barnyard animals at this orchard that’s been growing since 1920.
2. Carver Hill Orchard
The family-run Carver Hill Orchard, in Stow, Massachusetts, specializes in McIntosh, Macoun and Honeycrisp apples during apple picking season. The seasonal country store, open July-November, has other fresh fruit grown on the farm, produce, cider doughnuts and ice cream. You can also get local maple syrup, eggs, cheese and meat.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Bring a cooler filled with ice packs so you can safely bring the farmstand dairy products home.
3. Shelburne Farm
Shelburne Farm, also in Stow, has apple and pumpkin picking, plus hayrides, farm animals and a playground. The farm store sells cider doughnuts and other fruit grown on the farm. The farm grows 120 varieties of fresh fruit. In addition to common varieties of apples like Honeycrisp, Gala, McIntosh and Cortland, try unique varieties like Bonkers, Scarlett O’Hara and Cox’s Orange Pippin. You can pick your own Asian pears and peaches, too.
There is also live music. Food trucks are a great choice for lunch.
SheBuysTravel Tip: unlike some apple orchards that only accept cash, Shelburne Farm doesn’t take cash. Bring credit cards or use the appropriately-named ApplePay.
4. Honey Pot Hill Orchards
Yet another Stow, Massachusetts, destination, Honey Pot Hill Orchards distinguishes itself with a corn maze. The fourth-generation family-owned farm has pick-your-own apples, pears and blueberries. It is open July through December, and also offers hayrides, barnyard animals and a farm store.
5. Tougas Family Farm
For a stop from our home in New York City on the way to Boston, Tougas Family Farm, a seasonal fruit farm, was ideal. The farm has pick-your-own strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, pumpkins and, of course, apples.
This is also the place to go with young kids, since you can see the barnyard animals. You can also get ice cream and apple cider donuts here.
6. Lookout Farm Orchard
Lookout Farm Orchard in Natick, has apple picking, pumpkins at the farm market, apple cider doughnuts and live music at its taproom. This is a great place when the kids get older – or when your kids leave home and you want to go apple picking with friends. Craft beer, hard cider, BBQ and live music are all in abundance. Eat year round in The Greenhouse at Lookout Farm, or seasonally at the outdoor patio.
The year-round farm store sells craft beer and hard cider to go. Lookout Farm, one of the oldest continuously working farms in the United States, began operating in 1650. They continue to innovate, using solar power and sustainable farming methods.
7. Red Apple Farm
Red Apple Farm brings the farm to Boston, with a stand at the Boston Public Market. But for the full apple picking experience, you have to go farther afield, to Phillipston. Since the drive is longer, you will want to spend the day. But Red Apple Farm offers so much to do, you will want to return again and again.
For families with little kids, there are wagon rides and barnyard animals to pet. The family-friendly Brew Barn, an outdoor brewery, has lots of adult appeal too. There are local brews on tap, hard ciders, BBQ and fresh roasted nuts. There is also live music during the day and in the evening.
The country store has apple cider doughnuts, apple dumplings, ice cream and homemade apple cider.
There are walking trails through the apple orchard and the property’s forest.
The fourth generation family-owned farm, open year round, practices Integrated Pest Management, which protects the environment and the consumers of their fresh fruit.
In addition to apples, you can pick your own blueberries, raspberries, pumpkins, sunflowers and potatoes.
8. Cider Hill Farm
Cider Hill Farm, about 45 minutes north of Boston, is a family owned, non-GMO farm that uses solar power and Integrated Pest Management.
In addition to apple picking, you can PYO strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. There is also vegetable pick your own: tomatoes, carrots and beans. Cider Hill Farm has pick your own flowers in spring and summer. And pumpkin picking in the fall.
There is live music on weekends, and food trucks so you don’t have to pack lunch. There are barnyard animals kids can pet for free.
The farm store has homemade jam, New England maple syrup, honey from the farm’s own hives, hard cider and eggs from the farm’s own chickens. Of course, Cider Hill Farm also presses its own fresh cider, sold here.
If you overindulge in the apple cider donuts, you can take a free exercise class on some weekends.
Cider Hill Farm, in Amesbury, Massachusetts, does not allow pets.
9. Carlson Orchards
Carlson Orchards, a family-owned farm in Harvard, MA, has more than 20 varieties of apples for picking. You can also PYO blueberries, raspberries, cherries and peaches.
The fresh apple cider is sold throughout New England, but you can get it here at the source. The Cider Barn restaurant serves hard cider, pizza, homemade ice cream sandwiches and fresh apple crisp.
The farm store is open year round.
Carlson Orchards does not allow pets.
10. Parlee Farms
Parlee Farms, in Tyngsboro, is a seasonal fruit farm with pick-your-own apples, pumpkins, blueberries, strawberries and cherries. You can pick your own flowers, too. The farm stand, also seasonal, has local honey, non-GMO corn grown on site and other local fresh fruit and vegetables.
Farm animals at Parlee Farms include dwarf and pygmy goats, sheep and chickens.
Food at Parlee Farms includes homemade blueberry or apple crisp, apple cider donuts, ice cream and strawberry shortcake. Healthier options include farm fresh roasted corn and full lunches.
Note: PYO Peaches and nectarines are not available in 2023.
11. Smolak Farms
Smolak Farms, in North Andover, has an antique apple orchard with 20 heirloom varieties of apples. Several other apple orchards have more familiar varieties. There are hayrides, farm animals and a farm stand with apple cider donuts.
