‘Tis the season! The air is getting cooler, the trees are changing color, and we’re pulling sweaters out of the closet. Autumn is here and Kati and I love to get outside and enjoy the cooler weather. It is a great time to find activities that you would enjoy as a couple, solo traveler, and family. We love to visit Farmer’s Markets and other activities that come during this time of year.
With the changing of the season comes new activities. One of our favorites is visiting an orchard. In upstate New York, you can easily spend an afternoon picking apples, enjoying the crisp fall air, and coming home with the main ingredient for tarts, pies, and jams. Plus, many of these spots are an easy car or train from downtown Manhattan.
These are ten of the best apple picking spots in upstate New York. Happy picking!
Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm (Yorktown Heights)
Only an hour from Manhattan—hello, day trips! —Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm is perfect for anyone looking for an easy upstate escape.
Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm were founded in 1916 as an all-purpose farm, raising cattle and growing apples. By the 1920s, a new cider mill also pumped out hard cider. (Prohibition, which banned the use of alcohol, had been enacted in 1918. This didn’t stop the folks at Wilkens, who smuggled the hard cider down to New York City.)
Today, the winery has replaced the cider mill. But the apples at Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm are still going strong! They offer more than a dozen varieties of apples—and a hayride to the orchard.
Outside of apples, Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm offer plenty of autumnal activities, like pick-your-own pumpkins, a corn maze, and apple cider donuts. As for the “Fir” in “Wilkens Fruit and Fir Farm?” That’s their Choose-n-Cut Christmas trees! They offer Douglas Fir and Fraser Fir trees—and a free cup of hot apple cider with every tree purchase.
Rulfs Orchard (Peru)
When Bob Rulfs bought his farm in 1952, he wanted to put his degree in animal husbandry to use. The goal? To start his own dairy farm. Rulfs found a farm that seemed to fit his needs—it included four milk cows and three heifer calves. But the property came with twelve apple trees. So, Rulfs sold apples from the front yard of his house.
Today, the apples at Rulfs—tucked in the north corner of New York, closer to Montreal than Manhattan—have become one of this lovely orchard’s main draws. Rulfs Orchard offers several varieties of apples—from Honey Crisp to Red Delicious—as well as produce which includes squash, tomatoes, peppers, bok choy, zucchini, berries, and more. Visitors can pick apples, pumpkins, and berries themselves during the right season.
No matter when you visit, you’ll find plenty to do, see, and buy at Rulfs. In the summer, you can enjoy some of the farm’s housemade ice cream. Their flavors have included blueberry pie, apple cider spice, and pumpkin cheesecake. In the winter, visitors can pick up Christmas trees, wreaths, and garlands.
And all year long, you can grab one of their handmade pies to go. Yum!
Indian Ladder Farm (Altamont)
Apples? Check. Apple cider? Check. Apple cider donuts? Check! Indian Ladder Farm has it all—even its own Cidery and Brewery.
Tucked in the tiny town of Altamont—just north of Albany, with a population of about 1,000—this historic farm will enhance your autumn.
Adults will love the house-made cider and beer. The colorful and vibrant cans are especially cool and make for a wonderful souvenir or gift. You can check out their selection of ciders and beers in the downstairs Biergarten and Tasting Room.
Kids will adore the animals onsite. In the spring, Indian Ladder Farms offers a “Baby Animal Farm Tour” which features all the springtime babies born on their farm—from chicks to bunnies to piglets! It may be geared toward kids, but many adults will enjoy the chance to meet some baby animals, too.
And, of course, there are the apples! The farm grows over a dozen different kinds of apples. Depending on the season, you can also pick berries or pumpkins.
Love Apple Farms (Ghent)
Do you absolutely love apples? Love Apple Farms may be the perfect place to visit!
Founded in 1969 by an artistic couple looking for physical space and literary inspiration, Love Apple Farms stretches an idyllic 80-acres in the picturesque Hudson Valley. (For you New Yorkers, that means this one is fairly easy to reach—it’s about a two-hour drive from the city.)
The people at Love Apple Farms certainly love apples. But if you visit outside of apple season, you may be able to pick other crops, which include peaches, apricots, strawberries, and cherries.
All that picking may tire you out. Fortunately, Apple Love Farms has a thriving cafe on-site to give you a boost. Their baked goods are especially good—grab a double crust apple pie to bring home, or some apple cider donuts to enjoy during the drive.
Plus, their passion extends further than fruit. Love Apple Farm also has a petting zoo, which is home to donkeys, ponies, and llamas. They’re also known for their Love Apple Art Space, which features contemporary art by early and mid-career artists within a rustic 19th-century barn.
Fishkill Farms (Hopewell Junction)
Founded in 1913, Fishkill Farms is a 270-acre apple orchard just 90 minutes from Manhattan. They do way more than just apples. In the fall, you can also pick out pumpkins. In the spring, look for fresh peas and strawberries.
And that’s not all. If you visit on the weekend, you can also enjoy their Treasury Cider Bar. The cider served is made with Fishkill Farms apples (of course!). You can try a flight of five ciders, or pick up a bottle to bring home. Or—better yet—do both.
