October 04, 2012

Apple Picking in VA and MD


Every year R, J, the kids, and I try to go apple-picking. It's quite the tradition -- G looks forward to it so much, and was thrilled that this year the Twins were old enough to remember this time.  We always buy too many apples, have a picnic in the orchard, make pyramids of the fallen fruit (and then G stomps them).  This year we picked a surprisingly hot day and a new orchard which did not have apple cider doughnuts, which is one of the main reasons I go apple picking.

Where do you go, you ask? Let me tell you:

STRIBLING ORCHARDS, Fauquier County, VA

We usually go to Stribling. Nestled on the side of a hill on the edge of the Shenandoahs, near Front Royal, VA, Stribling offers the whole fall-farm experience without being over-the-top. They get fall color before DC does, and there are lovely views of the Western VA hills. They have doughnuts, cider, jams, honey, pumpkins, and lots of varieties of apples. Their orchard is well groomed and well marked, and big enough that even on a busy day, you can feel secluded when you sit down to much, sketch, let the kids run around, etc.  They take cash or credit.

CROOKED RUN ORCHARDS, Loudon County, VA

This year we tried Crooked Run, when I heard they had heirloom varieties of apples. They are the strangest little place: nestled between subdivisions in Purcelville, their orchard is rather wild, and a bit overgrown. The prices are outstanding ($1 apples, $1.50 asian pears, plus bulk discounts and discounts for fallen apples which are perfect for cider or canning). When we were there it was packed, and it was a hot dusty day.

HOMESTEAD FARMS, Montgomery County, MD

Well you all know I love Homestead--I get my strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and cherries there every year. Farmed by the same family since 1760s, Homestead covers some lovely rolling hills in the middle of Mo. Co. farm country. It feels like a real escape: just a 20 miles from the District, but past the beltway it is all country driving.  Homstead also has vegetables, a friendly farm dog, hay rides, and flower-picking.

BUTLER'S ORCHARD, Montgomery County, MD

I have yet to go to Butler's Orchard, though it is the first name on everyone's list. It seems to me to be more of a play-ground apple orchard. So I think it's better for families. They are having a huge Fall Festival this weekend, if you're looking for autumnal adventures.

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