One of the most popular fall activities for families in New England is to go apple picking—and there are several options within relatively short driving distance from Boston. The top apple picking spots also have plenty of other things to do, from corn mazes and farm stands to animal rides and other entertainment. Peak season for apples is usually September to mid-October, though other fruits may be available depending on the orchard and time of year.
Keep in mind that orchards typically don’t commit to exact timing for apple picking seasons, nor do they guarantee any specific varieties will be available, as it can vary from year to year. Be sure to call ahead if you have questions about hours and availability if you’re looking for something particular.
Belkin Family Lookout Farm
The family-owned Belkin Family Lookout Farm, located about 20 miles southwest from Boston in the town of South Natick, is one of the country’s oldest continuously working farms, as it’s been running since way back in 1651. The farm sits on 180 acres that are filled with over 50,000 different fruit trees, including 11 varieties of apples, two types of pears, peaches, plums, and nectarines.
Early September is typically when the U-Pick season is at its peak, but fruits are available from June through October. You can also enjoy everything from apples and homemade pies, to cider donuts and other treats in the barn. They also have a number of other family activities, such as live children’s entertainment, face painting, barnyard animals, a playground, and pony, camel, and hay rides. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t permitted at the farm or in the taproom, so it’s best to leave your four-legged friends at home.
If you prefer to go north, head just over 30 minutes above Boston to Brooksby Farm in Peabody. To get there, take Route 1 North until you get to Peabody; it’s a short drive to the farm from there. There’s something to enjoy here at every time of year. In the spring you can buy flowers, hanging plants, and vegetable plants. In the summer it’s time to pick fruits, play with barnyard animals, and shop fresh fruits and vegetables. Then of course fall brings apple and pumpkin season along with other seasonal activities. And then come winter, pick up your Christmas tree, wreaths, and more here.
They also have a bakery (making cider doughnuts) and farm store where you can find all sorts of locally sourced items, including fruits, vegetables, pies, jams, jellies, sauces, spices along with toys and clothing.
Nashoba Valley Winery
Nashoba Valley Winery, about an hour west of Boston, isn’t just home to one of the state’s best wineries—it’s also a great spot for apple picking. The exact timing of apple picking season and types of apples available vary by year. The selection oftentimes looks something like this: Zester in August; Gravenstein and Snappy McIntosh in early September; McIntosh, Gala and Liberty in mid-September; Cortland, Empire, and Spencer in late-September; Macoun, Rhode Island Greening and Mutsu in late-September to early-October; Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, and Baldwin in mid-October.
Outside of apple picking, there is also peach picking (also seasonal), along with the winery, Bolton Beer Works Brewery, J’s Restaurant, and a picnic area. Nashoba Valley is a great place for a family to spend a day outside the city.
Connors Farm is just under an hour north of Boston—up Route 1 North and then onto I-95 North briefly until you get to Danvers. Their fall activities include everything from apple and pumpkin picking and riding the Putnamville Railroad, to running through the giant corn maze and playing a variety of games. You can also pick up fresh vegetables, flowers, fruits and more at their farm stand. Be sure to get a hot apple cider doughnut—fall is the best time for bakery goods!
A bit further north is the coastal town of Ipswich, which is where you’ll find Russell Orchards Farm Store & Winery and another option for apple picking. A full list of apple varieties and when they are available for picking can be found here—they have everything from Cortland and Fuji, to Empire and Crispin.
They also have a list of “what’s picking” that will tell you exactly which fruits can be picked and when, along with costs. Timing is usually June for strawberries, June to July for cherries, June to August for raspberries and blueberries, July to August for blackberries, and September to mid-October for apples. Their bakery also has all sorts of homemade goods to take home and enjoy.