Planning Ahead - Where should I pick apples next year?
OK, I know this is really early, but I figure it is better to ask now while people's experiences and memories are still fresh.
I know there are a bunch of threads on apple picking, but I feel like my list of desires is semi-unique enough to warrant a new thread. Here's what I'm hoping to find in order of importance:
1. The orchard should be in the North West Greater Boston Area (basically along or off of Rt 2)
2. It should have as many varieties of apples to pick as possible during peak season, extra points for unusual / heirloom varieties (having 2 varieties to pick and the rest in the store does NOT count, especially if I am there during peak timing).
3. Should allow real picking, ideally with climbing and ladders allowed
4. Not so over run with families and tourists that it takes 45 minutes to park and buy a bag on the weekend ( i.e. The Honey Pot Hill Effect).
Nice to haves, but not necessary
4. Nice store with cider donuts, honey, pumpkins, etc.
5. Family friendly without being kid focused (no hayrides or corn mazes or petting zoos, etc.)
6. Reasonable pricing ( I am very willing to pay extra for the honor of selecting my own apples, having access to new varieties of apples, and the entertainment of frolicking around the orchard.....but I am not willing to be taken advantage of too much). I'll pay an entrance fee is the place is really amazing.
7. Pretty scenery is always nice, but an afterthought frankly
OK Chowhound, does such a magical place exist or am I searching for a unicorn in a land of donkeys?
I think Carlson Orchards fits almost all of those parameters. Over Columbus Day weekend they had ~10 varieties of apples, although nothing super rare (Cortland, Fuji, Macs, Macoun, Empire, Braeburn, Mutsu, Red Delicious, Jonagold, and I think one or two more that I can't remember). Definitely kid friendly, but no entrance fee, no corn mazes, no petting zoo, no amusement park atmosphere, and not overwhelmingly crowded on the Sunday of Columbus Day weekend (they do have hayrides but they are very low key). Very close to Rt. 2, and $24 per half-bushel. Also sell 1/2 pecks of utility apples for $5. No cider donuts, but pretty nice store with pumpkins, honey, applesauce, cider, and apple crisp.
Try this link:
I would suggest Doe Orchards, Carlson Orchards, Phil's Apples (awesome unpasteurized cider), Shelburne Farms, Nicewicz Farms. These should satisfy most of your conditions. No mandatory hayrides or picking lessons, petting zoos, or craziness, and most don't even have real bathrooms (porta-pottys or the woods are the only options).
Stay away from Honey Pot, Tougas, Parlee, etc. if you are even slightly adverse to crowds.
There are a bunch rte 2 and 495, it's not too late to get late season apples, I just picked some red and golden Delicious at Shelburne farms today great fresh/hot cider donuts, I think Carlson's may have more types I have picked there in the past .