UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 2019
Before I had kids, I always wanted to go apple-picking with the Engineer. He was not into this idea.
But now that we have kids, he has to go (even though he still loathes the idea – why – I don’t know). And so we go. I do wonder at the groups of childless adults I see picking apples because admittedly it does seem like a very child-thing to do. There are often bouncy castles or some sort of kid activity. And I can’t help but think: if you don’t have a kid you would be spending your weekend sleeping.
I digress. The point of this entry is to share my favourite spots for apple picking. Kids or not – these are some good picks. And I sort of want to keep them for myself save they get crazy overcrowded like Downey’s. But I will share them with you because if you are reading this post – you are seeking apple-picking places that are not insane like Downey’s
I tested Downey’s last fall on a weekday and it was B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
There were dozens of school buses and about 30 millennials posing in ridiculous outfits on the pumpkins. I realize the irony of my pictures being on Instagram but I certainly don’t pose provacatively in a bikini top and ripped shorts.
We left immediately.
All these places get busy on the weekends soooooooooooo . . . .
the first (and only) rule of apple-picking club is:
I mean out the door at 8 and at these places as soon as they open at 9. If you go in the mid-morning/afternoon, they all become gong shows.
Now for my (very short) list:
Hands down my favourite of them all.
This is a very insta-worthy orchard and the owners have thought of so many sweet details.
The reason it stands out as my favourite is their kitchen where you can bake your own apple pie!
For $20, you get use of their apple-pie making stations and all the ingredients. You don a vintage-cute apron and then begin peeling your apples. They have easy-to-follow instructions and it’s so well set up – that George and Alice can do it!
I got quite emotional here. Partly because I was only a month postpartum and partly because with the warm sun streaming in on the weathered workbench, the smell of the apples and sugar, and the old-school apple-peeler I was transported back to my grandmother’s kitchen on the farm (baking with her is idealic as it sounds).
Then they either bake your pie or box it up for you to take home.
This is what stands out for me as what makes them the best. The do however also have apples. You know, in case you want to pick some.
They are open WEEKENDS ONLY from 9-5 and it is key to get here early!
I believe they accepted debit/credit/cash and there was a small admission fee for each of us (under $10) – but I will confirm this as soon as possible.
There is a tractor hay ride, a fun ‘sandbox’ that is filled with corn, sensory stations with grains and water, hay bales to jump in and a delicious hot-dog and corn roast (like you get to dip your roasted corn in a vat of melted butter – it’s divine).
Coming in at a very close second is Applewood Farm.
This is a fantastic apple picking farm that we love to take the kids to each September. We always go on a weekday (although you still have to go early!) and have a picnic amid the apple trees where the kids roam freely picking apples and playing.
The reason I love it here so much is the fact it is (a) quiet and (b) Honey Crisp apples are basically a bargain! I worked it out last year that had I bought our apples at the store, they would have cost well over $100. But putting my then-three-year old and his buddies to work, we picked three bags that came to $60. That may seem like alot for apples but then you might not understand my deep affection for Honey Crisp apples.
I love them.
Like really really love them.
I don’t really eat apples anytime of the year other than September and October when I have these puppies in my house. I eat at least one or two a day. My kids eat two or three!
And we all have very healthy digestive systems in the fall :)
So to pick up my fall supply in a sunny afternoon at half the price of the grocery store is pretty much the best thing.
Admission is $10/person for anyone 3 and up – which I think is a bit steep when you have a few kids. Although last year when I watched how our kids ‘picked’ apples – I realize that admission covers all the wasted produce that ends up on the ground or the apples that end up in tummies before they hit the bag.
And then you have option to pick or not pick apples. You get a 20lb bag for $20. They do take card.
For the kids, there is a tractor-hay ride, lots of hay to play on, and a fun play structure. For the adults, there is also a fruit winery! But no food or drinks – so make sure to bring a picnic and lots of water.
I feel I poo-pooed this farm last year when I posted these picks and then actually went and FELL IN LOVE.
The drive is far (for me – I live in the east end of Toronto so it’s a solid hour to hour and a half) and you really need to hit it on the weekdays. But if you can swing a day off work and play hooky from school – I highly recommend coming here. If you can only come on the weekends refer to my one and only rule: EARLY.
Why did I fall in love you ask? Ummm, could it be the pony ride for kids around the orchard? Or the sweet bunnies we got to meet? Or the European deer that look like Bambi? Again, because we literally had the place to ourselves – we were able to spend time with the animals. The wonderful staff was so happy to have someone to talk to they showed us the bunnies up close.
The play area is also very epic. Slides galore and tons of hay to jump in.
Also, this farm is spotless and so well-groomed. Downey’s was honestly a mess. I mean I realize they are farms but . . . #igrewuponafarmbutstill
Oh and of course the apples. Every apple you desire including the adorable teeny tiny apples I thought were perfect for my kids. They were NOT. I mean I liked them – but they are tart.
Not to mention the plethora of food you can buy and the stunning eating area. This year they have introduced a BBQ shed with hot dogs and hamburgers. They also have pizza, salad, fries and hot coffee or cider.
Plus any of their pies or blossoms. YOU MUST TAKE HOME SOME BLOSSOMS!!!
They also have music nights on the weekends under the glittering lights.
This place is a MUST if your kids are preschool and above.
For adults you will be paying $15, kids over 4 are $13 and kids 3 and under are free.
Until October 14 they are open everyday from 10 AM-9 PM, October 15-31 everday from 10 AM – 6PM. Orchard closes at sunset.
I told you my list was short!
I generally stick to these two farms for apple picking but I do follow others on social media or have visited others for berry-picking.
This is my list here:
I follow these guys on Instagram and definitely want to check them out this year. They have apples available are are $12/person under 3 but this includes a 5lb PYO bag of apples.
It looks like they have a delicious farm market with fresh baked breads, cookies and pies (look at that bread!!) and animals on the farm to visit.
They are open weekdays 9am-6pm and weekends 9am-5pm.
This is a very small operation compared to the other flashy ones with corn mazes and bouncy castles.
You can find this family-run and quaint orchard up in Uxbridge. They charge $15/10LB Bag and that is it. No admission charges!
They are open weekends only from 10AM to 4PM.
On September 30th, they host their Cider Day which includes fresh made cider and local artisans.
JC Agri Orchards looks like a really lovely family-run orchard that is apple-picking only (as in no hayrides or bouncy castles). They do have a market store with pre-picked apples, apple cider and baked goods.
I am just waiting to hear back regarding pricing for apples but their admission is free.
Their hours are Tuesday-Friday from 9AM-4:30PM and Weekends 9AM-5PM.
And their daughter makes really cute videos for them.
I hope this list gives you a start of where to go!
And happy apple picking,