12. Allandale Farm
Allandale Farm doesn’t offer apple picking; instead it has “apple choosing” at the farm stand. This apple orchard also has hayrides, pumpkin picking and apple cider donuts. The vegetable and fruit farm sells many types of fresh fruit. You can get cherries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries.
13. Nashoba Valley Winery
Nashoba Valley Winery, in Bolton, is a few minutes from Carlson Orchards. The winery, distillery and brewery has a dog friendly outdoor restaurant.
Note: Nashoba Valley Winery has tours for all ages, but wine tasting areas are limited to people over age 21.
Apple Picking in the Pioneer Valley
My oldest daughter spent her graduate school years in Northampton. You may detect a theme here: we follow our children to get fresh fruit and vegetables. The Pioneer Valley, under two hours from Boston, and about four hours from New York City, is filled with apple orchards, and farm stands.
14. Park Hill Orchard
Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton, Massachusetts, grows 95 varieties of fruit including raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines and apples. Only apples are available to pick your own, and you can buy everything at the farm stand, in season.
The 45 varieties of apples includes well-known apple varieties such as Mcintosh, Macoun, Gala and Honeycrisp along with heirlooms like Striped Gravenstein, Golden Russet and Goldrush.
But what really makes this working farm stand out as one of the best apple orchards is Art In the Orchard. Art In the Orchard, a walking sculpture trail through the fruit farm, includes a labyrinth and outdoor art. The self-guided trail is about three quarters of a mile long, and entrance is free. The walking trail is open daylight hours from August 12 until Thanksgiving weekend.
And Park Hill apple orchard is dog friendly!
15. Dickinson Farm & Greenhouse
The family-owned Dickinson Farm & Greenhouse has a farm stand at 309 East State St. in Granby. PYO raspberries, PYO strawberries and blueberries nearby at New Ludlow Road, Granby, and apple picking at 134 South Street, Granby.
The farm store has many varieties of apples if you just want to buy a bushel.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Be prepared; the pick your own fresh fruit requires cash payment.
16. McCray’s Farm, South Hadley
This family-friendly New England destination has a free petting zoo with farm animals. There is homemade ice cream, made with the milk of the farm’s cows.
In fall, take a hayride to pick your own pumpkins. There are nighttime wagon rides to the pumpkin patch as well.
Apple Picking in the Berkshires
17. Hilltop Orchards
The dog-friendly Hilltop Orchards has year-round activities. The apple orchard is three hours from New York City and two hours from Boston, so you can plan a day trip. Of course, if you are staying anywhere in the Berkshires, Hilltop Orchards is just around the corner.
First and foremost, of course, is pick-your-own apples. The family-owned 100-year-old orchard grows 27 varieties of apples.
The farm store sells fresh apple cider donuts, jams, jellies, maple syrup and local honey.
For adults, there is hard cider, and for kids or sober adults, fresh-pressed apple cider. You can take a tour of the state-of-the-art cider mill, one of New England’s oldest cider mills. Some of that cider is used for the apple cider donuts.
Hilltop Orchards, in Richmond, Massachusetts, has hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails, so plan a trip anytime of year.
18. Windy Hill Farm
Windy Hill Farm, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, specializes in heirloom varieties of apples. There is also fresh-pressed apple cider for sale. Windy Hill Farm also has pick your own blueberries in summer.
The apple orchard does not allow dogs.
19. Bartlett’s Orchard
Bartlett’s Orchard PYO apple orchard is open Labor Day weekend until Columbus Day. The year-round farm market has apple cider donuts, pies, apple turnovers and fresh apple cider.
The family-owned Bartlett’s Orchard, in Richmond, MA, is bringing on the fourth generation.
20. Boardman’s Farm Stand
Boardman’s Farm Stand, in Sheffield, MA, is where you can pick up fresh fruit and produce, and even locally grown meat, after apple picking. The family-owned farm store has pumpkins in an array of colors, corn and nectarines in season, and more apples if you need an extra bushel.
Tips for Apple Picking
- Wear comfortable, closed toe shoes – sneakers are fine.
- Don’t eat the apples while you are picking. Not only is it frowned upon, but the apples aren’t clean.
- Don’t climb the trees.
- Borrow or rent an apple picker so you can reach the best apples
- Tire out kids before apple picking. Especially if you’ve had a long drive. Most orchards discourage people from running through the apple orchards – you can slip on fruit on the ground – so you want to make sure your kids use up their energy first. We always walked to the apple orchard and took a hayride back. And started from the farthest orchard so we had a long walk first.
- If you visit the barnyard animals first, make sure you wash your kids’ hands. You know they’re going to eat an apple no matter what you say.
Easy Apple Crisp
To me, the best way to eat an apple is to sink your teeth into a crisp Macoun or Mcintosh. But the apple orchards in New England have different varieties of apples depending on when you go apple picking. If you wind up with a bushel of Cortlands or other baking apples, you will want to turn some of them into dessert. This apple crisp is easy to make, and even easier to eat.
3 pounds of firm apples, like Cortlands
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats (don’t substitute quick oats or steel cut oats)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350
Butter an 8 inch square pan
Peel and core the apples. Cut into medium slices, about half an inch thick (don’t obsess over perfection). Put in the pan and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and add chunks of cold butter. I chop this together with a pastry blender, but you can use a butter knife or large fork. Top the apples with the mixture and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream.