It's that time of year again! The lows are dipping well into the forties (I die, btw) and the leaves are just starting to transform into their lovely scarlet hues. This is the best time to visit the Hudson Valley, if you ask me. Cider, donuts, corn mazes, and fresh apples and pumpkins from the farm- what could be better?
I've visited multiple farms in the area. I've learned things (good and bad) over the years. If you're like me, you want an authentic, farm-like experience. I grew up a country girl, riding horses. On an apple orchard, no less. So consider me hard to impress in this type of activity. You don't want that unfortunate mass produced, gimmick-y feeling to overcome you after a long journey in the car or train. You want to truly feel as though you've been transported to another world to really soak up all that's wonderful about Autumn.
The only orchard I can wholeheartedly recommend for Apple Picking is DuBois Farms in Highland, NY. I first went back in 2010 and it was really, my best kept secret. Not too crowded and so charming. Clean and well kept, easy to navigate, and not too big! Bonus- it's incredibly family friendly with picnic tables, farm animals to play with, and wagons to cart kids and things and apples around in ;)
This orchard was actually saved from developers coming in and building houses- so it's relatively new. But you'd hardly know it. They serve hot food, have a small store, and the yummiest cider and donuts around. I think what I enjoy and appreciate most is its manageability. This is not the farm you drive your car through to pick apples with a picker from the seat of your car (major no-no!) Once you see the barn and the cute white saltbox house, you'll want to stay forever. Finally, it's not completely in the middle of nowhere- always a bonus in the Hudson Valley.
With all that said, I have noticed that it's popularity has grown in the recent years, as it deserves the recognition. They've set the bar high. And people have taken note. I always recommend going early in the season- in fact there are apples ready to be harvested now. And also getting there as close to opening as possible to avoid congestion. But, even when this place is crowded, there is enough space that you don't feel overwhelmed.
And now for the not so hot apple orchards- not that there is anything wrong with them but, I didn't get that authentic farm experience here. These are very crowded, not as well organized or kept, and overall, disappointing. They seemed to lack that charm DuBois nails. In no particular order: Lawrence Farms, Fishkill Farms, and Warwick Valley Winery (which has an apple orchard on it.)
So, folks, there's you have my local tips and candid thoughts about apple picking here in the Hudson Valley. DuBois for the win! Let me know what you think. And happy Autumn!