From the Big Apple, it’s easy to find big apples. Picking fruit at local farms is a New York tradition, where petting a goat or hitching a hayride often comes as a bonus. As fall arrives, here are some of our favorite orchards, all less than two hours from Gotham.
Lawrence Farms Orchards, Newburgh, N.Y. (About 75 miles from NYC)
306 Frozen Ridge Road, Newburgh, N.Y.; lawrencefarmsorchards.org
Friendly animals and painterly scenery make Lawrence Farms Orchards one of the region’s most enjoyable pick-your-own spots. A working farm since 1892, the spread also offers a diversity of crops. Along with snappy apple varietals like Paula Red and Ozark Gold, you’ll find sweet corn, hot peppers, eggplant, kohlrabi, and even Niagara grapes. Take a break by socializing with goats, horses, and chickens that roam the premises. And grab a few jars of the farm kitchen’s delicious homemade fruit butters, preserves, and salsas before you take off.
Hill Creek Farms, Mullica Hill, N.J. (Around 110 miles from NYC)
1631 State Highway 45, Mullica Hill, N.J.; hillcreekfarms.com
With more than 17,000 trees spread among 24 acres, Hill Creek Farms offers one of the region’s more laid-back apple-picking experiences. But fruit’s just the start at this working farm. Kids will love the hay wagon rides and barrel-train through orchards and cornstalks. Grownups can savor Hill Creek’s own vintage and other local wines at upscale-casual lunch spot The Grille. The whole crew can chow down at The Loft Café, whose salads and sandwiches feature just-picked produce. As the day wanes, warm up on a log chair by the farm’s roaring fire pit as you sip apple cider pressed at Hill Creek’s own mill.
Apple Dave’s Orchards, Warwick, N.Y. (About 60 miles from NYC)
82 Four Corners Road, Warwick, NY; appledavesorchards.com
One of the area’s few pick-your-own operations open all week, Apple Dave’s makes a terrific day-long escape. Along with a dozen beautiful seasonal apple varieties, you’ll find a bright pumpkin patch and apple cider donuts to die for. Take in magnificent mountain views, live music, and even puppet shows for the little ones. With the kiddies distracted, sneak a sip of apple vodka or Naked Flock Hard Cider from the farm’s own Applewood Winery. PS: Apple Dave was David Hull, the farm’s founder and a pioneering pick-your-own pomologist.
Hurds Family Farm, Modena, N.Y. (About 80 miles from NYC)
2187 State Route 32, Modena, N.Y.; hurdsfamilyfarm.com
A seventh-generation family farm in Ulster County, Hurds might be the region’s friendliest and was named 2018's Best Farm to Take the Family by Hudson Valley Magazine. For kids, Hurds’ weekday field trips are a local tradition; for $12, the jaunt includes pick-your-own time, a hayride, bounce pillow shenanigans, an obstacle course, and the “ABC’s of agriculture." Along with apple varietals from Rome to RubyFrost, adults will find pumpkins and summer squash for the picking; the Big Apple Café, whose every item features farm apples (note: Apple Turkey Chili); and the terrific Dutch Barn Market, with farm-made treats like apple butter and apple sauce.
Silverman’s Farm, Easton, Conn. (About 60 miles from NYC)
451 Sport Hill Road, Easton, Conn.; silvermansfarm.com
After nearly a century, Silverman’s knows how to share warm welcomes in cooler months. A huge slate of seasonal apple varietals is just the start. You can rock out to fiddle and banjo performances, hitch tractor rides through breathtaking fields, and hang with some of the friendliest animals in the business, including buffalo, llamas, and rabbits. October’s a highlight here as Silverman’s pumpkin patches glow with more than 20 varieties of squashes and gourds. If you can guess the weight of your pumpkin within two ounces, it’s gratis.