Apple Picking - Deciding between 3 farms
Hi, I'm taking my family who are visiting from Taiwan on an New England Tradition - Apple picking - this weekend. We are also biring a 15 month toddler (so there needs to be some entertainment for him like zoo, hay stacks, maze etc..). We would like to make a whole day or at least half a day of the event - need suggestions for places to eat in the vicinity as well. I did some research and have narrowed it down to these choices:
1. Russell Farms - lunch/dinner at Clam Shack, Essex, to Crane's if it is a warm day
2. Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury - lunch/dinner at same places as above
3. Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro - lunch/dinner ??
BTW - I have been to Russell Farms (for their yummy cider donuts) and would love to check out the other ones but if Russells' is better than the other ones, I'm happy to go there again. Are there places that have organic fruits?
Parlee's is really excellent. I think they have a web site.
As far as eating nearby, if your family from Taiwan wants a taste of home, head down route 3S to Drum Hill, Exit 32, and take route 4S to Chelmsford Center where you'll find Tai Shiang Garden with an extensive menu of Taiwan dishes. The restaurant has no ambiance and is an order-at-the counter place with a large eat-in dining room, but the food is the real thing.
Alternately, from Parlee's, follow route 113 into Lowell where you will find cobblestone streets, free trolley rides and plenty of NE history, with a number of ethnic restaurants to choose from within walking distance, including Greek (Athenian Corner), Portugese (Friends), Southeast Asian (Southeast Asian), Vietnamese (Viet Thai) or Mexican (Mambo Grill). All are accommodating of a small child and reasonably priced.
My co-op (focus on organic, local produce) is sourcing a lot of our apples from Cider Hill so they definitely have organic available. I was planning to go there today with kids but last minute change of plans brought us to Russel because they have the little playground and the litte farm with the 1000 pound pig. See my review http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
I have been to Parlee and love it. they have the maze for the kids and a variety of animals you can buy 25cent feed for and they eat out of your hands. The meal options are limited - but they are super nice and you get a free hay ride to the orchards. They may even have late season berries there too. Decent prices if you have a group going I believe they allow 5 people per 10 lb bag.
I have been to both Russell's and Cider Hill. I somewhat prefere Cider Hill. It is more spread out and feels more like a "real farm." It has a big store and GREAT apple cider donuts. They have a haybale maze on weekends and fun horse swings made out of old tires that my kids (10 and 12) still like to ride on.
Have fun and leave some apples for us next weekend...