October’s adventure was my favorite fall activity hands-down: apple picking!
One of the few negatives about going away from home for college was the inability to come home for more than just major holidays. Aside from Thanksgiving, Winter and Summer breaks, I basically wasn’t home. I missed a lot of extended family birthdays, parties and gatherings over my 4 years in Atlanta, including our yearly apple picking trips in the fall.
Living in Westchester, it wasn’t much of a trek to find a good orchard. Just a 40 minute drive from New Rochelle, we would usually visit Outhouse Orchards in North Salem (Find more information here). Living in Atlanta, it was a bit more of a drive to the closest orchard – about an hour and a half – but there were definitely a lot of options to choose from. Right on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest in Ellijay, GA are a number of orchards, all neighboring each other on Highway 52. My friends and I decided on B.J. Reece Orchards (Find more information here). One of the more family-oriented options, they had the usual wide array of apples and long family-run history.
Their main building is a huge store with sweets, baked goods, pre-bagged apples, apple-related condiments and jams, and BBQ stand for lunch. The BBQ was great, I got the fries with BBQ pulled pork and deep-fried oreos. The pork was well seasoned, not as saucy as I would’ve liked but it did the job. They also had sandwiches and chicken strips and fries options as well. My personal favorite is always the hot apple cider, which was absolute perfection. They also have a frozen version that my friend said was great and got two cups of. If you’re also an apple cider doughnut fan like myself, I definitely recommend getting them early because they sell out fast. They close at 6pm and all of the pre-packaged doughnuts and fresh bakery ones were completely sold out by 5pm.
The actual orchard is 120+ acres and has a variety of family-friendly farm activities aside from the normal u-pick. Admission is $5 which includes a wagon ride through the orchards with a little bit of history as you ride. After that you can either purchase a package to include some of the activities or just buy a bag for picking. They have all kinds of typical farm fun like a petting zoo, scavenger hunt, and pig races, as well as more unique fun like zip lining and an apple cannon. We just did the admission price and bought a “1/2 peck” bag for $7 additional. The acres are gorgeous and the “lanes” are labeled with the type of apple. A couple of the trees closest to the wagon ride stops were (understandably) damn-near bare but a bit of walking inward we founds some prime picking spots. Far out we could see more acres of recently planted trees. And of course, if you didn’t take cute pictures, did you even go? Luckily the sun was on our side that day so we got some great group and individual photos.
For anyone in Atlanta who wants to try some apply picking for the first time or needs a new place to try, I would definitely recommend B.J. Reece, especially if you have little ones. My friends and I had a lot of fun and by the end of the day our bags were overflowing with apples. Let me know in the comments some of your favorite apple or pumpkin picking stories and your favorite orchards to go to!