History fans, take note! The farm is not only over one hundred years old. Fishkill Farms has also had several famous guests, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt—who had a warm relationship with Fishkill’s founder—and Winston Churchill.
Becker Farms (Gasport)
Becker Farms is a long way from New York City—it takes about six hours by car—but it’s the perfect spot if you’re looking to mix some apple-picking with an adventure. The farm stretches a glorious 340 acres. There’s so much to explore!
First of all, this popular wedding spot is beautiful—an absolute dream for anyone planning a rustic wedding. Secondly, it’s located along the Niagara Wine Trail. (This farm can do more than grow apples. If you love wine, it’s a great spot to visit.) Third, it offers limited lodging. If you drove all day to Becker Farms from NYC, you can enjoy the house-made beer, wine, and cider to the fullest—without having to drive all the way back home.
When it comes to the apples themselves, Becker is equally impressive. You’ll find many recognizable apple varieties here, including Gala, Cortland, McIntosh, Red Delicious, and more.
Greig Farm (Red Hook)
About ninety minutes north of Manhattan, Greig Farm opened in 1942 as a dairy and fruit operation. The cows have since left the property, but fruit still grows in abundance. Today, the farm stretches across 300 acres. They grow everything from apples to pumpkins to asparagus.
Even if you’ve had your fill of apples for the season, this is a wonderful spot to visit. The winding trails which cut through Greig Farm are lovely and scenic. The shorter Blue Heron Loop (about a mile) leads past a pond packed with wildlife, including frogs and turtles. The longer Hill Orchard Trail (about two miles) offers stunning views of the Catskill Mountains and crosses over two bog bridges.
Plus, Greig Farm fully embraces the artistic spirit that thrives in the Hudson Valley. The 1850s barn which once housed Greig Farm’s dairy cows now hosts the Farm Salon Art Gallery. Throughout the year, local Hudson Valley artists display their work within the old barn. Also in the barn is Greig’s SoHu (South of Hudson) Craft Market, where you can find ceramics, antiques, and more.
We recommend that you don’t leave without saying hello to Greig Farm’s pygmy goats. You can buy alfalfa pellets for less than a dollar to feed the goats yourself.
Kelder’s Farm (Kerhonkson)
Quirky, historical, and packed with activities, Kelder’s Farm is a delight to visit.
Located in tiny Kerhonkson (about two hours from Manhattan) Kelder has a couple of claims to fame. First of all, it’s among the oldest in the region—Kelder’s Farm is more than 200 years old. Secondly, the folks at Kelder’s have serious bragging rights—in 2009, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded them the prize for (wait for it!) Largest Garden Gnomes.
Kelder’s Farm’s U-Pick scene is one of its main draws. On top of apples, they also grow a variety of berries as well as Concord grapes. In their Farm Market, you can buy freshly made jams, farm-raised eggs, and more.
But their goal really seems to be to make your visit fun. The Farm has multiple activities for all ages—you can take aim with their apple cannon, dash through their corn maze, visit with farm animals, and jump up and down on their enormous “jumping pillow.”
At the end of summer, Kelder’s Farm also offers access to their six acres of sunflowers. These yellow beauties make for a great date, a day trip, or simply an opportunity to snap the perfect Instagram photo.
Barton Orchards (Poughquag)
Barton Orchards is just 90 minutes from NYC—which is perfect since their active events calendar provides plenty of reasons to plan a visit.
Across the 175 acres that make up the farm, Barton Orchards has a generous selection of apples and fresh vegetables. You can pick both! The vegetables include cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, and more.
If you want to enjoy fresh produce but skip the picking, you can also head to their “Apple Core Store”, which has local eggs and milk, jams, donuts, and 10 types of pies.
But Barton Orchards sees themselves as more than just a farm—they seem themselves as a destination. That’s why they pack their calendar with events. In the past, they’ve hosted the Empire State Hot-Air Balloon Fest (and, yes, you can ride in the balloons), a Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee, and a Country Music Jamboree.
In addition, they also have a Taproom (for the adults) and TreeTop Adventures, an aerial playground that kids will love to scramble across. Everyone will love Barton Orchard’s ice cream stand. Be sure to order the Apple Cider Donut Sundae.
The Apple Farm (Victor)
Finally, let’s finish the list with the simply and aptly named: “The Apple Farm.” South of Rochester, this scenic spot is about a five-hour drive from Manhattan.
The Apple Farm acknowledges that the apples in its orchard are much older than anyone owner of the Farm. They embrace the idea that The Apple Farm—as it exists today—is the “current incarnation of the agricultural spirit that has animated this land for generations.”
With a look to the past, the Apple Farm keeps the present simple. They offer 11 varieties of apples, which means they can offer U-Pick apples from August to October.
And what does one do when one has lots and lots of apples? You make cider, of course! The Apple Farm sells cold-pressed apple cider that is made of nothing but apples—no sweeteners, no added sugars. That’s why each batch always tastes a little different. At the Farm, they crush the apples, press the mash, and bottle pure apple juice to create a delicious, simple cider.
And there you have it! These are some of the ten best apple picking spots in upstate New York. Whether you’re planning to spend an afternoon apple-picking or want to set out on an overnight apple-picking adventure, one of these great orchards should fit what you need.