Visit just about any U-Pick farm upstate during autumn, and you’re likely to find it packed to the gills with city slickers. Because while we have unprecedented access to all manner of farm-to-table restaurants, we rarely have the opportunity to actually commune with nature ourselves — frolicking in livestock-ringed orchards with a juicy Jonagold in one hand, and a sugared cider donut in the other.
Want to join the mass exodus this fall? Here’s a rundown of six great spots where you can pick like a farmhand (but eat like a New Yorker) less than two hours outside of the city!
Pennings Orchard: Encompassing over 100 acres of farmland in historic Warwick Valley, in Hudson New York, Pennings offers an all-inclusive apple picking experience. Yes, there’s access to 60-acres of easy to reach fruit (including Honey Crisps, Empires, Macouns and Jonagolds), but foodies will love on-site events like wine tastings, visits to the compound’s newly debuted hop yard, freshly-made cider donuts, a pub and grill offering everything from burgers to pulled pork sandwiches to fish and chips, and a outdoor beer garden serving up local brews and grub from various purveyors, including wood-burning pizza, Belgian-style french fries, empanadas and more.
169 NY-94, (845) 986-7080, Warwick NY
Terhune Orchards: Located right near gorgeous Princeton University, this Jersey go-to boasts over 30 varieties of apples, 28 varieties of peaches and 7 varieties of pears, as well as an adjunct winery peddling 12 varieties of wine (including three fruit wines made from Terhune’s own apple cider), a farm store selling cider donuts, breads and pies, and wassailing parties and family fun on the weekends, such as tasty buffets featuring soup, chili, hot dogs, grilled veggies and more.
330 Cold Soil Rd, (609) 924-2310, Princeton NJ
Twin Star Orchards: This New Paltz orchard was the inspiration for the upcoming Brooklyn Cider House; a Basque-inspired bar, restaurant and tasting room. And while it’s admittedly more of a trek than the Bushwick location, it’s a real treat to get up close and personal with their sustainably farmed apples, as well as sample their award winning ciders, and feast on wood-fired pizza and burgers.
155 N Ohioville Rd, (845) 633-8657, New Paltz NY
Stone Ridge Orchard: Secreted away in the Rondout River Valley near the Catskill Mountains, Stone Ridge has been an active farm for almost 200 years. In fact, you’ll find at outcropping of ancient apple trees on top of the hill — producing McIntosh, Stayman, Cortland and Golden Delicious — although over 1000 more “gourmet” cultivars have been planted over the decades, including Gala, Honeycrisps and Ginger Golds. Unfortunately, man can’t live by apples alone; which is why you’ll want to cap off your visit with a trip to a nearby restaurant such as Butterfield at Hasbrouk House; serving regional American-influenced tasting menus in an 18th century Dutch Colonial mansion.
3012 NY-213, (845) 687-2587, Stone Ridge NY
Wilklow Orchards: If you’re going to make a trip to the Hudson Valley, why not ensure that you’re within easy driving distance of the C.I.A? After packing your trunk with Northern Spys, Cortlands, Winesaps and Fujis, and getting a to-go snack from the bakery, head to America’s most acclaimed cooking school, and grab dinner at one of seven student-run eateries; from the classic French Bocuse, to the regionally-inspired American Bounty, and the Italian Ristorante Caterina de’Medici.
341 Pancake Hollow Rd, (845) 691-2339, Highlands NY
Dr. Davies Farm: This pick-your-own spot may be relatively understated (they’ve chosen to keep activities to a minimum, and let their 4,000 fruit trees on 35 acres shine), but it’s all about location, location, location — namely, a quick drive to Tarrytown’s Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, where you can spend the rest of the day engaged in hands-on activities, tastings and tours, and fill your belly at either the high end restaurant (if you somehow managed to score a reservation), or the casual café and grain bar, serving savory yogurts, fresh baked goods and vegetable salads.
306 Route 304, (845) 268-7020, Congers NY