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north of boston-appple orchards and restaurants?

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I am planning on making an excursion to the Topsfield Fair tomorrow afternoon and I would like to go apple-picking on the way there, and have dinner on the way back.

However, as a usually carless city-dweller, I am entirely unfamiliar with the surrounding area. E.g. I've tried to scroll through the board for suggestions, but I have no idea where anything is in relation to each other or to metro Boston!

Can someone please help me find:
1)A good apple orchard that offers heirloom varieties as well as cider and great doughnuts
2)A chow-worthy dining experience hopefully not too far out of the way of the return route from Topsfield. (is Oga's anywhere close to this?)

I'm willing to drive within reason, but please no hour-long detours!

Thanks!!

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  1. Unfortunately, there aren't any orchards that I am aware of between Topsfield and Boston. Orchard country is really to the west of Boston towards Worcester and Leominster, etc., though there are a few orchards further north in Essex County from Topsfield. Part of it is simply land values and suburbanization...

    I think the orchard near Crane's Beach in Ipswich is probably the closest, but I don't recall if they have heirloom apple varieties like places west of Boston.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl S.

      There is Brooksby Farm in Peabody...I thought they had all been sold for ral estate dev., but Micheal B's report on the Fair mentioned their cider, so they must have SOME acreage left in apples!

      Also, for dinner, the Seawitch on Rt.1 is right on your way.

    2. Are you sure you're gonna want dinner after chowing at the fair? I forgot to mention the turkey legs which looked amazing but there's only so much I can cram in. I say find the $3 sausage guy, some homemade fries, fried dough, apple pie w/ ice cream, turkey leg, that'll run you about $19 and you won't want to eat for a day.

      1. In Amesbury, off I495, Cider Hill Orchard. Excellent Dohuts, lots of other good stuff.

        Chow worthy - would be any of Clam Box, Woodmans, or Farnhams in Ipswitch.

        1. Brooksby Farm in Peabody used to have apple picking.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Eryn

            I was there today and the apple picking is closed for the season. They had bags and bins of apples for sale, nothing too unique: Cortland, Macoun, Mutsu, Macintosh, Empire, can't rememebr much else.

            1. re: Chris VR

              Oh, forgot to mention they did have cider donuts and hot and cold cider for sale, as well as half and full gallons of pasteurized cider in the fridge.

              I went apple picking at Russell Orchards in Ipswich ealier in the season, and I thought the donuts there were a bit better, and remember they had a decent selection of unique apples earlier in the season. Plus they sold unpasteurized cider.

              We went strawberry picking at Smolak Farms in North Andover earlier this year. Not sure how the apple picking/selection is there.